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Data from: Genetic uniqueness of the Waorani tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon

Cite this dataset

Valverde, Laura et al. (2011). Data from: Genetic uniqueness of the Waorani tribe from the Ecuadorian Amazon [Dataset]. Dryad.


South America and especially the Amazon basin is known to be home to some of the most isolated human groups in the world. Here we report on a study of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in the Waorani from Ecuador, probably the most warlike human population known to date. Seeking to look in more depth at the characterization of the genetic diversity of this Native American tribe, molecular markers from the X and Y chromosomes were also analyzed. Only three different mitochondrial DNA haplotypes were detected among the Waorani sample. One of them, assigned to Native American haplogroup A2, accounted for more than 94% of the total diversity of the maternal gene pool. Our results for sex chromosome molecular markers failed to find direct kinship between individuals and further emphasized the low genetic diversity of the mtDNA found. Bearing in mind the results obtained for both the analysis of the mtDNA control region and complete mitochondrial genomes, we suggest the existence of a "Waorani-specific" mtDNA lineage. According to current knowledge on the phylogeny of haplogroup A2, we propose that this lineage could be designated as subhaplogroup A2s. Its wide predominance among the Waorani people might have been conditioned by severe genetic drift episodes resulting from founding events, long-term isolation, and a traditionally small population size most likely associated with the striking ethnography of this Amazonian community. In all, the Waorani constitute a fine example of how genetic imprint may mirror ethnopsychology and sociocultural features in human populations.

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