Mitochondrial DNA polymorphisms in Chilean aboriginal populations: implications for the peopling of the southern cone of the continent

Am J Phys Anthropol. 2000 Sep;113(1):19-29. doi: 10.1002/1096-8644(200009)113:1<19::AID-AJPA3>3.0.CO;2-X.


The mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) from individuals belonging to three Chilean tribes, the Mapuche, the Pehuenche, and the Yaghan, were studied both by RFLP analysis and D-loop (control region) sequencing. RFLP analysis showed that 3 individuals (1.3%) belonged to haplogroup A, 19 (8%) to haplogroup B, 102 (43%) to haplogroup C, and 113 (47.7%) to haplogroup D. Among the 73 individuals analyzed by D-loop sequencing, we observed 37 different haplotypes defined by 52 polymorphic sites. Joint analysis of data obtained by RFLP and sequencing methods demonstrated that, regardless of the method of analysis, the mtDNA haplotypes of these three contemporary South American aborigine groups clustered into four main haplogroups, in a way similar to those previously described for other Amerindians. These results further revealed the absence of haplogroup A in both the Mapuche and Yaghan as well as the absence of haplogroup B in the Yaghan. These results suggest that the people of Tierra del Fuego are related to tribes from south-central South America.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Chile
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / chemistry*
  • Humans
  • Indians, South American / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA


  • DNA, Mitochondrial