BackgroundThe distribution of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) lineages in Brazil is heterogeneous due to different regional colonization dynamics. Northeastern Brazil, although being an important region in terms of human imigration and ethnic admixture, has little information regarding its population mtDNA composition. Here, we determine which mitochondrial lineages contributed to the formation of the Northeastern Brazilian population. Our sample consisted of 767 individuals distributed as follows i) 550 individuals from eight Northeastern states (Piauí, Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Paraíba, Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe, and Bahia) which were sequenced for mtDNA hypervariable segments I, II, and III; ii) 217 individuals from Alagoas and Pernambuco (previously published data). Data analysis was performed through sequence alignment and Haplogrep 2.0 haplogroup assignment tools. Furthermore, maternal ancestry distribution was contextualized and, when possible, related to historical events to better understand the biological interactions and population dynamics that occurred in this region since the beginning of colonization.ResultsUnexpectedly, Amerindian mitochondrial ancestry was the highest in the Northeastern region overall, followed by African, European and non-Amerindian Asian, unlike previous results for this region. Alagoas and Pernambuco states, however, showed a larger African mtDNA frequency. The Northeastern region showed an intraregional heterogeneous distribution regarding ancestral groups, in which states/mesoregions located to the north had a prevalent Amerindian ancestral frequency and those to the south had predominance of African ancestry. Moreover, results showed great diversity of European haplogroups and the presence of non-Amerindian Asian haplogroups.ConclusionsOur findings are in disagreement with previous investigations that suggest African mitochondrial ancestry is the most prevalent in the Brazilian Northeast. The predominance of Amerindian lineages exemplifies the importance of indigenous women in the formation of the population, despite intense African slave entry and conflicts with European settlers. The variable distribution of ancestral groups observed in the Northeast is in accordance with historical records showing the similarities with colonization dynamics occurred in the Amazon region and the Brazilian Southeast. Moreover, the variety of European haplogroups suggests multiple origins of founding groups, specially those found in Western European populations.Electronic supplementary materialThe online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s12862-017-1027-7) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
Background: The current Brazilian population is the product of centuries of admixture between intercontinental founding groups. Although previous results have revealed a heterogeneous distribution of mitochondrial lineages in the Northeast region, the most targeted by foreign settlers during the sixteenth century, little is known about the paternal ancestry of this particular population. Considering historical records have documented a series of territorial invasions in the Northeast by various European populations, we aimed to characterize the male lineages found in Brazilian individuals in order to discover to what extent these migrations have influenced the present-day gene pool. Our approach consisted of employing four hierarchical multiplex assays for the investigation of 45 unique event polymorphisms in the non-recombining portion of the Y-chromosome of 280 unrelated men from several Northeast Brazilian states. Results: Primary multiplex results allowed the identification of six major haplogroups, four of which were screened for downstream SNPs and enabled the observation of 19 additional lineages. Results reveal a majority of Western European haplogroups, among which R1b-S116* was the most common (63.9%), corroborating historical records of colonizations by Iberian populations. Nonetheless, F ST genetic distances show similarities between Northeast Brazil and several other European populations, indicating multiple origins of settlers. Regarding Native American ancestry, our findings confirm a strong sexual bias against such haplogroups, which represented only 2.5% of individuals, highly contrasting previous results for maternal lineages. Furthermore, we document the presence of several Middle Eastern and African haplogroups, supporting a complex historical formation of this population and highlighting its uniqueness among other Brazilian regions. Conclusions: We performed a comprehensive analysis of the major Y-chromosome lineages that form the most dynamic migratory region from the Brazilian colonial period. This evidence suggests that the ongoing entry of European, Middle Eastern, and African males in the Brazilian Northeast, since at least 500 years, was significantly responsible for the present-day genetic architecture of this population.
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