Comparing signals of natural selection between three Indigenous North American populations

Austin W. Reynolds*, Jaime Mata-Míguez, Aida Miró-Herrans, Marcus Briggs-Cloud, Ana Sylestine, Francisco Barajas-Olmos, Humberto Garcia-Ortiz, Margarita Rzhetskaya, Lorena Orozco, Jennifer A. Raff, M. Geoffrey Hayes, Deborah A. Bolnick

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

27 Scopus citations


While many studies have highlighted human adaptations to diverse environments worldwide, genomic studies of natural selection in Indigenous populations in the Americas have been absent from this literature until very recently. Since humans first entered the Americas some 20,000 years ago, they have settled in many new environments across the continent. This diversity of environments has placed variable selective pressures on the populations living in each region, but the effects of these pressures have not been extensively studied to date. To help fill this gap, we collected genome-wide data from three Indigenous North American populations from different geographic regions of the continent (Alaska, southeastern United States, and central Mexico). We identified signals of natural selection in each population and compared signals across populations to explore the differences in selective pressures among the three regions sampled. We find evidence of adaptation to cold and high-latitude environments in Alaska, while in the southeastern United States and central Mexico, pathogenic environments seem to have created important selective pressures. This study lays the foundation for additional functional and phenotypic work on possible adaptations to varied environments during the history of population diversification in the Americas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)9312-9317
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number19
StatePublished - May 7 2019


  • Alaskan Natives
  • Human evolutionary genetics
  • Native Americans
  • Natural selection
  • Population genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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