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Analysis of admixture and genetic structure of two Native American groups of Southern Argentinean Patagonia

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Argentinean Patagonia is inhabited by people that live principally in urban areas and by small isolated groups of individuals that belong to indigenous aboriginal groups; this territory exhibits the lowest population density of the country. Mapuche and Tehuelche (Mapudungun linguistic branch), are the only extant Native American groups that inhabit the Argentinean Patagonian provinces of Río Negro and Chubut. Fifteen autosomal STRs, 17 Y-STRs, mtDNA full length control region sequence and two sets of Y and mtDNA-coding region SNPs were analyzed in a set of 434 unrelated individuals. The sample set included two aboriginal groups, a group of individuals whose family name included Native American linguistic root and urban samples from Chubut, Río Negro and Buenos Aires provinces of Argentina. Specific Y Amerindian haplogroup Q1 was found in 87.5 % in Mapuche and 58.82 % in Tehuelche, while the Amerindian mtDNA haplogroups were present in all the aboriginal sample contributors investigated. Admixture analysis performed by means of autosomal and Y-STRs showed the highest degree of admixture in individuals carrying Mapuche surnames, followed by urban populations, and finally by isolated Native American populations as less degree of admixture. The study provided novel genetic information about the Mapuche and Tehuelche people and allowed us to establish a genetic correlation among individuals with Mapudungun surnames that demonstrates not only a linguistic but also a genetic relationship to the isolated aboriginal communities, representing a suitable proxy indicator for assessing genealogical background.

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We would like to thank Dr. RF Carnese for kindly providing the aboriginal samples during the early ’90s and Dr. L. Saccomanno and S. Vannelli for helping in the sampling process of the Patagonian samples. This work was partly supported, by grants UBACyTB047, 2008–2010; UBACyT 2011-2014, Code 20020200100744, to DC and grant PIP 11420090100232-CONICET to AS.

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Correspondence to Andrea Sala or Daniel Corach.

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Daniel Corach and Andrea Sala are members of National Research Council of Argentina (Carrera del Investigador del Consejo Nacional de Investigaciones Científicas y Tecnológicas, CONICET).

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Sala, A., Corach, D. Analysis of admixture and genetic structure of two Native American groups of Southern Argentinean Patagonia. Mol Biol Rep 41, 1533–1543 (2014).

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