Genetic assessment reveals no population substructure and divergent regional and sex-specific histories in the Chachapoyas from northeast Peru

Evelyn K. Guevara, Jukka U. Palo, Sanni Översti, Jonathan L. King, Maria Seidel, Monika Stoljarova, Frank R. Wendt, Magdalena M. Bus, Anna Guengerich, Warren B. Church, Sonia Guillén, Lutz Roewer, Bruce Budowle, Antti Sajantila

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3 Scopus citations


Many native populations in South America have been severely impacted by two relatively recent historical events, the Inca and the Spanish conquest. However decisive these disruptive events may have been, the populations and their gene pools have been shaped markedly also by the history prior to the conquests. This study focuses mainly on the Chachapoya peoples that inhabit the montane forests on the eastern slopes of the northern Peruvian Andes, but also includes three distinct neighboring populations (the Jívaro, the Huancas and the Cajamarca). By assessing mitochondrial, Y-chromosomal and autosomal diversity in the region, we explore questions that have emerged from archaeological and historical studies of the regional culture (s). These studies have shown, among others, that Chachapoyas was a crossroads for Coast-Andes-Amazon interactions since very early times. In this study, we examine the following questions: 1) was there pre-Hispanic genetic population substructure in the Chachapoyas sample? 2) did the Spanish conquest cause a more severe population decline on Chachapoyan males than on females? 3) can we detect different patterns of European gene flow in the Chachapoyas region? and, 4) did the demographic history in the Chachapoyas resemble the one from the Andean area? Despite cultural differences within the Chachapoyas region as shown by archaeological and ethnohistorical research, genetic markers show no significant evidence for past or current population substructure, although an Amazonian gene flow dynamic in the northern part of this territory is suggested. The data also indicates a bottleneck c. 25 generations ago that was more severe among males than females, as well as divergent population histories for populations in the Andean and Amazonian regions. In line with previous studies, we observe high genetic diversity in the Chachapoyas, despite the documented dramatic population declines. The diverse topography and great biodiversity of the northeastern Peruvian montane forests are potential contributing agents in shaping and maintaining the high genetic diversity in the Chachapoyas region.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0244497
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number12 December 2020
StatePublished - Dec 2020


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