Mayaguez, Puerto Rico - Two short studies revealing that a considerable percentage of Puerto Ricans have indigenous American Indian blood have persuaded doctor Juan C. Cruzado Martinez to make a sample experiment with the purpose of measuring genetic contributions through the maternal lineage of the three ethnic groups that predominate in Puerto Rico.
In a addition to the native American Indian, the study will identify the percentage of Puerto Ricans that have black and Caucasian (white) heritage.
In the study, which began in August (1999), Martinez
(received) a scholarship grant of $270,000 from the National Foundation of Sciences of the United States
Martinez, who is a professor of Biology of the Recinto University of Mayaguez (RUM), explained that the experiment will examine the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) of mitochondria (mtDNA) that is transmitted solelythrough the mother.
From the volunteers, six roots of hair are taken that are treated in the laboratory so that the DNA is released.
Each ethnic group has an mtDNA distinguishing marker indicated.
The professor maintained that for the first study, taken in the past academic year, he
examined DNA of 56 people, 23 residents of districts who have an known indigenous background, like Indiera Alta
Indiera Baja, of Maricao and Miraflores, of Anasco.
The other volunteers were workers of the RUM
that affirmed to have Indian ancestry on the part of the mother or a grandmother.
Over 70% of the examined participants registered mtDNA of indigenous origin.
As that study was skewed, since they only looked for people who could possibly have indigenous ancestry, Martinez
had made an additional study in which he
examined 38 people selected (scientifically) at random.
Of that group, 53% tested positive for indigenous mtDNA.
"Now we are going to make a study much more complete because the study will be representative of all Puerto Rico and we will gather from the different social strata", Martinez
"The statistical error is going to be relatively low", affirmed Martinez
For the study Martinez
and a group of biology students will visit 800 homes in different zones of Puerto Rico.
For the sample volunteers of eight towns of larger populations will be selected.
They are San Juan, Bayamon, Ponce, Carolina, Caguas, Mayaguez, Arecibo, and Guaynabo.
In addition, they will look for samples in Cayey, Corozal, and Barranquitas, in the Central zone; in Aguadilla, San Sabatian, Moca and Hormigueros in the West: in Yauco, Juana Diaz and Penuelas in the South; in Toa Baja, Vega Baja and Vega Alta in the North; and in Humacao, San Lorenzo and Loiza in the East.
The towns were scientifically chosen at random, pointed Martinez
emphasized that it will be the first time that an experiment of this nature in Puerto Rico.