Tracing the genetic history of the Chinese people: Mitochondrial DNA analysis of aneolithic population from the Lajia site

Authors

  • Shi-Zhu Gao,

    1. Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
    2. College of Pharmacia Sciences, Jilin University, Changchun 130021, China
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  • Yi-Dai Yang,

    1. Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
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  • Yue Xu,

    1. College of Life Science, Jilin University, Changchun 130023, China
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  • Quan-Chao Zhang,

    1. Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
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  • Hong Zhu,

    1. Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
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  • Hui Zhou

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology of Jilin University, Changchun 130012, China
    2. College of Life Science, Jilin University, Changchun 130023, China
    • Laboratory of Ancient DNA, Research Center for Chinese Frontier Archaeology, Jilin University, Jiefang Road 115, Changchun, 130023 China
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Abstract

Ancient DNA analysis was conducted on the dental remains of specimens from the Lajia site, dating back 3,800–4,000 years. The Lajia site is located in Minhe county, Qinghai province, in northwestern China. Archaeological studies link Lajia to the late period of the Qijia culture, one of the most important Neolithic civilizations of the upper Yellow River region, the cradle of Chinese civilization. Excavations at the site revealed that the inhabitants died in their houses as the result of a sudden flood. The Lajia site provides a rare chance to study the putative families, all of whom died at the same instant. Possible maternal familial relationships were investigated through mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequence analysis. Twelve sequences from individuals found in one house were assigned to only five haplotypes, consistent with a possible close kinship. Results from analyses of RFLP typing and HVI motifs suggest that the Lajia people belonged to the haplogroups B, C, D, M*, and M10. This study, combined with archaeological and anthropological investigations, provides a better understanding of the genetic history of the Chinese people. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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