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Health

Argentina, the indigenous foremothers

Gene ExpressionBy Razib KhanAugust 25, 2009 9:08 AM

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Dienekes points to a new paper, Amerindian mitochondrial DNA haplogroups predominate in the population of Argentina: towards a first nationwide forensic mitochondrial DNA sequence database:

The study presents South American mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) data from selected north (N = 98), central (N = 193) and south (N = 47) Argentinean populations. Sequence analysis of the complete mtDNA control region (CR, 16024-576) resulted in 288 unique haplotypes ignoring C-insertions around positions 16193, 309, and 573; the additional analysis of coding region single nucleotide polymorphisms enabled a fine classification of the described lineages. The Amerindian haplogroups were most frequent in the north and south representing more than 60% of the sequences. A slightly different situation was observed in central Argentina where the Amerindian haplogroups represented less than 50%, and the European contribution was more relevant. Particular clades of the Amerindian subhaplogroups turned out to be nearly region-specific. A minor contribution of African lineages was observed throughout the country. This comprehensive admixture of worldwide mtDNA lineages and the regional specificity of certain clades in the Argentinean population underscore the necessity of carefully selecting regional samples in order to develop a nationwide mtDNA database for forensic and anthropological purposes. The mtDNA sequencing and analysis were performed under EMPOP guidelines in order to attain high quality for the mtDNA database.

Unlike Mexico or Venezuela Argentina does not conceive of itself as a mestizo nation. In fact, it is not even primarily a Spanish-ancestry nation, because of the large contingent of Italians, as well as significant minorities of immigrants from Western and Northern Europe. And yet this is not an isolated finding, a large proportion of the mitochondrial lineages of Argentines seem to be of Amerindian origin. How can this be with the known waves of immigration and Europeanization of the country in the 19th and 20th centuries? I've discussed the likelihood of strongly male-biased immigration, replacing the indigenous autosomal and Y chromosomal genetic material, and leaving much of the direct-line female lineages intact. Cite: International Journal of Legal Medicine, 2009 Aug 13, DIO:10.1007/s00414-009-0366-3

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