Genetic Diversity in Totonacan-Speaking Populations from Veracruz and Puebla States of Mexico

Daniel Ross Brooks


The Totonac are an indigenous Mexican ethnic group living in the states of Puebla and Veracruz.  To explore the linguistic, cultural, and geographical influences on the genetic composition and migration history of the Totonac, we PCR amplified, and sequenced the hypervariable 1 (HVSI) region of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) from 60 members of this group.  Our results demonstrate that 97% of the mtDNA haplotypes were indigenous in origin, and belonged to one of three major indigenous haplogroups (lineages): A2, B2 and C1.  The remaining 3% belonged to H, a common European haplogroup.  This pattern suggests limited maternal admixture with non-native populations such as Spanish colonists and Africans introduced to Mexico as slaves in the last 500 years.  When the Totonac mtDNA data were compared to those of other Native Mexican groups such as the Tepehua, Nahua and Otomi, we observed that linguistics rather than geography played a larger role in shaping the genetic composition of the Totonoc.  Statistical tests were used to confirm this analysis and delineate the factors that shaped the observed pattern.  The analysis of genetic diversity in the Totonac will further enable the reconstruction of prehistoric events and maternal patterns of migration within Central Mexico.


Totonac, mtDNA, haplogroup

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