The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans
Our paper with Drs. Sarah Tishkoff and Scott Williams on "The Genetic Structure and History of Africans and African Americans" has been published online in Science. You can access the online version here. The full paper will be in print soon. The Dartmouth press release is here.
Sarah A. Tishkoff, Floyd A. Reed, Françoise R. Friedlaender, Christopher Ehret, Alessia Ranciaro, Alain Froment, Jibril B. Hirbo, Agnes A. Awomoyi, Jean-Marie Bodo, Ogobara Doumbo, Muntaser Ibrahim, Abdalla T. Juma, Maritha J. Kotze, Godfrey Lema, Jason H. Moore, Holly Mortensen, Thomas B. Nyambo, Sabah A. Omar, Kweli Powell, Gideon S. Pretorius, Michael W. Smith, Mahamadou A. Thera, Charles Wambebe, James L. Weber, Scott M. Williams. Science, published online April 30, 2009. [Science] [PubMed]
Africa is the source of all modern humans, but characterization of genetic variation and of relationships among populations across the continent has been enigmatic. We studied 121 African populations, 4 African American populations, and 60 non-African populations for patterns of variation at 1327 nuclear microsatellite and insertion/deletion markers. We identified 14 ancestral population clusters in Africa that correlate with self-described ethnicity and shared cultural and/or linguistic properties. We observe high levels of mixed ancestry in most populations, reflecting historic migration events across the continent. Our data also provide evidence for shared ancestry among geographically diverse hunter-gatherer populations (Khoesan-speakers and Pygmies). The ancestry of African Americans is predominantly from Niger-Kordofanian (~71%), European (~13%), and other African (~8%) populations, although admixture levels varied considerably among individuals. This study helps tease apart the complex evolutionary history of Africans and African Americans, aiding both anthropological and genetic epidemiologic studies.