The mtDNA profile of an ancient Siberian is known and available for comparison to individuals who are curious whether they may have descended from the same lineage. The story below outlines how the mtDNA profile of the ancient Siberian was discovered.

Siberian DNA

Siberian and Native American populations share many cultural, morphological and genetic similarities. The general consensus is that Native Americans migrated from Siberia through Beringia, when Russia and Canada were linked during the last glaciation. However, subsequent migrations and demographic events in both Siberia and North America make it difficult to trace the timing of this migration and to identify the source population. The best approach to characterize the migration from Siberia is by DNA analysis of ancient Siberian populations. Luckily, the inhospitable conditions of Siberia provide an ideal environment for the preservation of these ancient human remains.

What DNA analyses were conducted?

In 1980, a research team discovered a tomb in northeastern Siberia containing the remains of a young woman. These remains were radiocarbon-dated at approximately 3600 years before present, but due to the well-preserved nature of the remains, mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) analyses from a femoral bone were still successful. The high copy number (hundreds of copies per cell), rapid evolution rate and strict maternal inheritance of mtDNA make this DNA type the most suitable and informative for the analysis of ancient human remains. There are three regions of the mtDNA that can be analyzed – two hypervariable regions (HVR1 and HVR2) and the coding region.

The HVR1 region was sequenced from the ancient remains of the young woman. Three variations (16223T, 16298C and 16327T) from the Cambridge Reference Sequence were identified, placing this woman in mtDNA haplogroup C. These variations and haplogroup are frequently found in east and south Siberian populations and less often in East Asian populations. Haplogroup C is also thought to be one of the four major founding haplogroups of Native American populations.

Conclusions

The mtDNA analysis of this ancient Siberian woman supports the hypothesis that mtDNA containing these three specific variations (16223T, 16298C and 16327T) could be the original sequence for the common haplogroup C in Asian populations. This analysis also supports the hypothesis that Native Americans migrated from Siberia through Beringia, when Russia and Canada were linked during the last glaciation. However, further analyses of other ancient human remains are still required to pinpoint the timing and source populations of these migrations from Siberia.

DNA Database Comparisons

The DNA tests conducted in these studies have identified a mtDNA HVR1 sequence from an ancient Yakut female. If you have taken the mtDNA HVR1 (Standard Maternal Ancestry) test, you can compare your mtDNA against this sequence to see if you share a similar mtDNA profile.