Asian Ancestors Detected in DNA Study in Mexico

News April 13, 2018

(Cornelis Verbeeck, Public Domain)
Mexico Asia DNA
(Cornelis Verbeeck, Public Domain)

IRAPUATO, MEXICO—According to a report in Science Magazine, population geneticist Juan Esteban Rodríguez and his advisor, Andrés Moreno-Estrada, of the National Laboratory of Genomics for Biodiversity, used data collected from the genomes of 500 living Mexicans to look for traces of Asian immigrants to Mexico. The scientists expected to find traces of nineteenth-century Chinese immigrants who lived in northern Mexico, and so were surprised to find that about one-third of the people in the sample who live in the Pacific coastal state of Guerrero also had significant Asian ancestry. Their DNA resembled that of present-day populations from the Philippines and Indonesia. Historic records suggest their ancestors may have been enslaved and carried from Asia to Mexico in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries on Spanish galleons. “We’re uncovering these hidden stories of slavery and people who lost their identities when they disembarked in a whole new country,” Moreno-Estrada said. For more on the colonial history of Mexico, go to “Conquistador Contagion.”

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