Genetic Structure of Native Americans inferred from diversity in 280 bases of mtDNA

One more from Molecular Biology and Evolution, this time investigating whether or not diversity seen in 280 bases of mtDNA from 886 people from 27 indigenous Americans is localized amongst populations. Or in other words, is the diversity seen in this short segment of mtDNA random or unique to groups?

The paper, “Native South American Genetic Structure and Prehistory Inferred from Hierarchical Modeling of mtDNA,” tells us in fact,

“[the] main discovery is that Eastern South America harbors more genetic variation than has been recognized. We find no evidence that there is increased identity by descent in the East relative to the total for South America. By contrast, we discovered that populations in the Western region, as a group, harbor more identity by descent than has been previously recognized, despite the fact that average identity by descent within groups is lower. In this light, there is no need to postulate separate founding populations for the East and the West because the variability in the East could serve as a source for the Western gene pools.

Pretty cool how all it takes is a short amount of mtDNA to consider who founded whom.

    Lewis, C.M., Long, J.C. (2008). Native South American Genetic Structure and Prehistory Inferred from Hierarchical Modeling of mtDNA. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 25(3), 478-486. DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msm225

2 thoughts on “Genetic Structure of Native Americans inferred from diversity in 280 bases of mtDNA

  1. This is very interesting. Is this based on a single diverse population entering South America, or are multiple waves entering South America but all heading East with only one wave heading down the Western side of the continent? The recent redating of Pedra Furada would seem to agree with this as it has been dated again to 40,000 ybp and is in the Eastern side of the continent. I think the genetic evidence is compelling but needs further work, since it is still based on small population samples.

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