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Am J Phys Anthropol. 2014 Dec;155(4):600-9. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.22616. Epub 2014 Sep 17.

Between Andes and Amazon: the genetic profile of the Arawak-speaking Yanesha.

Author information

1
Department of Biological, Geological and Environmental Sciences, University of Bologna, 40126, Bologna, Italy.

Abstract

The Yanesha are a Peruvian population who inhabit an environment transitional between the Andes and Amazonia. They present cultural traits characteristic of both regions, including in the language they speak: Yanesha belongs to the Arawak language family (which very likely originated in the Amazon/Orinoco lowlands), but has been strongly influenced by Quechua, the most widespread language family of the Andes. Given their location and cultural make-up, the Yanesha make for an ideal case study for investigating language and population dynamics across the Andes-Amazonia divide. In this study, we analyze data from high and mid-altitude Yanesha villages, both Y chromosome (17 STRs and 16 SNPs diagnostic for assigning haplogroups) and mtDNA data (control region sequences and 3 SNPs and one INDEL diagnostic for assigning haplogroups). We uncover sex-biased genetic trends that probably arose in different stages: first, a male-biased gene flow from Andean regions, genetically consistent with highland Quechua-speakers and probably dating back to Inca expansion; and second, traces of European contact consistent with Y chromosome lineages from Italy and Tyrol, in line with historically documented migrations. Most research in the history, archaeology and linguistics of South America has long been characterized by perceptions of a sharp divide between the Andes and Amazonia; our results serve as a clear case-study confirming demographic flows across that 'divide'.

KEYWORDS:

STR; South America; Y chromosome; language; mtDNA

PMID:
25229359
DOI:
10.1002/ajpa.22616
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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