Dramatic founder effects in Amerindian mitochondrial DNAs

Am J Phys Anthropol. 1985 Oct;68(2):149-55. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.1330680202.


Southwestern American Indian (Amerindian) mitochondrial DNAs (mtDNAs) were analyzed with restriction endonucleases and found to contain Asian restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) but at frequencies very different from those found in Asia. One rare Asian HincII RFLP was found in 40% of the Amerindians. Several mtDNAs were discovered which have not yet been observed on other continents and different tribes were found to have distinctive mtDNAs. Since the mtDNA is inherited exclusively through the maternal lineage, these results suggest that Amerindian tribes were founded by small numbers of female lineages and that new mutations have been fixed in these lineages since their separation from Asia.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Asia
  • Blood Platelets / analysis
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / blood
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Gene Frequency
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • United States


  • DNA, Mitochondrial
  • DNA Restriction Enzymes