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Keywords:

  • Y-chromosome;
  • Bahamas;
  • Africa;
  • phylogenetic;
  • Y-STR

Abstract

Over the past 500 years, the Bahamas has been influenced by a wide array of settlers, some of whom have left marked genetic imprints throughout the archipelago. To assess the extent of each group's genetic contributions, high-resolution Y-chromosome analyses were performed, for the first time, to delineate the patriarchal ancestry of six islands in the Northwest (Abaco and Grand Bahama) and Central (Eleuthera, Exuma, Long Island, and New Providence) Bahamas and their genetic relationships with previously published reference populations. Our results reveal genetic signals emanating primarily from African and European sources, with the predominantly sub-Saharan African and Western European haplogroups E1b1a-M2 and R1b1b1-M269, respectively, accounting for greater than 75% of all Bahamian patrilineages. Surprisingly, we observe notable discrepancies among the six Bahamian populations in their distribution of these lineages, with E1b1a-M2 predominating Y-chromosomes in the collections from Abaco, Exuma, Eleuthera, Grand Bahama, and New Providence, whereas R1b1b1-M269 is found at elevated levels in the Long Island population. Substantial Y-STR haplotype variation within sub-haplogroups E1b1a7a-U174 and E1b1ba8-U175 (greater than any continental African collection) is also noted, possibly indicating genetic influences from a variety of West and Central African groups. Furthermore, differential European genetic contributions in each island (with the exception of Exuma) reflect settlement patterns of the British Loyalists subsequent to the American Revolution. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.