December 27, 2004

Y chromosomes of Azores Islands

Ann Hum Genet (Online Early)

The Y-chromosomal Heritage of the Azores Islands Population

P. R. Pacheco et al.

The Azores, a Portuguese archipelago located in the north Atlantic Ocean, had no native population when the Portuguese first arrived in the 15th century. The islands were populated mainly by the Portuguese, but Jews, Moorish prisoners, African slaves, Flemish, French and Spaniards also contributed to the initial settlement. To understand the paternal origins and diversity of the extant Azorean population, we typed genomic DNA samples from 172 individuals using a combination of 10 Y-biallelic markers (YAP, SRY-1532, SRY-2627, 92R7, M9, sY81, Tat, SRY-8299, 12f2 and LLY22g) and the following Y-chromosomal STR systems: DYS389I, DYS389II, DYS390, DYS391, DYS392, DYS393 and DYS385. We identified nine different haplogroups, most of which are frequent in Europe. Haplogroup J* is the second most frequent in the Azores (13.4%), but it is modestly represented in mainland Portugal (6.8%). The other non-European haplogroups, N3 and E3a, which are prevalent in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, respectively, have been found in the Azores (0.6% and 1.2%, respectively) but not in mainland Portugal. Microsatellite data indicate that the mean gene diversity (D) value for all the loci analysed in our sample set is 0.590, while haplotype diversity is 0.9994. Taken together, our analysis suggests that the current paternal pool of the Azorean population is, to a great extent, of Portuguese descent with significant contributions from people with other genetic backgrounds.


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