A minimum set of ancestry informative markers for determining admixture proportions in a mixed American population: the Brazilian set

Eur J Hum Genet. 2016 May;24(5):725-31. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.187. Epub 2015 Sep 23.


The Brazilian population is considered to be highly admixed. The main contributing ancestral populations were European and African, with Amerindians contributing to a lesser extent. The aims of this study were to provide a resource for determining and quantifying individual continental ancestry using the smallest number of SNPs possible, thus allowing for a cost- and time-efficient strategy for genomic ancestry determination. We identified and validated a minimum set of 192 ancestry informative markers (AIMs) for the genetic ancestry determination of Brazilian populations. These markers were selected on the basis of their distribution throughout the human genome, and their capacity of being genotyped on widely available commercial platforms. We analyzed genotyping data from 6487 individuals belonging to three Brazilian cohorts. Estimates of individual admixture using this 192 AIM panels were highly correlated with estimates using ~370 000 genome-wide SNPs: 91%, 92%, and 74% of, respectively, African, European, and Native American ancestry components. Besides that, 192 AIMs are well distributed among populations from these ancestral continents, allowing greater freedom in future studies with this panel regarding the choice of reference populations. We also observed that genetic ancestry inferred by AIMs provides similar association results to the one obtained using ancestry inferred by genomic data (370 K SNPs) in a simple regression model with rs1426654, related to skin pigmentation, genotypes as dependent variable. In conclusion, these markers can be used to identify and accurately quantify ancestry of Latin Americans or US Hispanics/Latino individuals, in particular in the context of fine-mapping strategies that require the quantification of continental ancestry in thousands of individuals.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • American Native Continental Ancestry Group
  • Blacks
  • Brazil
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • Pedigree
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide*
  • Population / genetics*
  • Skin Pigmentation / genetics
  • Whites


  • Genetic Markers