This article discusses a research study to determine how well modern Native American individuals’ ancestry can be inferred, or evolutionary relationships among Native American populations and their Eurasian origins can be determined.
Autosomal DNA polymorphisms can provide new information and understanding of both the origins of and relationships among modern Native American populations. At the same time that autosomal markers can be highly informative, they are also susceptible to ascertainment biases in the selection of the markers to use. Identifying markers that can be used for ancestry inference among Native American populations can be considered separate from identifying markers to further the quest for history. In the current study, the authors are using data on nine Native American populations to compare the results based on a large haplotype-based dataset with relatively small independent sets of single nucleotide polymorphisms. They are interested in what types of limited datasets an individual laboratory might be able to collect are best for addressing two different questions of interest. First, how well can the authors differentiate the Native American populations and/or infer ancestry by assigning an individual to her population(s) of origin? Second, how well can they infer the historical/evolutionary relationships among Native American populations and their Eurasian origins? The authors conclude that only a large comprehensive dataset involving multiple autosomal markers on multiple populations will be able to answer both questions; different small sets of markers are able to answer only one or the other of these questions. Using their largest dataset, the authors see a general increasing distance from Old World populations from North to South in the New World except for an unexplained close relationship between Maya and Quechua samples. (Published Abstract Provided)
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