Europe and the Mediterranean have a
complex and diverse
evolutionary history. The first modern humans are believed to have
Europe some 40,000 years ago. During the following millennia, the
continent underwent a series of environmental and climatic
caused much of the flora and fauna of the continent to move and migrate
order to maintain viable populations in the habitats to which they had
Humans were no different. These factors, together with successive waves
peoples from the Middle East and elsewehere, such as the
Neolithic farmers, have
combined to produce the present genetic variation in Europe today.
This project aims to investigate the present population structure of Europe by genotyping the Y chromosomes of men from across the continent. We are using samples from across the Mediterranean and Southern Europe, from Portugal to the Ukraine. We aim to investigate specific lineages of Y chromosomes which are othe common and believed to be associated with the first people of Europe, and will assess the genetic differentiation within them. This should allow us to date the movements of peoples around the Mediterranean, to eventually see whether specific lineages can be attributed to prehistorical and archaeological events
It is now generally accepted that modern humans originated
in Africa. Southern African genetic history, however, has so far been
understudied, despite possibilities that this region might have played
significant role in the origins of modern humans. Current African
only a limited number of Southern African populations and a limited
individuals within these populations.
Southern Africa is an interesting area for studies of
population genetic history for several reasons.
1. Despite genetic, palaeobiological and archaeological evidence in support of an Eastern African origin for modern humans, there is also archaeological evidence showing signs of modern behaviour about 165,000 years ago on the coast of South Africa, and genetic studies of this region would help demonstrate what role Southern Africa might have played in the origins of modern humans.
2. The Bantu expansion of farmers has been relatively well studied in other areas of Africa, but little is known about admixture between hunter-gatherers and these farmers in Southern Africa.
Studies of current populations could demonstrate ancient
present before the Bantu arrival into the region, and also show to what
these different populations interacted with each other, and thus
variation seen today.
This project will investigate the population genetic history of southern Africa using both slow and fast evolving markers (SNPs and STRs) within autosomal regions of low recombination. Samples will be analysed from Botswana, Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa.
Unfortunately, the majority of genetic
studies in sub-Saharan
the people of
During October-November 2009 samples were
MtDNA and Y chromosome analysis
is currently ongoing and will be analysed by comparison with data
available for other Khoisan populations. As part of this project we
to investigate low recombination autosomal regions and compared with
from other regions. Information collected with regards to participants
groups and languages spoken will also be analysed in order to aid
about admixture events.
We would like to thank the significant support and
help of The Lesotho Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, The Lesotho
of Local Government, The Lesotho Ministry of Tourism, Environment and
work would not have been possible without the people of Lesotho: we
to thank of all the volunteers for their cooperation and agreement to
samples as well as all the people that in different ways made this
possible. We would like to thanks among the others Njapeli Matlanyane
Nthontsi Qokolo for their invaluable help during the sampling sessions. Chiara Batini, Sarah Marks and George Busby
are greatly acknowledged for their invaluable support in the
the expedition and the collection of the samples. Peter Mitchell &
Namibia, a country in South-west Sub-Saharan Africa, is one of the few Southern African countries where hunter-gatherer, pastoralist and farmer lifestyles all coexist. This close proximity of three different lifestyles makes Namibia a very interesting place to study the interactions that occur between different ethnic groups with different lifestyles. Despite this potential, very few samples from Namibia are available in the literature, making comparisons both between ethnic groups within Namibia, and between the Namibian populations and other populations from across Southern Africa difficult.
Working in collaboration with Dr Ockie Oosthuizen
Oosthuizen, in September 2010 saliva samples were collected in Namibia
distinct ethnic groups within the country: Bushmen (Khoisan-speaking
hunter-gatherers), Damara (Khoisan-speaking farmers), Herero
farmers), Himba (Bantu-speaking hunter-gatherers), Owambo
farmers) and Nama (Khoisan-speaking pastoralists). MtDNA and Y
analysis will be carried out on these samples, which will then be
those collected in Lesotho, and those already available in the
hope these comparisons will provide an insight into population
interactions within Namibia itself, perhaps showing how the different
groups have interacted with each other. On a broader scale, this work
place Namibia in the context of Sub-Saharan Africa and demonstrate how
Namibian populations compare to those in the rest of the sub-continent,
helping with the understanding of human population movements within the
of Southern Africa. Of particular interest is the interaction between
farming and indigenous hunter-gatherer groups, and also possible shifts
language/lifestyle that some of the Namibian ethnic groups seem to have
We would like to thank the Namibian Ministry of Health for their assistance and permission to carry out this project. We would also like to thank the people of Namibia for volunteering their saliva. Dr Ockie and Erica Oosthuizen played an instrumental role in the organisation of the sampling trip, and their knowledge of the area and local contacts were invaluable. Sarah Marks is also acknowledged for help organising the trip and collecting samples, and Simon Marks for help with sampling. We were also assisted by many translators, without whom we would not have been able to collect the ethno-linguistic information. Finally we would like to thank The Wenner Gren Foundation, and the Boise Fund for providing the funding needed to carry out this project.
See Sarena Che Omar's webpage