London: The maternal line of Otzi the Iceman, the Copper Age man who was discovered in a glacier in 1991, originated in the Alps but it may have now gone extinct, says new research.
For the study, the researchers compared his mitochondrial DNA (transmitted solely via the mother to her offspring) with 1,077 modern samples and concluded that the Iceman's maternal line -- named K1f -- is now extinct.
The results showed that the paternal lineage of Otzi was very common in different regions in Europe during the Neolithic age, while his maternal lineage probably existed only in the Alps.
"The mummy's mitochondrial DNA was the first to be analysed, in 1994," said first author of the study Valentina Coia, biologist at the European Academy of Bolzano/Bozen (EURAC) in Italy.
"It was relatively easy to analyse and -- along with the Y chromosome -- allows us to go back in time, telling us about the genetic history of an individual. Despite this, the genetic relationship between the Iceman's maternal lineage and lineages found in modern populations was not yet clear," Coia said.
Putting together the genetic data on the ancient and modern samples, namely those already present in literature and those analysed in this study, the new study found that Otzi's paternal lineage, named G2a, is part of an ancient genetic substrate that arrived in Europe from the Near East with the migrations of the first Neolithic peoples some 8,000 years ago.
In contrast, the Iceman's maternal branch originated locally in the eastern Alps at least 5,300 years ago, the researchers said.
The findings were detailed in the journal Scientific Reports.