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Open Access Research article

GM and KM immunoglobulin allotypes in the Galician population: new insights into the peopling of the Iberian Peninsula

Rosario Calderón1*, Rosa Lodeiro2, Tito A Varela2, José Fariña3, Beatriz Ambrosio1, Evelyne Guitard4, Antonio González-Martín1 and Jean M Dugoujon4

Author Affiliations

1 Departamento de Zoología y Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad Complutense, Madrid, Spain

2 Departamento de Biología Animal, Unidad de Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain

3 Departamento de Ecología y Biología Animal, Área de Antropología Física, Facultad de Biología, Universidad de Vigo, Vigo, Spain

4 Centre d'Anthropologie, FRE 2960, CNRS, Université Paul Sabatier, Toulouse, France

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BMC Genetics 2007, 8:37  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-8-37

Published: 27 June 2007

Abstract

Background

The current genetic structure of Iberian populations has presumably been affected by the complex orography of its territory, the different people and civilizations that settled there, its ancient and complex history, the diverse and persistent sociocultural patterns in its different regions, and also by the effects of the Iberian Peninsula representing a refugium area after the last glacial maximum. This paper presents the first data on GM and KM immunoglobulin allotypes in the Galician population and, thus, provides further insights into the extent of genetic diversity in populations settled in the geographic extremes of the Cantabrian region of northern Spain. Furthermore, the genetic relationships of Galicians with other European populations have been investigated.

Results

Galician population shows a genetic profile for GM haplotypes that is defined by the high presence of the European Mediterranean GM*3 23 5* haplotype, and the relatively high incidence of the African marker GM*1,17 23' 5*. Data based on comparisons between Galician and other Spanish populations (mainly from the north of the peninsula) reveal a poor correlation between geographic and genetic distances (r = 0.30, P = 0.105), a noticeable but variable genetic distances between Galician and Basque subpopulations, and a rather close genetic affinity between Galicia and Valencia, populations which are geographically separated by a long distance and have quite dissimilar cultures and histories. Interestingly, Galicia occupies a central position in the European genetic map, despite being geographically placed at one extreme of the European continent, while displaying a close genetic proximity to Portugal, a finding that is consistent with their shared histories over centuries.

Conclusion

These findings suggest that the population of Galicia is the result of a relatively balanced mixture of European populations or of the ancestral populations that gave rise to them. This would support the importance of the migratory movements that have taken place in Europe over the course of recent human history and their effects on the European genetic landscape.