Research at NYU re-asserts the wide genetic diversity that exists between Hispanic people living in the United States, a population that is understudied, said Dr. Harry Ostrer, professor of pediatrics, pathology and medicine and director of the Human Genetics Program at NYU Langone Medical Center.
This work could have medical application. The study suggests that the medical risks for one Hispanic group may not apply to another. It also provides a framework to better understand disease onset, which can lead to the development of genetic screening for illness.
Dr. Oster and his team tested 100 individuals of Hispanic/Latino background in the New York tri-state area, including Dominicans, Columbians, Ecuadorians, Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. They found that the 100 subjects’ genetic lines trace back European, Native American and West African genealogy.
Populations geographically close to former slave trade routes have more African ancestry than more inland Latin Americans, who have more Native American heritage.
Researchers also found a disproportionate sex bias where European male and Native American female ancestry contributed to present day populations.
Ostrer said future work includes examining cancer risks among Hispanic populations.
“Now we really do understand what degree of genetic variation and what the sources of genetic variation are,” he said. “We can use that as basis for designing the future study.”
Currently, Hispanic Americans make up 15.4 percent of the U.S. population, accounting for the second largest minority group, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau.
Read the full study here.