RFLP map of human mtDNA variation: "The Mitochondrial Eve"

    Becky Cann, Mark Stoneking, and Allan Wilson obtained mitochondrial DNA from the placentas of women of various continental origins. Comparative analysis of RFLP maps showed that women ##1-8 (blue dots) were all of African origin and formed a related cluster that diverged from all other women (including others of African origin). This finding was consistent with an African origin of all modern humans, (the "Out of Africa" hypothesis). The caclulated divergence dtime of the most recent common ancestor (the "Mitochondrial Eve") placed her far more recently that previously supposed, only a few hundred thousand years ago. [It should be emphasized that the occurence of Eve is a consequence of population genetic theory called coalesence, and does not mean that she was the only woman alive at that time].

Figure © 2012 TA Brown, Introduction to Genetics (1st ed.); additional text © 2012 by Steven M. Carr