Demographic history of indigenous populations in Mesoamerica based on mtDNA sequence data

Antonio González-Martín, Amaya Gorostiza, Lucía Regalado-Liu, Sergio Arroyo-Peña, Sergio Tirado, Ismael Nuño-Arana, Rodrigo Rubi-Castellanos, Karla Sandoval, Michael D. Coble, Héctor Rangel-Villalobos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


The genetic characterization of Native American groups provides insights into their history and demographic events. We sequenced the mitochondrial D-loop region (control region) of 520 samples from eight Mexican indigenous groups. In addition to an analysis of the genetic diversity, structure and genetic relationship between 28 Native American populations, we applied Bayesian skyline methodology for a deeper insight into the history of Mesoamerica. AMOVA tests applying cultural, linguistic and geographic criteria were performed. MDS plots showed a central cluster of Oaxaca and Maya populations, whereas those from the North and West were located on the periphery. Demographic reconstruction indicates higher values of the effective number of breeding females (Nef) in Central Mesoamerica during the Preclassic period, whereas this pattern moves toward the Classic period for groups in the North and West. Conversely, Nef minimum values are distributed either in the Lithic period (i.e. founder effects) or in recent periods (i.e. population declines). The Mesomerican regions showed differences in population fluctuation as indicated by the maximum Inter-Generational Rate (IGRmax): i) Center-South from the lithic period until the Pre-classic; ii) West from the beginning of the Preclassic period until early Classic; iii) North characterized by a wide range of temporal variation from the Lithic to the Preclassic. Our findings are consistent with the genetic variations observed between central, South and Southeast Mesoamerica and the North-West region that are related to differences in genetic drift, structure, and temporal survival strategies (agriculture versus hunter-gathering, respectively). Interestingly, although the European contact had a major negative.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0131791
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number8
StatePublished - 20 Aug 2015


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