Determining mitochondrial lineages of ancient Maya through ancient mtDNA analysis.
Michael Haynes. Department of Biology, SUNY Plattsburgh
The objective of this on-going research is to determine the haplogroup lineages of ancient Maya from Tipu, Belize through the isolation of ancient mitochondrial DNA (ancient mtDNA). This study used teeth from twenty-five randomly selected skeletons that are a part of a collection of ~580 skeletons unearthed from a 16th and 17th century colonial cemetery in Tipu. The skeletons were unearthed by Dr. Mark Cohen and a dig team and currently belong to SUNY Plattsburgh. The samples of teeth went through the following DNA extraction protocol: polymerase chain reaction (PCR) amplified the mtDNA and specific primers were used to test for specific Amerindian Haplogroups (A, B, C and D). The DNA sequences were analyzed by a computer software program known as Finch TV. Of the twenty-five samples tested, the results indicate that two individuals belong to haplogroup B, sixteen individuals belong to haplogroup C, and seven individuals belong to haplogroup D. Haplogroup A is absent from the individuals tested thus far. This research will contribute to current knowledge of ancient Maya and the migration routes that were taken to populate the new world. Future plans include establishing haplogroups for the remaining ~580 skeletons and determining the sex of juvenile skeletons