Acta Biológica Colombiana
Print version ISSN 0120-548X
CASTRO DE GUERRA, DINORAH et al. Mitochondrial diversity in Northwest Venezuela. Implications for probable prehispanic migratory routes.. Acta biol.Colomb. [online]. 2009, vol.14, n.1, pp. 173-184. ISSN 0120-548X.
Mitocondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been widely used to study genetic relationships between contemporary Amerindian groups and to infer ancestral migration movements; however inferences about migration routes of prehispanic extinct groups are difficult. Admixture of Neoamerican groups has been characterized by unions between European males and Amerindian females. This allows the identification in present populations of Amerindian mitocondrial haplogroups which give information on ancestral groups. In order to investigate female lineages present in western Venezuela, RFLP haplogroups from mtDNA were obtained from 193 individuals with grandparents from this region, 81 from the State of Lara (Barquisimeto) and 112 from 3 towns of the State of Falcon (Macuquita=25; Macanilla=29 and Churuguara=58). Comparison of haplogroup distributions between groups was performed, and admixture estimates based on female lineages were obtained. The distribution of four Amerindian haplogroups was compared with those of other populations from the American Continent. In our four samples Amerindian haplogroups predominate, followed by those of African origin. In the comparison of the mtDNA Amerindian fraction with other populations we find that Macanillas, Lara and Churuguara are similar to South American and Amazonian groups whilst Macuquita is similar to groups from Aruba. Our findings suggest an important genetic diversity in this region, explained by migration routes to and from the south and the Caribean. They also suggest genetic relationship between prehispanic groups from Aruba and those from the Paraguaná peninsula, which have been inferred by archeological evidences. An increase in sample size and analysis of sequences for more precision is recommended.
Keywords : Mitocondrial DNA; haplogroups; Venezuelan population; Amerindians.