Population genetic history and patterns of admixture: Examples from northeastern and southern Africa

  • Datum:
  • Plats: Lindahlsalen, Norbyvägen 18A, Uppsala
  • Doktorand: Hollfelder, Nina
  • Om avhandlingen
  • Arrangör: Evolution och utvecklingsbiologi
  • Kontaktperson: Hollfelder, Nina
  • Disputation

The origin of humans lies in Africa, as has been shown by archaeology, paleontology and genetics. Here, we can find the largest genetic diversity and the deepest split among human populations. In this thesis, I applied population genomic methods to investigate different aspects of the demographic history of Africa, specifically northeast and southern Africa.

The origin of humans lies in Africa, as has been shown by archaeology, paleontology and genetics. Here, we can find the largest genetic diversity and the deepest split among human populations. African genetic diversity has been shaped by a long and complex history. In this thesis, I applied population genomic methods to investigate different aspects of the demographic history of Africa, specifically northeast and southern Africa.

Both of these regions are population melting-pots, with many historically known major migrations.

In northeast African populations, Eurasian admixture in central, northern, and eastern Sudanese populations was identified to be of Middle Eastern origin and the admixture time coincides with the Arab expansion. In northeast Africa I also studied alleles associated with lactase persistence, the ability to digest milk at an adult age. A wide diversity of these alleles was detected in Sudan, most commonly among pastoralists. The presence of a Middle Eastern LP-allele and absence of a European LP-allele is consistent with the admixture pattern observed in the first paper.

I deciphered the patterns of genetic admixture in the Afrikaner population of South Africa and compared admixture patterns of the X-chromosome and autosomes to disentangle sex-biased admixture in southern African populations.

The Afrikaner were shown to carry on average 5% non-European admixture, mostly from Khoe-San, East and South Asian sources. The admixture was sex-biased, with larger contributions from European males and admixture with Africans can be dated to 9-10 generations ago – fitting previous genealogical estimates of the age and the history of the population.

Bantu-speaker/Khoe-San contact shows a pattern of female Bantu-speaker bias, which is conflicting with previous mtDNA and Y-chromosome studies. A change in mate-choice over time could explain this discrepancy.

This thesis contributes to a deeper understanding of African demographic history in general and of some previously understudied populations and geographic areas in particular.