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Gene. 2017 Dec 30;637:33-40. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2017.09.004. Epub 2017 Sep 12.

Taino and African maternal heritage in the Greater Antilles.

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Department of Pediatrics, Nicklaus Children's Hospital Miami, FL, USA.
Area de Antropoloxía, Facultade de Bioloxía, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Campus Sur s/n, 15782 Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
Departamento de Genetica y Antropologia Fisica, Facultad de Ciencia y Tecnologia, Universidad del Pais Vasco (UPV/EHU), Bilbao, Spain.
Department of Molecular Biology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, USA. Electronic address:
Department of Molecular Biology, Colorado College, Colorado Springs, CO 80903, USA.


Notwithstanding the general interest and the geopolitical importance of the island countries in the Greater Antilles, little is known about the specific ancestral Native American and African populations that settled them. In an effort to alleviate this lacuna of information on the genetic constituents of the Greater Antilles, we comprehensively compared the mtDNA compositions of Cuba, Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jamaica and Puerto Rico. To accomplish this, the mtDNA HVRI and HVRII regions, as well as coding diagnostic sites, were assessed in the Haitian general population and compared to data from reference populations. The Taino maternal DNA is prominent in the ex-Spanish colonies (61.3%-22.0%) while it is basically non-existent in the ex-French and ex-English colonies of Haiti (0.0%) and Jamaica (0.5%), respectively. The most abundant Native American mtDNA haplogroups in the Greater Antilles are A2, B2 and C1. The African mtDNA component is almost fixed in Haiti (98.2%) and Jamaica (98.5%), and the frequencies of specific African haplogroups vary considerably among the five island nations. The strong persistence of Taino mtDNA in the ex-Spanish colonies (and especially in Puerto Rico), and its absence in the French and English excolonies is likely the result of different social norms regarding mixed marriages with Taino women during the early years after the first contact with Europeans. In addition, this article reports on the results of an integrative approach based on mtDNA analysis and demographic data that tests the hypothesis of a southward shift in raiding zones along the African west coast during the period encompassing the Transatlantic Slave Trade.


Africa; Taino; Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade; mtDNA

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