Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ancestors from Gaspé?

Ann Hum Genet. 2011 Mar;75(2):247-54. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2010.00617.x. Epub 2010 Nov 8.

When genetics and genealogies tell different stories-maternal lineages in Gaspesia.

Centre de Recherche, CHU Sainte-Justine, Université de Montréal, Côte Sainte-Catherine, Montréal, Québec, Canada.


Data from uniparentally inherited genetic systems were used to trace evolution of human populations. Reconstruction of the past primarily relies on variation in present-day populations, limiting historical inference to lineages that are found among living subjects. Our analysis of four population groups in the Gaspé Peninsula, demonstrates how this may occasionally lead to erroneous interpretations. Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Gaspesians revealed an important admixture with Native Americans. The most likely scenario links this admixture to French-Canadians from the St. Lawrence Valley who moved to Gaspesia in the 19th century. However, in contrast to genetic data, analysis of genealogical record shows that Native American maternal lineages were brought to Gaspesia in the 18th century by Acadians who settled on the south-western coast of the peninsula. Intriguingly, within three generations, virtually all Métis Acadian families separated from their nonadmixed relatives and moved eastward mixing in with other Gaspesian groups, in which Native American maternal lines are present in relatively high frequencies. Over time, the carriers of these lines eventually lost memory of their mixed Amerindian-Acadian origin. Our results show that a reliable reconstruction of population history requires cross-verification of different data sources for consistency, thus favouring multidisciplinary approaches.

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