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1 July 2017 Mitochondrial-DNA Phylogenetic Information and the Reconstruction of Human Population History: The South American Case
María Bárbara Postillone, S. Ivan Perez
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Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) sequences are becoming increasingly important in the study of human population history. Here, we explore the differences in the amount of information of different mtDNA regions and their utility for the reconstruction of South American population history. We analyzed six data sets comprising 259 mtDNA sequences from South America: Complete mtDNA, Coding, Control, hypervariable region I (HVRI), Control plus cytochrome b (cytb), and cytb plus 12S plus 16S. The amount of information in each data set was estimated employing several site-by-site and haplotype-based statistics, distances among sequences, neighbor-joining trees, distances among the estimated trees, Bayesian skyline plots, and phylogenetic informativeness profiles. The different mtDNA data sets have different amounts of information to reconstruct demographic events and phylogenetic trees with confidence. Whereas HVRI is not suitable for phylogenetic reconstruction of ancient clades, this region, as well as the Control data set, displays information for the demographic reconstruction during the Holocene period, probably because of the high rate of mutation of these regions. As expected, the Complete mtDNA and Coding data sets, displaying slower rates of mutation, present suitable information to estimate the founding subhaplogroups that populated South America and for the reconstruction of ancient demographic events. Our results point out the importance of evaluating the utility of different DNA regions to respond to different questions and problems in the human population studies, mainly considering the time scale of the phenomenon and the informativeness of the molecular region in a particular geographical area.

© 2018 Wayne State University Press, Detroit, Michigan 48201
María Bárbara Postillone and S. Ivan Perez "Mitochondrial-DNA Phylogenetic Information and the Reconstruction of Human Population History: The South American Case," Human Biology 89(3), 229-250, (1 July 2017).
Received: 17 July 2017; Accepted: 1 February 2018; Published: 1 July 2017
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