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Brazilian Journal of Medical and Biological Research

On-line version ISSN 1414-431X

Abstract

PENA, S.D.J.; BASTOS-RODRIGUES, L.; PIMENTA, J.R.  and  BYDLOWSKI, S.P.. DNA tests probe the genomic ancestry of Brazilians. Braz J Med Biol Res [online]. 2009, vol.42, n.10, pp. 870-876.  Epub Sep 11, 2009. ISSN 1414-431X.  http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0100-879X2009005000026.

We review studies from our laboratories using different molecular tools to characterize the ancestry of Brazilians in reference to their Amerindian, European and African roots. Initially we used uniparental DNA markers to investigate the contribution of distinct Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA lineages to present-day populations. High levels of genetic admixture and strong directional mating between European males and Amerindian and African females were unraveled. We next analyzed different types of biparental autosomal polymorphisms. Especially useful was a set of 40 insertion-deletion polymorphisms (indels) that when studied worldwide proved exquisitely sensitive in discriminating between Amerindians, Europeans and Sub-Saharan Africans. When applied to the study of Brazilians these markers confirmed extensive genomic admixture, but also demonstrated a strong imprint of the massive European immigration wave in the 19th and 20th centuries. The high individual ancestral variability observed suggests that each Brazilian has a singular proportion of Amerindian, European and African ancestries in his mosaic genome. In Brazil, one cannot predict the color of persons from their genomic ancestry nor the opposite. Brazilians should be assessed on a personal basis, as 190 million human beings, and not as members of color groups.

Keywords : DNA tests; Insertion-deletion polymorphisms; Ancestry; Human diversity; Brazilians.

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