Haplogroup H (mtDNA)

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Haplogroup H
Possible time of origin20,000–25,000 YBP
Possible place of originWest Asia, probably the Caucasus
DescendantsH* lineages; subclades H1, H2, H3, H4, H5'36, H6, H7, H8, H9, H10, H11, H12, H13, H14, H15, H16, H18, H19, H20, H22, H23, H24, H25, H26, H28, H29, H31, H32, H33, H34, H35, H37, H38, H39, 16129(H17+H27), 16129(H21+H30) (numbers to H135)[2]
Defining mutationsG2706A, T7028C[3]

Haplogroup H is a human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup. The clade is believed to have originated in Southwest Asia, near present day Syria,[1] around 20,000 to 25,000 years ago. Mitochondrial haplogroup H is today predominantly found in Europe, and is believed to have evolved before the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM). It first expanded in the northern Near East and Southern Caucasus soon, and later migrations from Iberia suggest that the clade reached Europe before the Last Glacial Maximum. The haplogroup has also spread to parts of Africa, Siberia and inner Asia. Today, around 40% of all maternal lineages in Europe belong to haplogroup H.


Haplogroup H is a descendant of haplogroup HV. The Cambridge Reference Sequence (CRS), which until recently was the human mitochondrial sequence to which all others were compared, belongs to haplogroup H2a2a1 (human mitochondrial sequences should now be compared with the ancestral Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence (RSRS)).[4] Several independent studies conclude that haplogroup H probably evolved in Western Asia c. 25,000 years ago.

In July 2008 ancient mtDNA from an individual called Paglicci 23, whose remains were dated to 28,000 years ago and excavated from Paglicci Cave (Apulia, Italy), were found to be identical to the Cambridge Reference Sequence in HVR1.[5] This once was believed to indicate haplogroup H, but researchers now recognize that CRS HVR1 also appears in U or HV, because there are no HVR1 mutations that separate CRS from the haplogroup R founder. Haplogroup HV derives from the haplogroup R0 which in turn derives from haplogroup R is a descendant of macro-haplogroup N like its sibling M, is a descendant of haplogroup L3.

Haplogroup H has also been found among Iberomaurusian specimens dating from the Epipalaeolithic at the Taforalt and Afalou prehistoric sites.[6] Among the Taforalt individuals, around 29% of the observed haplotypes belonged to various H subclades, including H1 (2/24; 8%), H103 (1/24; 4%), H14b1 (1/24; 4%), H2a2a1 (1/24; 4%), and H2a1e1a (1/24; 4%). A further 41% of the analysed haplotypes could be assigned to either haplogroup H or haplogroup U. Among the Afalou individuals, the H subclades were represented by H103 (1/9; 11%). A further 44% of the analysed haplotypes could be assigned to either haplogroup H or haplogroup U (3/9; 33%) or to haplogroup H14b1 or haplogroup JT (1/9; 11%).[7]

MtDNA H had frequency of 19% among Neolithic Early European Farmers and virtually absent among Mesolithic European hunter gatherers.[8]

MtDNA H was also present in the Cucuteni–Trypillia culture.[9]

The clade has been observed among ancient Egyptian mummies excavated at the Abusir el-Meleq archaeological site in Middle Egypt, which date from the pre-Ptolemaic/late New Kingdom and Ptolemaic periods.[10]

Additionally, haplogroup H has been found among specimens at the mainland cemetery in Kulubnarti, Sudan, which date from the Early Christian period (AD 550–800).[11]


Projected spatial frequency distributions for haplogroups H*, H1, H2a, H3, H4, H5a, H6a, H7, H8 and H11

Haplogroup H is the most common mtDNA clade in Europe.[12] It is found in approximately 41% of native Europeans.[13][14] The lineage is also common in North Africa and the Middle East.[15]

The majority of the European populations have an overall haplogroup H frequency of 40–50%, with frequencies decreasing in the southeast. The clade reaches 20% in the Near East and Caucasus, 17% in Iran, and <10% in the Arabian Peninsula, Northern India and Central Asia.[1][16]

Undifferentiated haplogroup H has been found among Palestinians (14%),[17] Syrians (13.6%),[17] Druze (10.6%),[17] Iraqis (9.5%),[17] Somalis (6.7%),[17] Egyptians (5.7% in El-Hayez;[18] 14.7% in Gurna[19]), Saudis (5.3–10%),[17] Soqotri (3.1%),[20] Nubians (1.3%),[17] and Yemenis (0–13.9%).[17]


Among all these clades, the subhaplogroups H1 and H3 have been subject to a more detailed study and would be associated to the Magdalenian expansion from SW Europe c. 13,000 years ago:[21]


Projected spatial frequency distribution of haplogroup H1

H1 encompasses an important fraction of Western European mtDNA lineages, reaching its local peak among contemporary Basques (27.8%). The clade also occurs at high frequencies elsewhere in the Iberian Peninsula, as well as in the Maghreb (Tamazgha). The haplogroup frequency is above 10% in many other parts of Europe (France, Sardinia, parts of the British Isles, Alps, large portions of Eastern Europe), and surpasses 5% in nearly all of the continent.[1] Its H1b subclade is most common in eastern Europe and NW Siberia.[22]

As of 2010, the highest frequency of the H1 subclade has been found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Fezzan region in Libya (61%).[23] The basal H1* haplogroup is found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Gossi area in Mali (4.76%).[24]

The rare H1cb subclade is concentrated among Fulani groups inhabiting the Sahel.[25]

Haplogroup H has been found in various fossils that were analysed for ancient DNA, including specimens associated with the Linearbandkeramik culture (H1e, Halberstadt-Sonntagsfeld, 1/22 or ~5%; H1 or H1au1b, Karsdorf, 1/2 or 50%), Germany Middle Neolithic (H1e1a, Esperstedt, 1/1 or 100%), Iberia Early Neolithic (H1, El Prado de Pancorbo, 1/2 or 50%), Iberia Middle Neolithic (H1, La Mina, 1/4 or 25%), and Iberia Chalcolithic (H1t, El Mirador Cave, 1/12 or ~8%).[26] Haplogroup H has been observed in ancient Guanche fossils excavated in Gran Canaria and Tenerife on the Canary Islands, which have been radiocarbon-dated to between the 7th and 11th centuries CE. At the Tenerife site, these clade-bearing individuals were found to belong to the H1cf subclade (1/7; ~14%); at the Gran Canaria site, the specimens carried the H2a subhaplogroup (1/4; 25%).[27] Additionally, ancient Guanche (Bimbaches) individuals excavated in Punta Azul, El Hierro, Canary Islands were all found to belong to the H1 maternal subclade. These locally born individuals were dated to the 10th century and carried the H1-16260 haplotype, which is exclusive to the Canary Islands and Algeria.[28]

Frequencies of haplogroup H1 in the world (Ottoni et al. 2010)
Region or Population H1% No. of subjects
Libyan Tuareg 61 129
Tuareg (West Sahel) 23.3 90
Berbers (Morocco) 20.2 217
Morocco 12.2 180
Berbers (Tunisia) 13.4 276
Tunisia 10.6 269
Mozabite 9.8 80
Siwas (Egypt) 1.1 184
Western Sahara 14.8 128
Mauritania 6.9 102
Senegal 0 100
Fulani (Chad–Cameroon) 0 186
Cameroon 0 142
Chad 0 77
Buduma (Niger) 0 30
Nigeria 0 69
Ethiopia 0 82
Amhara (Ethiopia) 0 90
Oromo (Ethiopia) 0 117
Sierra Leone 0 155
Guineans (Guiné Bissau) 0 372
Mali 0 83
Kikuyu (Kenya) 0 24
Benin 0 192
Central Asia 0.7 445
Pakistan 0 100
Yakuts 1.7 58
Caucasus (north) 8.8 68
Caucasus (south) 2.3 132
Northwestern Caucasus 4.7 234
Armenians 2.3 175
Daghestan 2.5 269
Georgians 1 193
Karachay-Balkars 4.4 203
Ossetians 2.4 296
Andalusia 24.3 103
Basques (Spain) 27.8 108
Catalonia 13.9 101
Galicia 17.7 266
Pasiegos (Cantabria) 23.5 51
Portugal 25.5 499
Spain (miscellaneous) 18.9 132
Italy (north) 11.5 322
Italy (center) 6.3 208
Italy (south) 8.7 206
Sardinia 17.9 106
Sicily 10 90
Finland 18 78
Volga-Ural Finnic speakers 13.6 125
Basques (France) 17.5 40
Béarnaise 14.8 27
France 12.3 106
Estonia 16.7 114
Saami 0 57
Lithuania 1.7 180
Hungary 11.3 303
Czech Republic 10.8 102
Ukraine 9.9 191
Poland 9.3 86
Russia 13.5 312
Austria 10.6 2487
Germany 6 100
Romania 9.4 360
Netherlands 8.8 34
Greece (Aegean islands) 1.6 247
Greece (mainland) 6.3 79
Macedonia 7.1 252
Albania 2.9 105
Turks 3.3 360
Balkans 5.4 111
Croatia 8.3 84
Slovaks 7.6 119
Slovak (East) 16.8 137
Slovak (West) 14.2 70
Middle East
Arabian Peninsula 0 94
Arabian Peninsula (incl. Yemen, Oman) 0.8 493
Druze 3.4 58
Dubai (United Arab Emirates) 0.4 249
Iraq 1.9 206
Jordanians 1.7 173
Lebanese 4.2 167
Syrians 0 159


H3 is found throughout the whole of Europe and in the Maghreb but does not exist in the Far East[vague],[1] and is believed to have originated among Mesolithic hunter-gatherers in south-western Europe between 9 000 and 11 000 years ago. H3 represents the second largest fraction of the H genome after H1 and has a somewhat similar distribution, with peaks in Portugal, Spain, Scandinavia and Finland. It is common in Portugal (12%), Sardinia (11%), Galicia (10%), the Basque country (10%), Ireland (6%), Norway (6%), Hungary (6%) and southwestern France (5%).[1][29][30] Studies have suggested haplogroup H3 is highly protective against AIDS progression.[31]

Example of H3 sub-groups are:[30]

  • H3a and H3g, found in north-west Europe;
  • H3b and H3k, found in the British Isles and Catalonia;
  • H3c, found in Western Europe, including among the Basques;
  • H3h, found throughout northern Europe, including the remains of Cerdic (519 to 534), King of Wessex;[32]
  • H3i found in Ireland and Scotland;
  • H3j found in Italy;
  • H3v found especially in Germanic countries and;
  • H3z found in Atlantic Europe.

The basal H3* haplogroup is found among the Tuareg inhabiting the Gossi area in Mali (4.76%).[24]


H5 may have evolved in West Asia, where it is most frequent and diverse in the Western Caucasus. However, its H5a subclade has a stronger representation in Europe, though at low levels.[33]

H2, H6 and H8[edit]

The H2, H6 and H8 haplogroups are somewhat common in Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.[21] They may be the most common H subclades among Central Asians and have also been found in West Asia.[22] H2a5 has been found in the Basque Country, Spain,[34] and in Norway, Ireland and Slovakia.[3] H6a1a1a is common among Ashkenazi Jews.[35]

H7 and H13[edit]

These H4, H7 and H13 subhaplogroups are present in both Europe and West Asia; the H13 subclade is also found in the Caucasus; H13c was found in a 9,700 year old sample in Mesolithic Georgia.[36] They are quite rare.[21]


H4 is often found in the Iberian peninsula,[34] Britain and Ireland at levels between 1-5% of the population. It is associated with Neolithic migrations.

H4 and H13, along with H2 account for 42% of the hg H lineages in Egypt.[37]


Haplogroup H10 is subclade which came into existence between 6,300 and 10,900 years ago. Its descendant branches are H10a H10b H10c H10d H10e H10f H10g and H10h.[38]

Haplogroup H10e has been found at a neolithic site, namely the Bom Santo cave near Lisbon. This is the oldest sample of H10 which has ever been found and it has been dated to 3735 BCE (+- 45 years).[39]


H11 is commonly found in Central Europe.[34]


H18 occurs on the Arabian Peninsula. [40]

H20 and H21[edit]

These haplogroups are both found in the Caucasus region.[33] H20 also appears at low levels in the Iberian Peninsula (less than 1%), Arabian Peninsula (1%) and Near East (2%).[40]

H22 through H95a[edit]

These subclades are found mostly in Europe, South-West Asia and Central Asia.

H91A is associated with the Uyghur ethnic minority of western China.[41]


Phylogenetic tree of haplogroup H

This phylogenetic tree of haplogroup H subclades is based on Build 16(February 2014) of the Phylotree, an internationally accepted standard.[42] The full tree can be viewed at Phylotree.

Genetic traits[edit]

Haplogroup H was found as a possible increased risk factor for ischemic cardiomyopathy development.[43]

Popular culture[edit]

In his popular book The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes named the originator of this mtDNA haplogroup Helena. Stephen Oppenheimer uses the very similar name Helina in his book The Origins of the British.

See also[edit]

Phylogenetic tree of human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroups

  Mitochondrial Eve (L)    
L0 L1–6  
L1 L2   L3     L4 L5 L6
M N  
CZ D E G Q   O A S R   I W X Y
C Z B F R0   pre-JT   P   U


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External links[edit]