Gene Expression

African genetic structure

I’ve been fine tuning Ubuntu all day with goodies and getting drivers to work right, so I missed this paper on African genetics:

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.

In the press the lead author suggests that 13% might be a lowball figure for European ancestry among African Americans (other studies average out in the range of 20%). I’ll outsource my commentary & links to Dan MacArthur, since the exchange rate is good right now….


  1. #1 Matt
    May 1, 2009

    It seems kind of odd that those African American numbers don’t add to 100%, unless there’s some other source of African American ancestry. 8% Amerind seems unlikely.

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