[ Back to EurekAlert! ] Public release date: 20-Mar-2008
[ | E-mail Share Share ]

Contact: Mary Kohut
Press@plos.org
415-568-3457
Public Library of Science

A genetic study of Latin Americans sheds light on a troubled history

A recent molecular analysis of ancestry across Latin America has revealed a marked differentiation between regions and demonstrated a “genetic continuity” between pre-and post Columbian populations. This study, published March 21 in the open-access journal PLoS Genetics, provides the first broad description of how the genome diversity of populations from Latin America has been shaped by the colonial history of the region. The research involved the collaboration of teams at universities across Latin America, the US and Europe, led by Dr. Andres Ruiz-Linares from University College London.

The European colonization of the American continent, initiated in the late fifteenth century, brought with it not only social and political change, but also a dramatic shift from a Native American population to a largely mixed population. The genetic traces of this turbulent period in history are only now beginning to be explored with the molecular tools provided by the human genome project.

The researchers examined genetic markers across the human genome, in hundreds of individuals drawn from 13 mestizo populations found in seven Latin American countries. The picture obtained is that of a great variation in ancestry within and across regions, linked to and led by the colonization that occurred. It also appears that mostly Native and African women and European men contributed genes to the subsequent generations.

Interestingly, despite the fact that the European colonization occurred centuries ago, Latin Americans still preserve the genetic heritage of the local (in many cases now extinct) Native populations that mixed with the immigrants. This connection with the past has not been erased despite the current high mobility of individuals. Furthermore, it brings to life the “brotherhood” of each Latin American population to the Native populations that currently inhabit different countries.

In addition to providing a window into the past, the authors hope that these analyses will contribute to the design of studies aimed at identifying genes for diseases with different frequency in Native Americans and Europeans. Researchers have so far focused on populations from areas settled mainly by Native Americans and Europeans. The genomic diversity of populations across regions in the Americas with large African immigration is still mostly unexplored.

###

PLEASE ADD THIS LINK TO THE PUBLISHED ARTICLE IN ONLINE VERSIONS OF YOUR REPORT: http://www.plosgenetics.org/doi/pgen.1000037 (link will go live on Friday, March 21)

CITATION: Wang S, Ray N, Rojas W, Parra MV, Bedoya G, et al. (2008) Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos. PLoS Genet 4(3): e1000037. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000037

CONTACT:

Andrés Ruiz-Linares M.D., Ph.D.
Professor of Human Genetics
The Galton Laboratory
Department of Biology (Wolfson House)
University College London
4 Stephenson Way
London NW1 2HE
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7679 5049
Fax: +44 (0)20 7679 5052
e-mail: a.ruizlin@ucl.ac.uk

Disclaimer

This press release refers to an upcoming article in PLoS Genetics. The release is provided by the article authors. Any opinions expressed in this release or article are the personal views of the journal staff and/or article contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLoS. PLoS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the releases and articles and your use of such information.

About PLoS Genetics

PLoS Genetics (http://www.plosgenetics.org) reflects the full breadth and interdisciplinary nature of genetics and genomics research by publishing outstanding original contributions in all areas of biology. All works published in PLoS Genetics are open access. Everything is immediately and freely available online throughout the world subject only to the condition that the original authorship and source are properly attributed. Copyright is retained by the authors. The Public Library of Science uses the Creative Commons Attribution License.

About the Public Library of Science

The Public Library of Science (PLoS) is a non-profit organization of scientists and physicians committed to making the world's scientific and medical literature a freely available public resource. For more information, visit http://www.plos.org.



[ Back to EurekAlert! ] [ | E-mail Share Share ]

 


AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert! system.