The genetic history of the Southern Andes from present-day Mapuche ancestry

Arango-Isaza, Epifanía; Capodiferro, Marco Rosario; Aninao, María José; Babiker, Hiba; Aeschbacher, Simon; Achilli, Alessandro; Posth, Cosimo; Campbell, Roberto; Martínez, Felipe I.; Heggarty, Paul; Sadowsky, Scott; Shimizu, Kentaro K.; Barbieri, Chiara


The southernmost regions of South America harbor some of the earliest evidence of human presence in the Americas. However, connections with the rest of the continent and the contextualization of present-day indigenous ancestries remain poorly resolved. In this study, we analyze the genetic ancestry of one of the largest indigenous groups in South America: the Mapuche. We generate genome-wide data from 64 participants from three Mapuche populations in Southern Chile: Pehuenche, Lafkenche, and Huilliche. Broadly, we describe three main ancestry blocks with a common origin, which characterize the Southern Cone, the Central Andes, and Amazonia. Within the Southern Cone, ancestors of the Mapuche lineages differentiated from those of the Far South during the Middle Holocene and did not experience further migration waves from the north. We find that the deep genetic split between the Central and Southern Andes is followed by instances of gene flow, which may have accompanied the southward spread of cultural traits from the Central Andes, including crops and loanwords from Quechua into Mapudungun (the language of the Mapuche). Finally, we report close genetic relatedness between the three populations analyzed, with the Huilliche characterized additionally by intense recent exchanges with the Far South. Our findings add new perspectives on the genetic (pre)history of South America, from the first settlement through to the present-day indigenous presence. Follow-up fieldwork took these results back to the indigenous communities to contextualize the genetic narrative alongside indigenous knowledge and perspectives.

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Título de la Revista: CURRENT BIOLOGY
Volumen: 33
Editorial: Cell Press
Fecha de publicación: 2023
Página de inicio: 1
Página final: 14
Idioma: Inglés