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Ann Hum Genet. 1997 Jan;61(Pt 1):37-47.

Assessment of genetic diversity in space by superimposition of a distorted geographic map with a spatial population clustering. Application to GM haplotypes of native Amerindian tribes.

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Centre de Bioinformatique, INSERM U155, Université Denis Diderot, Paris, France.


The GM immunoglobulin (Ig) allotype distributions of 49 native Amerindian populations from North to South America were analysed by a new technique called 'Mobile Sites Method' (MSM). This allows the global interpretation of genetic diversity in space by means of a distorted geographic map called a 'genetic similarity map'. This approach has been improved by superimposing in the distorted geographic map both the haplotype set (represented by hypothetical populations having a 100% frequency of the haplotype considered) and the 'geography-genetics discontinuities' (i.e. the zones between homogeneous population clusters). This bidimensional representation completes the interpretation of the genetic distances between populations in terms of local genetic diversity and possible migrations. Our results concerning the spatial distribution of the Amerindian populations show: (i) a great interdependence of the geographic locations and the GM haplotype distributions (the importance of the geographic factor was checked with the usual technique of 'random sampling' and the percentage of explained distance variability decreases from 78% with the observed data to a level less than 67% with the random data); (ii) a parallelism between genetics and linguistics groups as indicated by the population clusters in the similarity map, and (iii) a complex distorted map revealing the presence of multiple population migrations and admixtures in the course of time. A particular distortion of South America suggests possible migrations by sea along the western and eastern coasts of Central America, or multiple migration waves without population admixture across Central America.

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