Charting the Y-chromosome ancestry of present-day Argentinean Mennonites

J Hum Genet. 2016 Jun;61(6):507-13. doi: 10.1038/jhg.2016.3. Epub 2016 Feb 4.


Old Order Mennonite communities initially arose in Northern Europe (centered in the Netherlands) and derived from the Anabaptist movement of the 16th century. Mennonites migrated to the New World in the early 18th century, first to North America, and more recently to Mesoamerica and South America. We analyzed Y-chromosome short tandem repeats (STRs) and single nucleotide polymorphisms in males from a community of Mennonites, 'La Nueva Esperanza', which arrived to Argentina in 1985 from colonies in Bolivia and Mexico. Molecular diversity indices coupled with demographic simulations show that Mennonites have a reduced variability when compared with local Argentinean populations and 69 European population samples. Mennonite Y-STR haplotypes were mainly observed in Central Europe. In agreement, multidimensional scaling analyses based on RST genetic distances indicate that Mennonite Y-chromosomes are closely related to Central/Northern Europeans (the Netherlands, Switzerland and Denmark). In addition, statistical inferences made on the most likely geographic origin of Y-chromosome haplotypes point more specifically to the Netherlands as the populations that best represent the majority of the Mennonite Y-chromosomes. Overall, Y-chromosome variation of Mennonites shows the signatures of moderate reduction of variability when compared with source populations, which is in good agreement with their lifestyle in small endogamous demes. These genetic singularities could also help to understand disease conditions that are more prevalent among Mennonites.

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Argentina
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y*
  • Databases, Genetic
  • Ethnicity / genetics
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Haplotypes
  • Human Migration
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats*
  • Phylogeny
  • Phylogeography
  • Racial Groups / genetics