1Department of Anthropology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT, 2Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism, and Molecular Medicine, Department of Medicine, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University, Chicago, IL, 3UIC Science LLC, Barrow, AK, 4Department of Anthropology, Northwestern University, Evanston, IL
Thursday 8:30-8:45, Galleria North
Iñupiat populations of Canada and Greenland, characterized by 'Beringian-specific' mtDNA haplotypes A2a/A2b (95%) and D3 (5%), are homogenous for mtDNA sequence diversity compared to American Indian populations. Less is known about Iñupiat populations of North Alaska. With the encouragement of local Iñupiat communities, we analyzed North Alaskan mitochondrial haplotype frequencies to place them in the context of American arctic prehistory.
The mtDNA hypervariable region was sequenced in 178 adults residing in all communities spanning the Alaskan North Slope. We sequenced the same segment from ancient skeletal remains (calibrated radiocarbon age 1187-1579AD) from Nuvuk, an Iñupiat/Thule village at Point Barrow, AK continuously inhabited for ~1300 years. There is considerable variation in the frequencies of mtDNA haplogroups among the modern communities investigated, with haplotypes A2a/A2b (88%) and D3 (7%) the most common. Ancient Nuvuk individuals also reveal the expected A2a/A2b/D3 haplotypes, though with additional A2 sublineages not found in the modern samples. Haplotype D2 (3%), found among modern Aleut, Siberian Eskimos, and recently in an ancient Paleo-Eskimo Saqqaq from western Greenland, was identified at a low frequency in the modern samples but not the ancient.
These results suggest that only a subset of Beringian-specific mtDNA haplotypes were carried by the early Thule during their dispersal across the North American arctic, and the Alaskan North Slope possibly served as a source for the earlier Paleo-Eskimo diaspora. The unique diversity of arctic mtDNA haplotypes encourages the future sequencing of full mtDNA genome, NRY, and autosomal markers in modern and ancient samples.
This research was supported by NSF grants OPP-0732846 AND OPP-0637246 to DHO’R, OPP-0732857 to MGH, and ARC-0726253 to AMJ.