Y chromosome sequences reveal a short Beringian standstill, rapid expansion, and early population structure of Native American founders

Thomaz Pinotti, Anders Bergström, Maria Geppert, Matt Bawn, Dominique Ohasi, Wentao Shi, Daniela R. Lacerda, Arne Solli, Jakob Norstedt, Kate Reed, Kim Dawtry, Fabricio González-Andrade, Cesar Paz-y-Miño, Susana Revollo, Cinthia Cuellar, Marilza S. Jota, José E. Santos, Qasim Ayub, Toomas Kivisild, José R. SandovalRicardo Fujita, Yali Xue, Lutz Roewer, Fabrício R. Santos, Chris Tyler-Smith

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73 Citations (Scopus)


The Americas were the last inhabitable continents to be occupied by humans, with a growing multidisciplinary consensus for entry 15–25 thousand years ago (kya) from northeast Asia via the former Beringia land bridge [1, 2, 3, 4]. Autosomal DNA analyses have dated the separation of Native American ancestors from the Asian gene pool to 23 kya or later [5, 6] and mtDNA analyses to ∼25 kya [7], followed by isolation (“Beringian Standstill” [8, 9]) for 2.4–9 ky and then a rapid expansion throughout the Americas. Here, we present a calibrated sequence-based analysis of 222 Native American and relevant Eurasian Y chromosomes (24 new) from haplogroups Q and C [10], with four major conclusions. First, we identify three to four independent lineages as autochthonous and likely founders: the major Q-M3 and rarer Q-CTS1780 present throughout the Americas, the very rare C3-MPB373 in South America, and possibly the C3-P39/Z30536 in North America. Second, from the divergence times and Eurasian/American distribution of lineages, we estimate a Beringian Standstill duration of 2.7 ky or 4.6 ky, according to alternative models, and entry south of the ice sheet after 19.5 kya. Third, we describe the star-like expansion of Q-M848 (within Q-M3) starting at 15 kya [11] in the Americas, followed by establishment of substantial spatial structure in South America by 12 kya. Fourth, the deep branches of the Q-CTS1780 lineage present at low frequencies throughout the Americas today [12] may reflect a separate out-of-Beringia dispersal after the melting of the glaciers at the end of the Pleistocene.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)149-157.e3
Number of pages9
JournalCurrent Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jan 2019

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