Asymmetric Male and Female Genetic Histories among Native Americans from Eastern North America

Bolnick et al. 2006


Previous studies have investigated the human population history of eastern North America by examining mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation among Native Americans, but these studies could only reconstruct maternal population history. To evaluate similarities and differences in the maternal and paternal population histories of this region, we obtained DNA samples from 605 individuals, representing 16 indigenous populations. After amplifying the amelogenin locus to identify males, we genotyped 8 binary polymorphisms and 10 microsatellites in the male-specific region of the Y chromosome. This analysis identified 6 haplogroups and 175 haplotypes. We found that sociocultural factors have played a more important role than language or geography in shaping the patterns of Y chromosome variation in eastern North America. Comparisons with previous mtDNA studies of the same samples demonstrate that male and female demographic histories differ substantially in this region. Postmarital residence patterns have strongly influenced genetic structure, with patrilocal and matrilocal populations showing different patterns of male and female gene flow. European contact also had a significant but sex-specific impact due to a high level of male-mediated European admixture. Finally, this study addresses long-standing questions about the history of Iroquoian populations by suggesting that the ancestral Iroquoian population lived in southeastern North America.