Whole mitogenomes reveal that NW Africa has acted both as a source and a destination for multiple human movements.
Despite being enclosed between the Mediterranean Sea and the Sahara Desert, North Africa has been the scenario of multiple human migrations that have shaped the genetic structure of its present-day populations. Despite its richness, North Africa remains underrepresented in genomic studies. To overcome this, we have sequenced and analyzed 264 mitogenomes from the Algerian Chaoui-speaking Imazighen (a.k.a. Berbers) living in the Aurès region. The maternal genetic composition of the Aurès is similar to Arab populations in the region, dominated by West Eurasian lineages with a moderate presence of M1/U6 North African and L sub-Saharan lineages. When focusing on the time and geographic origin of the North African specific clades within the non-autochthonous haplogroups, different geographical neighboring regions contributed to the North African maternal gene pool during time periods that could be attributed to previously suggested admixture events in the region, since Paleolithic times to recent historical movements such as the Arabization. We have also observed the role of North Africa as a source of geneflow mainly in Southern European regions since Neolithic times. Finally, the present work constitutes an effort to increase the representation of North African populations in genetic databases, which is key to understand their history.