Mitochondrial Haplogroup V

This wave of migration into western Europe marked the appearance and spread of what archaeologists call the Aurignacian culture. The culture is distinguished by significant innovations in methods of manufacturing tools, standardization of tools, and use of a broader set of tool types, such as end-scrapers for preparing animal skins and tools for woodworking.


Around 15,000-20,000 years ago, colder temperatures and a drier global climate locked much of the world's fresh water at the polar ice caps, making living conditions near impossible for much of the northern hemisphere. Early Europeans retreated to the warmer climates of the Iberian Peninsula, Italy, and the Balkans, where they waited out the cold spell. Their population sizes were drastically reduced, and much of the genetic diversity that had previously existed in Europe was lost.


Beginning about 15,000 years ago—after the ice sheets had begun their retreat—humans moved north again and recolonized western Europe. Among these settlers was a new genetic lineage being introduced to the mitochondrial landscape, haplogroup V.

Today, haplogroup V tends to be restricted to western, central, and northern Europe. Its age is estimated at around 15,000 years old, indicating that it likely arose during the 5,000 years or so that humans were confined to the European refuge. It is found in around 12% of Basques, an isolated population in northern Spain, and around 5% in many other Western European populations. It is also found in Algeria and Morocco, indicating that these humans migrating out of the Iberian Peninsula also headed south across the Straight of Gibraltar and into North Africa. Its genetic diversity, and thus age, reduces gradually moving west to east, indicating the migratory direction these groups followed during the recolonization.


Interestingly, haplogroup V attains its highest frequency in the Skolt Saami of northern Scandinavia, a group of hunter-gatherers who follow the reindeer herds seasonally from Siberia to Scandinavia and back. While V makes up about half the mitochondrial lineages in the Saami, its genetic diversity is considerably reduced compared to that observed in Western Europe, and was likely introduced into the Saami within the past several thousand years.


Haplogroup V is a good example of the effect that population dynamics such as bottleneck events, founder effect, genetic drift, and rapid population growth, have on the genetic diversity of resulting populations.



V (aka HV0a2)

  • V1
    • V1a
      • V1a1: found mostly from central to northeast Europe
        • V1a1a: found in Scandinavia, Finland and Baltic countries
        • V1a1b
    • V1b
  • V2: found in the British Isles
    • V2a: found in Ireland
    • V2b: found in England
    • V2c: found in England
  • V3
    • V3a: found in northwest Europe
    • V3b
    • V3c: found in northern, central and eastern Europe
  • V4: found in France
  • V5: found in Lapland
  • V6: found in France
  • V7
    • V7a: found mostly in Slavic countries, but also in Sweden, Germany and France
    • V7b: found in eastern Europe and France
  • V8: found in Sweden
  • V9
    • V9a: found in the British Isles
      • V9a1
      • V9a2
  • V10: found in the British Isles, northwest France and Sweden
    • V10a
    • V10b
  • V11
  • V12: found in Germany
  • V13: found in Norway, Hungary and Russia
  • V14: found in Poland and Iberia
  • V15: found in England, Norway and Armenia
  • V16: found in Britain, Germany and Denmark
  • V17: found in England
  • V18: found in the Netherlands, Germany and Italy
  • V19
  • V20: found in Norway
  • V21