X-chromosome lineages and the settlement of the Americas



Most genetic studies on the origins of Native Americans have examined data from mtDNA and Y-chromosome DNA. To complement these studies and to broaden our understanding of the origin of Native American populations, we present an analysis of 1,873 X-chromosomes representing Native American (n = 438) and other continental populations (n = 1,435). We genotyped 36 polymorphic sites, forming an informative haplotype within an 8-kb DNA segment spanning exon 44 of the dystrophin gene. The data reveal continuity from a common Eurasian ancestry between Europeans, Siberians, and Native Americans. However, the loss of two haplotypes frequent in Eurasia (18.8 and 7%) and the rise in frequency of a third haplotype rare elsewhere, indicate a major population bottleneck in the peopling of the Americas. Although genetic drift appears to have played a greater role in the genetic differentiation of Native Americans than in the latitudinally distributed Eurasians, we also observe a signal of a differentiated ancestry of southern and northern populations that cannot be simply explained by the serial southward dilution of genetic diversity. It is possible that the distribution of X-chromosome lineages reflects the genetic structure of the population of Beringia, itself issued from founder effects and a source of subsequent southern colonization(s). Am J Phys Anthropol, 2009. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.