Founder mitochondrial haplotypes in Amerindian populations

Am J Hum Genet. 1994 Jul;55(1):27-33.


It had been proposed that the colonization of the New World took place by three successive migrations from northeastern Asia. The first one gave rise to Amerindians (Paleo-Indians), the second and third ones to Nadene and Aleut-Eskimo, respectively. Variation in mtDNA has been used to infer the demographic structure of the Amerindian ancestors. The study of RFLP all along the mtDNA and the analysis of nucleotide substitutions in the D-loop region of the mitochondrial genome apparently indicate that most or all full-blooded Amerindians cluster in one of four different mitochondrial haplotypes that are considered to represent the founder maternal lineages of Paleo-Indians. We have studied the mtDNA diversity in 109 Amerindians belonging to 3 different tribes, and we have reanalyzed the published data on 482 individuals from 18 other tribes. Our study confirms the existence of four major Amerindian haplotypes. However, we also found evidence supporting the existence of several other potential founder haplotypes or haplotype subsets in addition to the four ancestral lineages reported. Confirmation of a relatively high number of founder haplotypes would indicate that early migration into America was not accompanied by a severe genetic bottleneck.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Americas
  • Asia
  • Asians / genetics*
  • Base Sequence
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial / genetics*
  • Gene Frequency
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Population*
  • Haplotypes*
  • Humans
  • Indians, Central American / genetics
  • Indians, North American / genetics
  • Indians, South American / genetics*
  • Inuits / genetics
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Point Mutation
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • South America


  • DNA Primers
  • DNA, Mitochondrial