Are Mexicans related to Filipinos

Amazing diversity: Mexicans are genetically extremely diverse

The Mexicans are a mixed race - genetically speaking. The differences between some of them are as great as between Europeans and Asians, US researchers report in the journal Science. This reflects the hundreds to thousands of years of isolation of individual populations.

The researchers led by Andrés Moreno-Estrada from Stanford University (US state California) examined the genetic make-up of more than 1,000 people of Mexican origin.

These included representatives of 20 indigenous and eleven ethnically mixed populations with Mexican, European and African ancestors - so-called mestizos. Almost a million tiny deviations in the structure of DNA, called single nucleotide polymorphism, were taken into account.

The researchers found that the indigenous population of Mexico is genetically divided along an axis from northwest to southeast. The further the populations were spatially from each other, the more their genetic material differed. The differences between the Seri on the north coast of the Gulf of California and the Lacandon in the south of the country were about as great as between Europeans and Chinese.

Typical Spanish genetic traits

As expected, the researchers found characteristics of the respective ancestors in the genome of people of ethnically mixed origin. Consistent with the history of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, some of the subjects examined had genetic traits that are typical of Spaniards in mainland Europe.

The team also found characteristics of the Mexican ancestors - in each case according to the regional origin within the country.

"We were really fascinated by this result because we expected that 500 years of mass migration, immigration and mixing would have wiped out the signal of the pre-Columbian population structure," study director Carlos Bustamante of Stanford University is quoted in a statement.

In further analyzes, the researchers demonstrated that the genetic differences have an impact on health and health policy issues. For example, they showed that the lung functions in Mexicans of different origins can differ significantly.

Consequences for health

In a lung function test, for example, a man from western Mexico achieved significantly worse values ​​than a man of the same age from the south of the country. According to the current standard values, he appears to be ten years older than he actually is - although his lung function is not pathologically worsened.