Salas, Antonio, Lovo-Gómez, José, Álvarez-Iglesias, Vanesa, Cerezo, María, Lareu, María Victoria, Macaulay, Vincent, Richards, Martin B. and Carracedo, Ángel (2009) Mitochondrial Echoes of First Settlement and Genetic Continuity in El Salvador. PLoS ONE, 4 (9). e6882. ISSN 1932-6203

From Paleo-Indian times to recent historical episodes, the Mesoamerican isthmus played an important role in the distribution and patterns of variability all around the double American continent. However, the amount of genetic information currently available on Central American continental populations is very scarce. In order to shed light on the role of Mesoamerica in the peopling of the New World, the present study focuses on the analysis of the mtDNA variation in a population sample from El Salvador.

Methodology/Principal Findings
We have carried out DNA sequencing of the entire control region of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) genome in 90 individuals from El Salvador. We have also compiled more than 3,985 control region profiles from the public domain and the literature in order to carry out inter-population comparisons. The results reveal a predominant Native American component in this region: by far, the most prevalent mtDNA haplogroup in this country (at ~90%) is A2, in contrast with other North, Meso- and South American populations. Haplogroup A2 shows a star-like phylogeny and is very diverse with a substantial proportion of mtDNAs (45%; sequence range 16090–16365) still unobserved in other American populations. Two different Bayesian approaches used to estimate admixture proportions in El Salvador shows that the majority of the mtDNAs observed come from North America. A preliminary founder analysis indicates that the settlement of El Salvador occurred about 13,400±5,200 Y.B.P.. The founder age of A2 in El Salvador is close to the overall age of A2 in America, which suggests that the colonization of this region occurred within a few thousand years of the initial expansion into the Americas.

As a whole, the results are compatible with the hypothesis that today's A2 variability in El Salvador represents to a large extent the indigenous component of the region. Concordant with this hypothesis is also the observation of a very limited contribution from European and African women (~5%). This implies that the Atlantic slave trade had a very small demographic impact in El Salvador in contrast to its transformation of the gene pool in neighbouring populations from the Caribbean facade.

RichardsMitochondrialjournal.pone.0006882.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution.

Download (303kB) | Preview


Downloads per month over past year

Add to AnyAdd to TwitterAdd to FacebookAdd to LinkedinAdd to PinterestAdd to Email