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Experts analyze the Mexican genetic map

Experts analyze the Mexican genetic map

Posted by Alejandra Romo on July 07, 2014

History is written in our genes. Since the launching of the human genome project, there are new ways of peeking into our cultural diversity and of understanding how our body works and reacts. 

The National Institute of Genomic Medicine (INMEGEN), Stanford University, the University of California in San Francisco, the University of Guadalajara, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and the National Institute of Medical Sciences and Nutrition Salvador Zubirán, among others, collaborated on an analysis of the genetic structure of the Mexican mestizo and indigenous populations that was recently published. 

This genetic map, that took five years to be completed, constitutes a reference for both, anthropological and epidemiological studies. 

Juan Carlos Fernández, one of the authors of the study and researcher at INMEGEN's Department of Computational Genomics, says that mestizos with a larger European component generally live in the northern part of the country, in places like Sonora, while mestizos with a preponderant Native American component live in the Southeast and center of the country. 

The study also revealed that Oaxaca has one of the mestizo groups that retains more genetic information of the region's ethnic groups and has a lower European component. 

"We know that the most abundant Native Americans in the southeast of the country are the Maya, the largest indigenous group in Mesoamerica that has a very important impact on the mestizos of the region, not only in Yucatán but also in Campeche and Chiapas," the expert said.

Fernández added that in the central part of the country, inhabitants from Guanajuato or Zacatecas have a clear proximity to indigenous groups such as the Zapotec, the Mixtec and the Nahua, and that some indigenous groups have remained isolated, such as the Seris and the Lacandon, that live in the north and south of the country respectively. 

"The results of this research will eventually help to improve health care, as we will be able to identify the most frequent or common genetic variables in the different regions of the country that could be associated with certain types of disease," Fernández concluded.

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