Sex-biased gene flow in African Americans but not in American Caucasians

V. F. Gonçalves, F. Prosdocimi, L. S. Santos, J. M. Ortega, S. D.J. Pena*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We have previously shown evidence of strong sex-biased genetic blending in the founding and ongoing history of the Brazilian population, with the African and Amerindian contribution being highest from maternal lineages (as measured by mitochondrial DNA) and the European contribution foremost from paternal lineages (estimated from Y-chromosome haplogroups). The same phenomenon has been observed in several other Latin American countries, suggesting that it might constitute a universal characteristic of the Iberian colonization of the Americas. However, it has also recently been detected in the Black population of the United States. We thus wondered if the same could be observed in American Caucasians. To answer that question, we retrieved 1387 hypervariable I Caucasian mitochondrial DNA sequences from the FBI population database and established their haplogroups and continental geographical sources. In sharp contrast with the situation of the Caucasian population of Latin American countries, only 3.1% of the American Caucasian sequences had African and/or Amerindian origin. To explain this discrepancy we propose that the finding of elevated genomic contributions from European males and Amerindian or African females depends not only on the occurrence of directional mating, but also on the "racial" categorization of the children born from these relations. In this respect, social practices in Latin America and in the United States diverge considerably; in the former socially significant "races" are normally designated according to physical appearance, while in the latter descent appears to be the most important factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)256-261
Number of pages6
JournalGenetics and Molecular Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • African Americans
  • American Caucasians
  • Brazilians
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • Y-chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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