Genetic Chaos

Friday, May 07, 2004

Unequal Contributions of Male and Female Gene Pools From Parental Populations in the African Descendants of the City of Melo, Uruguay

In admixed populations, genetic contributions from males and females of specific parental populations can be of different proportions due to past directional mating during the process of genetic admixture. In this research paper, we provide evidence of such male- and female-specific differential admixture components of African, European, and American Indian origin in an admixed population from the city of Melo, in the northeastern region of Uruguay. From data on 11 autosomal markers from a sample of 41 individuals of mixed African descent, we estimated 47% African, 38% European, and 15% Amerindian contributions. In contrast, 6 mtDNA site-specific polymorphic markers showed that the mtDNA genome of these individuals was 52% African, 19% European, and 29% Amerindian, while from 3 Y-specific polymorphic sites, we estimated 30% African, 64% European, and 6% Amerindian contributions. We argue that this heterogeneity of admixture estimates results from disproportionate unions of European males with African and American Indian females from which this mixed African population was formed. Also, we argue that the asymmetry of the admixture estimates from the three sets of markers (autosomal, mtDNA, and Y-linked) is a result of the changes in the direction of mating during the history of the population. Implications of such evidence of directional mating are discussed, indicating the need of further demographic data for a quantitative assessment of the impact of directional mating on genetic structure of admixed populations.

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