The purpose of this study was to compare the mtDNA haplogroup data of elite groups of Jamaican and African-American sprinters against respective controls to assess any differences in maternal lineage. The first hypervariable region of mtDNA was haplogrouped in elite Jamaican athletes (N=107) and Jamaican controls (N=293), and elite African-American athletes (N=119) and African-American controls (N=1148). Exact tests of total population differentiation were performed on total haplogroup frequencies. The frequency of non-sub-Saharan haplogroups in Jamaican athletes and Jamaican controls was similar (1.87% and 1.71%, respectively) and lower than that of African-American athletes and African-American controls (21.01% and 8.19%, respectively). There was no significant difference in total haplogroup frequencies between Jamaican athletes and Jamaican controls (P=0.551 ± 0.005); however, there was a highly significant difference between African-American athletes and African-American controls (P<0.001). The finding of statistically similar mtDNA haplogroup distributions in Jamaican athletes and Jamaican controls suggests that elite Jamaican sprinters are derived from the same source population and there is neither population stratification nor isolation for sprint performance. The significant difference between African-American sprinters and African-American controls suggests that the maternal admixture may play a role in sprint performance.Reference: Deason et al. Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2011 Mar 16. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0838.2010.01289.x. [Epub ahead of print]
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Among African Americans, no individual haplogroup produced significant findings for Bonferroni-adjusted critical a of 0.003, presented in Table 3. Interestingly, the nonsub- Saharan paragroup was highly significant in overrepresentation within athletes. This may indicate an advantage possessed by more admixed individuals. While maternal admixture contributing any environmental and social advantages with regard to athletic training and development cannot be ruled out, further investigation into the amount of admixture in the autosomal genome is required to assess the overall non-African genomic component. In addition to assessing differences between athletes and controls in either group, the haplogroup distributions of Jamaican controls and African-American controls were also compared. These two populations were found to have significantly different haplogroup distributions (Po0.001), providing further mitochondrial evidence of different population histories. The matrilineal distribution of both athlete populations differs significantly, suggesting no discernable distribution of lineages indicative of elite sprinting in these genetically distinct groups of West African descent.
Elite Afr-Am sprinters more admixed than Afr-Am non-athletes?
Though hardly definitive, this study certainly lends no support to the notion that black dominance of short sprints in the US can be explained purely as a consequence of West African DNA.