Analyses of DNA from ancient bones of a pre-Columbian Cuban woman and a child


Analyses of DNA from ancient bones of a pre-Columbian Cuban woman and a child



Ricardo Lleonart1, Eileen Riego1, Roberto Rodríguez Suárez2, Rafael Travieso Ruiz2 and José de la Fuente1
1Mammalian Cell Genetics Division, Centro de Ingeniería Genética y Biotecnología, P.O. Box 6162, Havana, Cuba. Send correspondence to J.F. Fax: +53-7-336-008/+53-7-218-070. E-mail: jose.delafuente@cigb.edu.cu 2Montané Anthropological Museum, Faculty of Biology, University of Havana, Calle 25 e/. I y J, Havana, Cuba.





ABSTRACT

Molecular anthropology has brought new possibilities into the study of ancient human populations. Amplification of chromosomal short tandem repeat (STR) loci and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) has been successfully employed in analyses of ancient bone material. Although several studies have reported on continental Amerindian populations, none have addressed the ancient populations inhabiting the Caribbean islands. We used STR and mtDNA analyses to study the skeletal remains of a Cuban Ciboney female adult holding an infant. Results showed that for the STR analyzed the skeletal remains shared common alleles, suggesting a relationship. Mitochondrial DNA analysis showed sequence identity, thus corroborating a possible mother-child relationship. The mtDNA sequence grouped these remains into haplogroup A, commonly found in Amerindian populations. Based on these results, we speculated on a South American origin of pre-Columbian Antilles populations and possible infanticide practices in these populations. This constitutes the first report on DNA analysis of ancient pre-Columbian Cuban populations.