How many populations set foot through the Patagonian door? Genetic composition of the current population of Bahía Blanca (Argentina) based on data from 19 Alu polymorphisms.
Resano M, Esteban E, González-Pérez E, Vía M, Athanasiadis G, Avena S, Goicoechea A, Bartomioli M, Fernández V, Cabrera A, Dejean C, Carnese F, Moral P.
Am J Hum Biol. 2007 Sep 17; [Epub ahead of print]
Abstract: The city of Bahía Blanca occupies a strategic place in Argentina south of the Pampean region in the north-east corner of the Patagonia. Since 1828, this city has been the historical and political border between Amerindian lands in the south, and the lands of European colonists. Nowadays, Bahía Blanca is an urban population mainly composed by descendents of immigrants from Spain and other European countries with apparently low admixture with Amerindians. In view of the unexpectedly high Amerindian admixture levels (about 46.7%) suggested by mtDNA data, and protein markers (19.5%), we analyzed a set of 19 Alu polymorphisms (18 autosomal, 1 of Chromosome Y) in a well-documented genealogical sample from Bahía Blanca. The genotyped sample was made up of 119 unrelated healthy individuals whose birth place and grandparent origins were fully documented. According to available genealogical records, the total sample has been subdivided into two groups: Bahía Blanca Original (64 individuals with all 4 gandparents born in Argentina) and Bahía Blanca Mix (55 individuals with one to three grandparents born out of Argentina). Allele frequencies and gene diversity values in Bahía Blanca fit well into the European ranges. Population relationships have been tested for 8 Alu markers, whose variation has been described in several Amerindian and European samples. Reynolds genetic distances underline the significant genetic similarity of Bahía Blanca to Europeans (mean distance 0.044) and their differentiation from Amerindians (0.146). Interestingly enough, when the general sample is divided, Bahía Blanca Original appears slightly closer to Amerindians (0.127) in contrast to Bahía Blanca Mix (0.161). Furthermore, the genetic relationships depicted through a principal components analysis emphasize the relative similarity of Bahía Blanca Original to Amerindians. A thorough knowledge of the sample origins has allowed us to make a subtle distinction of the genetic composition of Bahía Blanca.