Academic journal article Genetics

The Effect of Recent Admixture on Inference of Ancient Human Population History

Academic journal article Genetics

The Effect of Recent Admixture on Inference of Ancient Human Population History

Article excerpt


Despite the widespread study of genetic variation in admixed human populations, such as African-Americans, there has not been an evaluation of the effects of recent admixture on patterns of polymorphism or inferences about population demography. These issues are particularly relevant because estimates of the timing and magnitude of population growth in Africa have differed among previous studies, some of which examined African-American individuals. Here we use simulations and single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data collected through direct resequencing and genotyping to investigate these issues. We find that when estimating the current population size and magnitude of recent growth in an ancestral population using the site frequency spectrum (SFS), it is possible to obtain reasonably accurate estimates of the parameters when using samples drawn from the admixed population under certain conditions. We also show that methods for demographic inference that use haplotype patterns are more sensitive to recent admixture than are methods based on the SFS. The analysis of human genetic variation data from the Yoruba people of Ibadan, Nigeria and African-Americans supports the predictions from the simulations. Our results have important implications for the evaluation of previous population genetic studies that have considered African-American individuals as a proxy for individuals from West Africa as well as for future population genetic studies of additional admixed populations.

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STUDIES of archeological and genetic data show that anatomically modern humans originated in Africa and more recently left Africa to populate the rest of the world (Tishkoff and Williams 2002; Barbujani and Goldstein 2004; Garrigan and Hammer 2006; Reed and Tishkoff 2006; Campbell and Tishkoff 2008; Jakobsson et al. 2008; Li et al. 2008). Given the central role Africa has played in the origin of diverse human populations, understanding patterns of genetic variation and the demographic history of populations within Africa is important for understanding the demographic history of global human populations. The availability of large-scale single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data sets coupled with recent advances in statistical methodology for inferring parameters in population genetic models provides a powerful means of accomplishing these goals (Keinan et al. 2007; Boyko et al. 2008; Lohmueller et al. 2009; Nielsen et al. 2009).

It is important to realize that studies of African demographic history using genetic data have come to qualitatively different conclusions regarding important parameters. Some recent studies have found evidence for ancient (.100,000 years ago) two- to fourfold growth in African populations (Adams and Hudson 2004; Marth et al. 2004; Keinan et al. 2007; Boyko et al. 2008). Other studies have found evidence of very recent growth (Pluzhnikov et al. 2002; Akey et al. 2004; Voight et al. 2005; Cox et al. 2009; Wall et al. 2009) or could not reject a model with a constant population size (Pluzhnikov et al. 2002; Voight et al. 2005). It is unclear why studies found such different parameter estimates. However, these studies all differ from each other in the amount of data considered, the types of data used (e.g., SNP genotypes vs. full resequencing), the genomic regions studied (e.g., noncoding vs. coding SNPs), and the types of demographic models considered (e.g., including migration vs. not including migration postseparation of African and non-African populations).

Another important way in which studies of African demographic history differ from each other is in the populations sampled. Some studies have focused on genetic data from individuals sampled from within Africa (Pluzhnikov et al. 2002; Adams and Hudson 2004; Voight et al. 2005; Keinan et al. 2007; Cox et al. 2009; Wall et al. 2009), while other studies included American individuals with African ancestry (Adams and Hudson 2004; Akey et al. …

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