Haplogroup K (mtDNA)

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This article is about the human mtDNA haplogroup. For the human Y-DNA haplogroup, see Haplogroup K-M9.
Haplogroup K
Possible time of origin ~12,000 years[1]
Possible place of origin Western Asia
Ancestor U8b'K
Descendants K1, K2
Defining mutations 3480 10550 11299 14798 16224 16311[2]

Haplogroup K is a human mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) haplogroup. It is defined by the HVR1 mutations 16224C and 16311C.


Haplogroup K is believed to have originated around 12,000 years ago in Western Asia.

It is the most common subclade of haplogroup U8b,[3] with an estimated age of c. 12,000 years BP.[4]


Projected spatial frequency distribution for haplogroup K.

Haplogroup K appears in West Eurasia, North Africa, the Horn of Africa and South Asia, and in populations with such an ancestry. Haplogroup K is found in approximately 10% of native Europeans.[5][6] Overall mtDNA Haplogroup K is found in about 6% of the population of Europe and the Near East, but it is more common in certain of these populations. Approximately 16% of the Druze of Syria, Lebanon, Israel, and Jordan, belong to haplogroup K.[7] It is also found among 8% of Palestinians.[8] Additionally, K reaches a level of 17% in Kurdistan.[9]

Approximately 32% of people with Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are in haplogroup K. This high percentage points to a genetic bottleneck occurring some 100 generations ago.[7] Ashkenazi mtDNA K clusters into three subclades seldom found in non-Jews: K1a1b1a, K1a9, and K2a2a. Thus it is possible to detect three individual female ancestors, who were thought to be from a Hebrew/Levantine mtDNA pool, whose descendants lived in Europe.[10] Recent studies suggest these clades originate from Western Europe.[11]

The average of European K frequency is 5.6%. K appears to be highest in the Morbihan (17.5%) and Périgord-Limousin (15.3%) regions of France, and in Norway and Bulgaria (13.3%).[12] The level is 12.5% in Belgium, 11% in Georgia and 10% in Austria and Great Britain.[9]

Haplogroup K is also found among Gurage (10%),[8] Syrians (9.1%),[8] Afar (6.3%),[8] Zenata Berbers (4.11%),[13] Reguibate Sahrawi (3.70%),[13] Oromo (3.3%),[8] Iraqis (2.4%),[8] Saudis (0%-10.5%),[8] Yemenis (0%-9.8%),[8] and Algerians (0%-4.3%).[13]

Ancient DNA[edit]

Haplogroup K has been found in the remains of three individuals from the Pre-Pottery Neolithic B site of Tell Ramad, Syria, dating from c. 6000 BC.[14] The clade was also discovered in skeletons of early farmers in Central Europe dated to around 5500-5300 BC, at percentages that were nearly double the percentage present in modern Europe. Some techniques of farming, together with associated plant and animal breeds, spread into Europe from the Near East. The evidence from ancient DNA suggests that the Neolithic culture spread by human migration.[15]

Analysis of the mtDNA of Ötzi, the frozen mummy from 3300 BC found on the Austrian-Italian border, has shown that Ötzi belongs to the K1 subclade. It cannot be categorized into any of the three modern branches of that subclade (K1a, K1b or K1c). The new subclade has provisionally been named K1ö for Ötzi.[16] Multiplex assay study was able to confirm that the Iceman's mtDNA belongs to a new European mtDNA clade with a very limited distribution amongst modern data sets.[17]

A woman buried some time between 2650 and 2450 BC in a presumed Amorite tomb at Terqa (Tell Ashara), Middle Euphrates Valley, Syria carried Haplogroup K.[18]

A lock of hair kept at a reliquary at Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte Baume basilica, France, which local tradition holds belonged to the biblical figure Marie-Madeleine, was also assigned to haplogroup K. Ancient DNA sequencing of a capillary bulb bore the K1a1b1a subclade, indicating that she was likely of Pharisian maternal origin.[19]

Haplogroup K1 has likewise been observed among specimens at the mainland cemetery in Kulubnarti, Sudan, which date from the Early Christian period (AD 550-800).[20]



This phylogenetic tree of haplogroup K subclades is based on the paper by Mannis van Oven and Manfred Kayser Updated comprehensive phylogenetic tree of global human mitochondrial DNA variation[2] and subsequent published research.

Genetic traits[edit]

A study involving Caucasian patients showed that individuals classified as haplogroup J or K demonstrated a significant decrease in risk of Parkinson's disease versus individuals carrying the most common haplogroup, H.[21]

In popular culture[edit]

In his popular book The Seven Daughters of Eve, Bryan Sykes named the originator of this mtDNA haplogroup Katrine.

On an 18 November 2005 broadcast of the Today Show, during an interview with Dr. Spencer Wells of The National Geographic Genographic Project, host Katie Couric was revealed to belong to haplogroup K. [2]

On 14 August 2007, Stephen Colbert was told by geneticist Spencer Wells that he is a member of this haplogroup during a segment on The Colbert Report.

Henry Louis Gates Jr. states that Meryl Streep belongs to Haplogroup K in his book "Faces of America".[22]

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


  1. ^ Soares, P; Ermini, L; Thomson, N; Mormina, M; Rito, T; Röhl, A; Salas, A; Oppenheimer, S; et al. (2009). "Correcting for Purifying Selection: An Improved Human Mitochondrial Molecular Clock". American Journal of Human Genetics. 84 (6): 740–59. doi:10.1016/j.ajhg.2009.05.001. PMC 2694979Freely accessible. PMID 19500773. 
  2. ^ a b van Oven, Mannis; Manfred Kayser (13 Oct 2008). "Updated comprehensive phylogenetic tree of global human mitochondrial DNA variation". Human Mutation. 30 (2): E386–E394. doi:10.1002/humu.20921. PMID 18853457. Retrieved 2009-05-20. 
  3. ^ A. González et al. The mitochondrial lineage U8a reveals a Paleolithic settlement in the Basque country, BMC Genomics, (2006)
  4. ^ Richards et al., Tracing European Founder Lineages in the Near Eastern mtDNA Pool. AJHG, 2000.
  5. ^ Bryan Sykes (2001). The Seven Daughters of Eve. London; New York: Bantam Press. ISBN 0393020185. 
  6. ^ "Maternal Ancestry". Oxford Ancestors. Retrieved 7 February 2013. 
  7. ^ a b Doron M. Behar et al. "MtDNA evidence for a genetic bottleneck in the early history of the Ashkenazi Jewish population."
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h Non, Amy. "ANALYSES OF GENETIC DATA WITHIN AN INTERDISCIPLINARY FRAMEWORK TO INVESTIGATE RECENT HUMAN EVOLUTIONARY HISTORY AND COMPLEX DISEASE" (PDF). University of Florida. Retrieved 17 April 2016.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Non" defined multiple times with different content (see the help page).
  9. ^ a b Lucia Simoni, Francesc Calafell, Davide Pettener, Jaume Bertranpetit, and Guido Barbujani, Geographic Patterns of mtDNA Diversity in Europe, American Journal of Human Genetics, vol. 66 (2000), pp. 262–278.
  10. ^ Behar, DM; Metspalu, E; Kivisild, T; et al. (March 2006). "The matrilineal ancestry of Ashkenazi Jewry: portrait of a recent founder event". Am. J. Hum. Genet. 78: 487–97. doi:10.1086/500307. PMC 1380291Freely accessible. PMID 16404693. 
  11. ^ [1]
  12. ^ Vincent Dubut et al., mtDNA polymorphisms in five French groups: importance of regional sampling, European Journal of Human Genetics vol. 12 (2004), pp. 293–300.
  13. ^ a b c Asmahan Bekada; Lara R. Arauna; Tahria Deba; Francesc Calafell; Soraya Benhamamouch; David Comas (September 24, 2015). "Genetic Heterogeneity in Algerian Human Populations". PLoS ONE. 10 (9): e0138453. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0138453. PMC 4581715Freely accessible. PMID 26402429. Retrieved 28 April 2016. ; S5 Table
  14. ^ Fernández Domínguez, E., Polimorfismos de DNA mitochondrial en poblaciones antiguas de la cuenca mediterránea. (Doctoral thesis 2005).
  15. ^ W. Haak, et al, "Ancient DNA from the First European Farmers in 7500-Year-Old Neolithic Sites", Science, vol. 310, no. 5750 (2005), pp. 1016-1018; B. Bramanti, "Ancient DNA: Genetic analysis of aDNA from sixteen skeletons of the Vedrovice," Anthropologie, vol. 46,l no. 2-3 (2008), pp. 153-160; B. Bramanti et al, "Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers," Science, (published online 3 Sep 2009).
  16. ^ Luca Ermini et al., "Complete Mitochondrial Genome Sequence of the Tyrolean Iceman," Current Biology, vol. 18, no. 21 (30 October 2008), pp. 1687-1693.
  17. ^ Endicott et al., "Genotyping human ancient mtDNA control and coding region polymorphisms with a multiplexed Single-Base-Extension assay: the singular maternal history of the Tyrolean Iceman," BMC Genetics, vol. 10, no. 29 (19 June 2009).
  18. ^ J. Tomczyk, et al., "Anthropological Analysis of the Osteological Material from an Ancient Tomb (Early Bronze Age) from the Middle Euphrates Valley, Terqa (Syria)," International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, published online ahead of print (2010).
  19. ^ Lucotte, Gérard (December 2016). "The Mitochondrial DNA Mitotype of Sainte Marie-Madeleine" (PDF). International Journal of Sciences. 5 (12). Retrieved 16 February 2017. 
  20. ^ Sirak, Kendra; Frenandes, Daniel; Novak, Mario; Van Gerven, Dennis; Pinhasi, Ron (2016). Abstract Book of the IUAES Inter-Congress 2016 - A community divided? Revealing the community genome(s) of Medieval Kulubnarti using next- generation sequencing. IUAES. 
  21. ^ van der Walt, Joelle M.; Nicodemus, Kristin K.; Martin, Eden R.; Scott, William K.; Nance, Martha A.; Watts, Ray L.; Hubble, Jean P.; Haines, Jonathan L.; Koller, William C.; Lyons, Kelly; Pahwa, Rajesh; Stern, Matthew B.; Colcher, Amy; Hiner, Bradley C.; Jankovic, Joseph; Ondo, William G.; Allen Jr., Fred H.; Goetz, Christopher G.; Small, Gary W.; Mastaglia, Frank; Stajich, Jeffrey M.; McLaurin, Adam C.; Middleton, Lefkos T.; Scott, Burton L.; Schmechel, Donald E.; Pericak-Vance, Margaret A.; Vance, Jeffery M. (2003). "Mitochondrial Polymorphisms Significantly Reduce the Risk of Parkinson Disease". The American Journal of Human Genetics. 72 (4): 804–811. doi:10.1086/373937. ISSN 0002-9297. 
  22. ^ Gates, Henry Louis Jr. (2010). Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered their Pasts. NYU Press. p. 49. ISBN 978-0-8147-3265-6. 

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