Open Access Preprint
We identified the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups A, B, C and D in 75 present-day Maya individuals, 24 Maya individuals of the colonial period and one pre-Columbian Maya individual from Quintana Roo, Mexico. We examined these data together with those of 21 Maya populations accounting for 647 present-day Maya individuals and 104 ancient Maya individuals. A demographic study based on the analysis of fertility and endogamy was carried out in two modern Maya populations to identify cultural factors that influence the mitochondrial haplogroup genetic diversity. Most present-day and ancient Maya populations show a distribution pattern of mitochondrial haplogroup frequencies A, C, B and D in decreasing order, with haplogroup D absent in several populations. Considering only modern Maya populations with at least 50 individuals analyzed, the present-day Tzotzil and Lacandon populations from Chiapas show the higher and lower genetic diversities, 0.706 and 0.025 respectively. Our results show small genetic differences between the Maya populations with exception of the present-day Tojolabal and Lacandon populations from Chiapas. The present-day Lacandon population from Chiapas is different to other Maya populations in showing almost only haplogroup A. This result suggests a long history of isolation and endogamy as well as a possible founder effect inside the Lacandonian rain-forest. The contemporary Tojolabal population is the only one with an unusual mitochondrial haplogroup pattern exhibiting a frequency of haplogroup B higher than A and the absence of haplogroup C. With a small sample size, the pre-Columbian Copan Maya show a high content of haplogroup C and a low frequency of haplogroup D. The genetic homogeneity of the Maya populations is indicative of a common origin and nearly continuous gene flow in the long-term within a general isolation of the whole group, conversely to the Nahua populations that had different origins. Our demographic study showed high fertility rates and high levels of endogamy in the present-day Maya populations from Quintana Roo here analyzed that are consistent with their general low genetic diversity. We propose that the genetic similarity among ancient and present-day Maya populations persists due to a strong sense of social cohesion and identity that impacts their marriage practices maintaining this cultural group isolated. These factors have constrained gene flow inside the Maya region and impeded the differentiation among the Maya. Discernment of genetic differentiation within the peninsula is constrained by the lack of sampling documentation in the literature.
González-Oliver, Angélica; Pineda-Vázquez, Dircé; Garfias-Morales, Ernesto; De La Cruz-Laina, Isabel; Medrano-González, Luis; Márquez-Morfín, Lourdes; and Ortega-Muñoz, Allan, "Genetic Overview of the Maya Populations: Mitochondrial DNA Haplogroups" (2019). Human Biology Open Access Pre-Prints. 147.