DNA Comparison of Africa's Ethnic Groups Quantifies Genetic Diversity: Differences Could Reveal Details of Modern Human Origins

By Barazesh, Solmaz | Science News, May 23, 2009 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

DNA Comparison of Africa's Ethnic Groups Quantifies Genetic Diversity: Differences Could Reveal Details of Modern Human Origins


Barazesh, Solmaz, Science News


The largest genetic study of African populations reveals a greater diversity among the continent's cultural groups than previously known, scientists say. The study also offers insight into the origins of modern humans and the ancestry of African-Americans, researchers said in an April 29 teleconference and in a paper posted online April 30 in Science.

Until now, most genetic surveys of this type have used data from just a few African groups assumed to reflect Africa's genetic diversity. But the new research shows that "no single African population is representative of the diversity of the continent," says study coauthor Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

Tishkoff and her colleagues analyzed particular DNA sequences--series of the chemical letters that encode genetic information--from more than 3,000 people from 121 different populations scattered throughout Africa. Researchers divided the participants based on self-identified ethnic groups.

To reach remote groups, such as the Pygmies of Cameroon and the hunter-gatherers of Tanzania, researchers drove off-road and set up makeshift labs with equipment powered by their car battery.

"This is by far the most in-depth analysis in terms of the number of populations analyzed," comments evolutionary geneticist Mark Stoneking of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

The researchers found that the genetic sequences were highly diverse from one population to the next. "We knew that African populations were diverse in culture, art, religious ideas," says Roy King of Stanford University School of Medicine. "Now we see that genetic diversity goes along these same lines."

Because modern humans originated in Africa, there has been more time for changes to accumulate in the African DNA sequences than there has been in sequences from people in other parts of the world, Tishkoff says.

It turns out that the San bushmen of southern Africa have the most distinct, and therefore oldest, genetic sequences, the team reports.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

DNA Comparison of Africa's Ethnic Groups Quantifies Genetic Diversity: Differences Could Reveal Details of Modern Human Origins
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?