Chocó, Colombia: a hotspot of human biodiversity

Rev Biodivers Neotrop. 2016 Jan-Jun;6(1):45-54. doi: 10.18636/bioneotropical.v6i1.341.


Objective: Chocó is a state located on the Pacific coast of Colombia that has a majority Afro-Colombian population. The objective of this study was to characterize the genetic ancestry, admixture and diversity of the population of Chocó, Colombia.

Methodology: Genetic variation was characterized for a sample of 101 donors (61 female and 40 male) from the state of Chocó. Genotypes were determined for each individual via the characterization of 610,545 single nucleotide polymorphisms genome-wide. Haplotypes for the uniparental mitochondrial DNA (female) and Y-DNA (male) chromosomes were also determined. These data were used for comparative analyses with a number of worldwide populations, including putative ancestral populations from Africa, the Americas and Europe, along with several admixed American populations.

Results: The population of Chocó has predominantly African genetic ancestry (75.8%) with approximately equal parts European (13.4%) and Native American (11.1%) ancestry. Chocó shows relatively high levels of three-way genetic admixture, and far higher levels of Native American ancestry, compared to other New World African populations from the Caribbean and the United States. There is a striking pattern of sex-specific ancestry in Chocó, with Native American admixture along the female lineage and European admixture along the male lineage. The population of Chocó is also characterized by relatively high levels of overall genetic diversity compared to both putative ancestral populations and other admixed American populations.

Conclusion: These results suggest a unique genetic heritage for the population of Chocó and underscore the profound human genetic diversity that can be found in the region.

Keywords: Admixture; Afro-Colombian; Colombia; Genetic ancestry; Genetic diversity; Human genome.