An understanding of population relationships in the Mediterranean region is crucial to the reconstruction of recent human evolution. Andalusia, the most southern region of Spain, has been continuously and densely occupied since ancient times and has a rich history of contacts with many different Mediterranean populations. Thus, to understand the Mediterranean peopling process, investigators should analyze the population relationships between the Iberian peninsula and northern Africa based on an assessment of genetic diversity that takes Andalusia into consideration. The aim of this study was to address the extent of genetic variation in the Iberian peninsula between its geographic extremes (Huelva and the Basque area) and to explain the intensity of the phylogenetic relationships between Andalusians and other neighboring populations, such as those from North Africa. We present, for the first time, results on allotype markers (GM and KM) of human immunoglobulins in the Andalusian population from Huelva. The most frequent GM haplotypes in Andalusia correspond to those that are also the most common in Europe. A sub-Saharan haplotype was found at a relatively high frequency compared to other Iberian samples, and a North Asian marker did not reach polymorphic frequencies in the study sample. A hierarchical cluster analysis based on the first two principal components (94.1% of the total genetic variance) revealed an interesting geographic structure for the 49 populations selected from the literature. The Huelva sample showed a central position in the multivariate space—despite being geographically located at one of the extremes of the Mediterranean basin—and clustered with most Western European populations. Western Europe and Eastern Europe (the latter group paradoxically including Italy and the major islands of the western Mediterranean) were differentiated. North African populations were grouped in two clusters that did not separate either Arabs and Berbers or their present-day countries. Analysis of immunoglobulin allotype markers shows that gene flow among human populations should generally be interpreted in terms of complex patterns, with the observed frequencies being the consequence of the entire genetic and demographic history of the population. Single historical events rarely determine gene frequencies in large human populations. Analysis of the GM system has shown that the Andalusian population from Huelva, as a result of its complex history, is not simply an outstanding part of the Mediterranean world but rather the genetic center of gravity of that world.
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Vol. 78 • No. 6