Tuesday, May 5, 2009

New genetic revelations regarding the origins of Africans, African Americans

Here's another recent study I came across while reading about different ancestral populations; it's the largest study of the genetic diversity of Africans, spanning four million genotypes identified through the collaborative efforts of African, European, and American researchers.

So what does it tell us? Apparently Africans can be traced back to 14(!) ancestral population clusters, clusters confirmed by their correlation with ethnicity and shared cultural characteristics. The researchers were also able to use the data to approximate the migration of these ancestral populations, identifying southern Africa as the ancestral origin of humans. The data also found African American ancestry to be largely Niger-Kordofanian and European in composition. Even more remarkably, such extrapolations are consonant with established knowledge on the cultural and linguistic diversity in Africa.

Clearly this mother lode of genetic data has much potential beyond tracing population history and migration of African and African-American populations. Imagine the possibilities regarding healthcare -- scientists can use the data to identify what genetic factors specific to Africans and African-Americans increase susceptibility to certain diseases. Knowing the genetic nature of the overwhelming variety among Africans can increase the efficacy of public health initiatives across Africa. It'll be fascinating to see where scientists go with this potent genetic data...

article link here

study link here

-Andrew Plan

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