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1.  The Genetic History of Indigenous Populations of the Peruvian and Bolivian Altiplano: The Legacy of the Uros 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e73006.
The Altiplano region of the South American Andes is marked by an inhospitable climate to which the autochthonous human populations adapted and then developed great ancient civilizations, such as the Tiwanaku culture and the Inca Empire. Since pre-Columbian times, different rulers established themselves around the Titicaca and Poopo Lakes. By the time of the arrival of Spaniards, Aymara and Quechua languages were predominant on the Altiplano under the rule of the Incas, although the occurrence of other spoken languages, such as Puquina and Uruquilla, suggests the existence of different ethnic groups in this region. In this study, we focused on the pre-Columbian history of the autochthonous Altiplano populations, particularly the Uros ethnic group, which claims to directly descend from the first settlers of the Andes, and some linguists suggest they might otherwise be related to Arawak speaking groups from the Amazon. Using phylogeographic, population structure and spatial genetic analyses of Y-chromosome and mtDNA data, we inferred the genetic relationships among Uros populations (Los Uros from Peru, Uru-Chipaya and Uru-Poopo from Bolivia), and compared their haplotype profiles with eight Aymara, nine Quechua and two Arawak (Machiguenga and Yanesha) speaking populations from Peru and Bolivia. Our results indicated that Uros populations stand out among the Altiplano populations, while appearing more closely related to the Aymara and Quechua from Lake Titicaca and surrounding regions than to the Amazon Arawaks. Moreover, the Uros populations from Peru and Bolivia are genetically differentiated from each other, indicating a high heterogeneity in this ethnic group. Finally, our results support the distinctive ancestry for the Uros populations of Peru and Bolivia, which are likely derived from ancient Andean lineages that were partially replaced during more recent farming expansion events and the establishment of complex civilizations in the Andes.
PMCID: PMC3770642  PMID: 24039843
2.  Chromobacterium Sp. From The Tropics: Detection And Diversity Of Phytase Activity 
Phytases are a group of enzymes that catalyze phytic acid hydrolysis with release of phosphorus (P). The ability of Chromobacterium sp. to produce phytase was detected in 115 out of 118 candidate bacteria isolated from different Brazilian biomas. This is the first report revealing the genus Chromobacterium as phytase producer.
PMCID: PMC3768951  PMID: 24031608
Chromobacterium sp.; diversity; phytase; phytate; tropical bacteria
3.  DNA barcoding of Brazilian sea turtles (Testudines) 
Genetics and Molecular Biology  2009;32(3):608-612.
Five out of the seven recognized species of sea turtles (Testudines) occur on the Brazilian coast. The Barcode Initiative is an effort to undertake a molecular inventory of Earth biodiversity. Cytochrome Oxidase c subunit I (COI) molecular tags for sea turtle species have not yet been described. In this study, COI sequences for the five species of sea turtles that occur in Brazil were generated. These presented widely divergent haplotypes. All observed values were on the same range as those already described for other animal groups: the overall mean distance was 8.2%, the mean distance between families (Dermochelyidae and Cheloniidae) 11.7%, the mean intraspecific divergence 0.34%, and the mean distance within Cheloniidae 6.4%, this being 19-fold higher than the mean divergence observed within species. We obtained species-specific COI barcode tags that can be used for identifying each of the marine turtle species studied.
PMCID: PMC3036055  PMID: 21637526
barcodes; sea turtles; Cytochrome Oxidase c subunit I (COI)
4.  Analysis of Chromobacterium sp. natural isolates from different Brazilian ecosystems 
BMC Microbiology  2007;7:58.
Chromobacterium violaceum is a free-living bacterium able to survive under diverse environmental conditions. In this study we evaluate the genetic and physiological diversity of Chromobacterium sp. isolates from three Brazilian ecosystems: Brazilian Savannah (Cerrado), Atlantic Rain Forest and Amazon Rain Forest. We have analyzed the diversity with molecular approaches (16S rRNA gene sequences and amplified ribosomal DNA restriction analysis) and phenotypic surveys of antibiotic resistance and biochemistry profiles.
In general, the clusters based on physiological profiles included isolates from two or more geographical locations indicating that they are not restricted to a single ecosystem. The isolates from Brazilian Savannah presented greater physiologic diversity and their biochemical profile was the most variable of all groupings. The isolates recovered from Amazon and Atlantic Rain Forests presented the most similar biochemical characteristics to the Chromobacterium violaceum ATCC 12472 strain. Clusters based on biochemical profiles were congruent with clusters obtained by the 16S rRNA gene tree. According to the phylogenetic analyses, isolates from the Amazon Rain Forest and Savannah displayed a closer relationship to the Chromobacterium violaceum ATCC 12472. Furthermore, 16S rRNA gene tree revealed a good correlation between phylogenetic clustering and geographic origin.
The physiological analyses clearly demonstrate the high biochemical versatility found in the C. violaceum genome and molecular methods allowed to detect the intra and inter-population diversity of isolates from three Brazilian ecosystems.
PMCID: PMC1913517  PMID: 17584942
5.  Exploring the Diversity and Distribution of Neotropical Avian Malaria Parasites – A Molecular Survey from Southeast Brazil 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(3):e57770.
Southeast Brazil is a neotropical region composed of a mosaic of different tropical habitats and mountain chains, which allowed for the formation of bird-rich communities with distinct ecological niches. Although this region has the potential to harbor a remarkable variety of avian parasites, there is a lack of information about the diversity of malarial parasites. We used molecular approaches to characterize the lineage diversity of Plasmodium and Haemoproteus in bird communities from three different habitats in southeast Brazil based on the prevalence, richness and composition of lineages. We observed an overall prevalence of 35.3%, with a local prevalence ranging from 17.2% to 54.8%. Moreover, no significant association between prevalence and habitat type could be verified (p>0.05). We identified 89 Plasmodium and 22 Haemoproteus lineages, with 86% of them described for the first time here, including an unusual infection of a non-columbiform host by a Haemoproteus (Haemoproteus) parasite. The composition analyses of the parasite communities showed that the lineage composition from Brazilian savannah and tropical dry forest was similar, but it was different from the lineage composition of Atlantic rainforest, reflecting the greater likeness of the former habitats with respect to seasonality and forest density. No significant effects of habitat type on lineage richness were observed based on GLM analyses. We also found that sites whose samples had a greater diversity of bird species showed a greater diversity of parasite lineages, providing evidence that areas with high bird richness also have high parasite richness. Our findings point to the importance of the neotropical region (southeast Brazil) as a major reservoir of new haemosporidian lineages.
PMCID: PMC3585926  PMID: 23469235
6.  Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins 
Nature Communications  2014;5:3513.
The search for a method that utilizes biological information to predict humans’ place of origin has occupied scientists for millennia. Over the past four decades, scientists have employed genetic data in an effort to achieve this goal but with limited success. While biogeographical algorithms using next-generation sequencing data have achieved an accuracy of 700 km in Europe, they were inaccurate elsewhere. Here we describe the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) algorithm and demonstrate its accuracy with three data sets using 40,000–130,000 SNPs. GPS placed 83% of worldwide individuals in their country of origin. Applied to over 200 Sardinians villagers, GPS placed a quarter of them in their villages and most of the rest within 50 km of their villages. GPS’s accuracy and power to infer the biogeography of worldwide individuals down to their country or, in some cases, village, of origin, underscores the promise of admixture-based methods for biogeography and has ramifications for genetic ancestry testing.
Current methods to identify the geographical origin of humans based on DNA data present limited accuracy. Here, the authors develop a new algorithm, the Genographic Population Structure (GPS), and demonstrate its ability to place worldwide individuals within their country or, in some cases, village of origin.
PMCID: PMC4007635  PMID: 24781250

Results 1-6 (6)