Genetic polymorphism and fertility parameters in the Aymara of Chile and Bolivia


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To determine whether increased fitness in natural populations is associated with heterozygosity, several studies have attempted to correlate heterozygosity at one or a few genetic loci with fitness‐related quantitative traits. The results have been equivocal at best. Furthermore, data on fertility‐related parameters and the extent of genetic polymorphism at a large number of loci in man are quite scanty. This report examines the association of four fertility‐related parameters (number of pregnancies, number of livebirths, number of children surviving at least one year and number of children alive at the time of the survey) with heterozygosity at 17 polymorphic immunological and biochemical systems in the Aymara of Chile and Bolivia. Women 45 years of age and above, on whom complete fertility histories and phenotype data are available, were included in the study (n=190). None of the fertility parameters seem to be correlated with heterozygosity, as measured by the proportion of polymorphic loci. For some individual loci, however, an association between heterozygous state and fertility parameters exists. Even in these cases, heterozygosity did not always confer higher fertility. To see whether these negative results are due to heterogeneity in the data, the total sample was divided according to altitude of residence and ethnicity. The conclusions remained the same, indicating that the lack of association of these fertility parameters with genetic polymorphism is not due to population heterogeneity alone. Reproductive fitness differentials, therefore, were not detectable in the Aymara by heterozygosity determined by the polymorphic genetic systems scored by serological and electrophoretic techniques.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-82
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of Human Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1986


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