CAN MITOCHONDRIAL DNA PROVIDE INFORMATION ON THE ETHNOGENESIS OF CHILEAN NATIVE POPULATIONS?
¿PUEDE EL ADN MITOCONDRIAL PROPORCIONAR INFORMACIÓN SOBRE LA ETNOGÉNESIS DE LOS PUEBLOS ORIGINARIOS CHILENOS?
Francisco Rothhammer, Giannina Puddu y Macarena Fuentes-Guajardo
Despite efforts made by numerous researchers, existing knowledge about the origin of the majority of Chilean ethnic populations continues to be fragmentary and partially contradictory. Our aim is to contribute to the clarification of this important aspect of Chilean history, from the perspective of historical genetics. We first examine the variation of pan-American haplogroups of mitochondrial DNA (A, B, C and D) in five natural regions of continental Chile: Norte Grande (Far North), Norte Chico (Near North), Central Zone, Southern Zone and Southernmost Zone. When evaluating the distribution of men and women of American ancestral origin, the predominance of women over men is noticeable. In contrast, when the gender distribution of individuals of European ancestral origin is analyzed, male predominance is consistently observed. Next we calculated genetic distances between representatives of different ethnic groups of the southern cone of South America, the natural regions of Chile and mixed populations of Brazil, Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. As expected, genetic distances indicate proximity between Quechua, Aymara, and Atacameño and the Norte Grande, and between Pehuenche, Mapuche, Huilliche, Tehuelche, Alacalufe, Yagan and Ona and the Southern and Southernmost Zone. In addition, displacements of groups and population mixing involving the Amazon, Central Andes and Argentina are revealed, contributing to a clearer understanding of the geographical origin of Chilean ethnic groups.