Demography, genetic diversity, and population relationships among Argentinean Mapuche Indians

Alicia S. Goicoechea Francisco R. Carnese Alicia L. Caratini Sergio Avena Maria Salaberry Francisco M. Salzano About the authors

Fertility, mortality and migration data from four Mapuche Indian communities located along a 215-km NE-SW linear area in the Province of Río Negro, Argentina, were collated with genetic information furnished by nine blood group systems and by mtDNA haplogroups. The demographic and genetic data indicated a clear dichotomy, which split the four populations into two groups of two. Differing degrees of non-Indian exchanges was probably the main determining factor for this separation. Total genetic variability was very similar in all groups, and the interpopulational variability accounted for only 10% of the total variability. A low prevalence of the Diego(a) antigen among the Mapuche was confirmed. The fact that significant genetic heterogeneity and population clusters were found in such a small territorial region attests to the sensitivity of demographic and genetic approaches in unraveling human history.

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