Assortative mating on ancestry-variant traits in admixed Latin American populations


Background Assortative mating is a universal feature of human societies, and individuals from ethnically diverse populations are known to mate assortatively based on similarities in genetic ancestry. However, little is currently known regarding the exact phenotypic cues, or their underlying genetic architecture, which inform ancestry-based assortative mating. Results We developed a novel approach, using genome-wide analysis of ancestry-specific haplotypes, to evaluate ancestry-based assortative mating on traits whose expression varies among the three continental population groups - African, European, and Native American - that admixed to form modern Latin American populations. Application of this method to genome sequences sampled from Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Puerto Rico revealed widespread ancestry-based assortative mating. We discovered a number of anthropometric traits (body mass, height, facial development and waist-hip ratio) and neurological attributes (educational attainment and schizophrenia) that serve as phenotypic cues for ancestry-based assortative mating. Major histocompatibility complex (MHC) loci show population-specific patterns of both assortative and disassortative mating in Latin America. Ancestry-based assortative mating in the populations analyzed here appears to be driven primarily by African ancestry. Conclusions This study serves as an example of how population genomic analyses can yield novel insights into human behavior.

BioRxiv preprint