Ecuadorians originated from a complex mixture of Native American indigenous people with Europeans and Africans. We analyzed Y-chromosome STRs (Y-STRs) in a sample of 415 Ecuadorians (145 using the AmpFlSTR® Yfiler™ system [Life Technologies, USA] and 270 using the PowerPlex®Y23 system [Promega Corp., USA]; hereafter Yfiler and PPY23, respectively) representing three main ecological continental regions of the country, namely Amazon rainforest, Andes, and Pacific coast. Diversity values are high in the three regions, and the PPY23 exhibits higher discrimination power than the Yfiler set. While summary statistics, AMOVA, and RST distances show low to moderate levels of population stratification, inferred ancestry derived from Y-STRs reveal clear patterns of geographic variation. The major ancestry in Ecuadorian males is European (61%), followed by an important Native American component (34%); whereas the African ancestry (5%) is mainly concentrated in the Northwest corner of the country. We conclude that classical procedures for measuring population stratification do not have the desirable sensitivity. Statistical inference of ancestry from Y-STRS is a satisfactory alternative for revealing patterns of spatial variation that would pass unnoticed when using popular statistical summary indices.
Keywords: Ancestry; Ecuador; Population-stratification; Y-chromosome.
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