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1.  Admixture in Latin America: Geographic Structure, Phenotypic Diversity and Self-Perception of Ancestry Based on 7,342 Individuals 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(9):e1004572.
The current genetic makeup of Latin America has been shaped by a history of extensive admixture between Africans, Europeans and Native Americans, a process taking place within the context of extensive geographic and social stratification. We estimated individual ancestry proportions in a sample of 7,342 subjects ascertained in five countries (Brazil, Chile, Colombia, México and Perú). These individuals were also characterized for a range of physical appearance traits and for self-perception of ancestry. The geographic distribution of admixture proportions in this sample reveals extensive population structure, illustrating the continuing impact of demographic history on the genetic diversity of Latin America. Significant ancestry effects were detected for most phenotypes studied. However, ancestry generally explains only a modest proportion of total phenotypic variation. Genetically estimated and self-perceived ancestry correlate significantly, but certain physical attributes have a strong impact on self-perception and bias self-perception of ancestry relative to genetically estimated ancestry.
Author Summary
Latin America has a history of extensive mixing between Native Americans and people arriving from Europe and Africa. As a result, individuals in the region have a highly heterogeneous genetic background and show great variation in physical appearance. Latin America offers an excellent opportunity to examine the genetic basis of the differentiation in physical appearance between Africans, Europeans and Native Americans. The region is also an advantageous setting in which to examine the interplay of genetic, physical and social factors in relation to ethnic/racial self-perception. Here we present the most extensive analysis of genetic ancestry, physical diversity and self-perception of ancestry yet conducted in Latin America. We find significant geographic variation in ancestry across the region, this variation being consistent with demographic history and census information. We show that genetic ancestry impacts many aspects of physical appearance. We observe that self-perception is highly influenced by physical appearance, and that variation in physical appearance biases self-perception of ancestry relative to genetically estimated ancestry.
PMCID: PMC4177621  PMID: 25254375
2.  Reconstructing Native American Population History 
Nature  2012;488(7411):370-374.
The peopling of the Americas has been the subject of extensive genetic, archaeological and linguistic research; however, central questions remain unresolved1–5. One contentious issue is whether the settlement occurred via a single6–8 or multiple streams of migration from Siberia9–15. The pattern of dispersals within the Americas is also poorly understood. To address these questions at higher resolution than was previously possible, we assembled data from 52 Native American and 17 Siberian groups genotyped at 364,470 single nucleotide polymorphisms. We show that Native Americans descend from at least three streams of Asian gene flow. Most descend entirely from a single ancestral population that we call “First American”. However, speakers of Eskimo-Aleut languages from the Arctic inherit almost half their ancestry from a second stream of Asian gene flow, and the Na-Dene-speaking Chipewyan from Canada inherit roughly one-tenth of their ancestry from a third stream. We show that the initial peopling followed a southward expansion facilitated by the coast, with sequential population splits and little gene flow after divergence, especially in South America. A major exception is in Chibchan-speakers on both sides of the Panama Isthmus, who have ancestry from both North and South America.
PMCID: PMC3615710  PMID: 22801491
3.  AccessMod 3.0: computing geographic coverage and accessibility to health care services using anisotropic movement of patients 
Access to health care can be described along four dimensions: geographic accessibility, availability, financial accessibility and acceptability. Geographic accessibility measures how physically accessible resources are for the population, while availability reflects what resources are available and in what amount. Combining these two types of measure into a single index provides a measure of geographic (or spatial) coverage, which is an important measure for assessing the degree of accessibility of a health care network.
This paper describes the latest version of AccessMod, an extension to the Geographical Information System ArcView 3.×, and provides an example of application of this tool. AccessMod 3 allows one to compute geographic coverage to health care using terrain information and population distribution. Four major types of analysis are available in AccessMod: (1) modeling the coverage of catchment areas linked to an existing health facility network based on travel time, to provide a measure of physical accessibility to health care; (2) modeling geographic coverage according to the availability of services; (3) projecting the coverage of a scaling-up of an existing network; (4) providing information for cost effectiveness analysis when little information about the existing network is available. In addition to integrating travelling time, population distribution and the population coverage capacity specific to each health facility in the network, AccessMod can incorporate the influence of landscape components (e.g. topography, river and road networks, vegetation) that impact travelling time to and from facilities. Topographical constraints can be taken into account through an anisotropic analysis that considers the direction of movement. We provide an example of the application of AccessMod in the southern part of Malawi that shows the influences of the landscape constraints and of the modes of transportation on geographic coverage.
By incorporating the demand (population) and the supply (capacities of heath care centers), AccessMod provides a unifying tool to efficiently assess the geographic coverage of a network of health care facilities. This tool should be of particular interest to developing countries that have a relatively good geographic information on population distribution, terrain, and health facility locations.
PMCID: PMC2651127  PMID: 19087277
4.  Geographic Patterns of Genome Admixture in Latin American Mestizos 
PLoS Genetics  2008;4(3):e1000037.
The large and diverse population of Latin America is potentially a powerful resource for elucidating the genetic basis of complex traits through admixture mapping. However, no genome-wide characterization of admixture across Latin America has yet been attempted. Here, we report an analysis of admixture in thirteen Mestizo populations (i.e. in regions of mainly European and Native settlement) from seven countries in Latin America based on data for 678 autosomal and 29 X-chromosome microsatellites. We found extensive variation in Native American and European ancestry (and generally low levels of African ancestry) among populations and individuals, and evidence that admixture across Latin America has often involved predominantly European men and both Native and African women. An admixture analysis allowing for Native American population subdivision revealed a differentiation of the Native American ancestry amongst Mestizos. This observation is consistent with the genetic structure of pre-Columbian populations and with admixture having involved Natives from the area where the Mestizo examined are located. Our findings agree with available information on the demographic history of Latin America and have a number of implications for the design of association studies in population from the region.
Author Summary
The history of Latin America has entailed a complex process of population mixture between Native and recent immigrants across a vast geographic region. Few details are known about this process or about how it has shaped the genetic makeup of contemporary Latin American populations. To perform a broad exploration of the genetic diversity of Latin America we carried out genome-wide analyses in 13 mestizo populations sampled from 7 countries across the region. We observe a marked variation in ancestry both within and between mestizo populations. This variation in ancestry correlates with pre-Columbian Native population density in the areas examined and with recent patterns of demographic growth of the sites sampled. We also find evidence that the mixture at the origin of these populations involved mainly immigrant European men and Native and African women. Finally, mestizo populations show a differentiated Amerindian genetic background, consistent with a predominantly local Native ancestry. Mestizos thus still reveal the genetic imprint of the pre-Columbian Native American population diversification. Our study helps delineate the genetic landscape of Latin America and has a number of implications for gene identification analyses in populations from the region.
PMCID: PMC2265669  PMID: 18369456
5.  Genetic Variation and Population Structure in Native Americans 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(11):e185.
We examined genetic diversity and population structure in the American landmass using 678 autosomal microsatellite markers genotyped in 422 individuals representing 24 Native American populations sampled from North, Central, and South America. These data were analyzed jointly with similar data available in 54 other indigenous populations worldwide, including an additional five Native American groups. The Native American populations have lower genetic diversity and greater differentiation than populations from other continental regions. We observe gradients both of decreasing genetic diversity as a function of geographic distance from the Bering Strait and of decreasing genetic similarity to Siberians—signals of the southward dispersal of human populations from the northwestern tip of the Americas. We also observe evidence of: (1) a higher level of diversity and lower level of population structure in western South America compared to eastern South America, (2) a relative lack of differentiation between Mesoamerican and Andean populations, (3) a scenario in which coastal routes were easier for migrating peoples to traverse in comparison with inland routes, and (4) a partial agreement on a local scale between genetic similarity and the linguistic classification of populations. These findings offer new insights into the process of population dispersal and differentiation during the peopling of the Americas.
Author Summary
Studies of genetic variation have the potential to provide information about the initial peopling of the Americas and the more recent history of Native American populations. To investigate genetic diversity and population relationships in the Americas, we analyzed genetic variation at 678 genome-wide markers genotyped in 29 Native American populations. Comparing Native Americans to Siberian populations, both genetic diversity and similarity to Siberians decrease with geographic distance from the Bering Strait. The widespread distribution of a particular allele private to the Americas supports a view that much of Native American genetic ancestry may derive from a single wave of migration. The pattern of genetic diversity across populations suggests that coastal routes might have been important during ancient migrations of Native American populations. These and other observations from our study will be useful alongside archaeological, geological, and linguistic data for piecing together a more detailed description of the settlement history of the Americas.
PMCID: PMC2082466  PMID: 18039031
6.  Rise of oceanographic barriers in continuous populations of a cetacean: the genetic structure of harbour porpoises in Old World waters 
BMC Biology  2007;5:30.
Understanding the role of seascape in shaping genetic and demographic population structure is highly challenging for marine pelagic species such as cetaceans for which there is generally little evidence of what could effectively restrict their dispersal. In the present work, we applied a combination of recent individual-based landscape genetic approaches to investigate the population genetic structure of a highly mobile extensive range cetacean, the harbour porpoise in the eastern North Atlantic, with regards to oceanographic characteristics that could constrain its dispersal.
Analyses of 10 microsatellite loci for 752 individuals revealed that most of the sampled range in the eastern North Atlantic behaves as a 'continuous' population that widely extends over thousands of kilometres with significant isolation by distance (IBD). However, strong barriers to gene flow were detected in the south-eastern part of the range. These barriers coincided with profound changes in environmental characteristics and isolated, on a relatively small scale, porpoises from Iberian waters and on a larger scale porpoises from the Black Sea.
The presence of these barriers to gene flow that coincide with profound changes in oceanographic features, together with the spatial variation in IBD strength, provide for the first time strong evidence that physical processes have a major impact on the demographic and genetic structure of a cetacean. This genetic pattern further suggests habitat-related fragmentation of the porpoise range that is likely to intensify with predicted surface ocean warming.
PMCID: PMC1971045  PMID: 17651495

Results 1-6 (6)