Khoisan genes live on

2013-01-20 21:41
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Cape Town - Research by a team of German scientists has revealed that genes from extinct Khoisan groups still survive in Bantu-speaking agriculturalists that immigrated into southern Africa 2 000 to 1 200 years ago.

Eurekalert reported the study by the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig and the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) in Lyon. Researchers investigated the maternally inherited mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 500 individuals from southern Africa speaking different Khoisan and Bantu languages.

Results indicate that divergent mtDNA lineages from indigenous Khoisan groups were incorporated into the gene pool of the immigrating Bantu-speaking agriculturalists through admixture, and have thus survived until the present day.

Admixture is the process whereby two previously separated populations interbreed thereby introducing new lineages into a population.

"Our analyses indicate that the best explanation for our findings is that the Bantu-speaking immigrants married resident Khoisan women when they first came to southern Africa, thus incorporating these divergent lineages into their maternal gene pool,” said Chiara Barbieri lead author of the study.

"This is a really important finding, because it demonstrates that we might be able to learn more about the peoples who inhabited sub-Saharan Africa before the Iron Age spread of Bantu-speaking agriculturalists by studying relic lineages that were taken up by the agriculturalists through intermarriage with indigenous peoples," added Brigitte Pakendorf from the CNRS lab, who co-ordinated the study.


 
- News24
Read more on:    genetics
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