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Genetic data added to archaeology and linguistics to get picture of African population history
Date:5/26/2010

ng a timeline for the emergence of innovations. Historical linguistic data complement the archaeological record by contributing an independent phylogenetic analysis of language relationships and providing clues about ancient population migration and admixture events. Genetic data provide an independent data source to understand the biological relationships among modern peoples and likely points of origin and expansion of their ancestors.

"The details of modern human demography are complex and not well understood, so we have taken a cross-disciplinary approach to highlight broad patterns of population history in Africa," said Laura Scheinfeldt of the Department of Genetics at Penn's School of Medicine.

Patterns will continue to emerge as geneticists from Penn and elsewhere further analyze a mountain of genetic data acquired from these understudied populations.

The development of sequencing and genotyping technologies has advanced at an unprecedented rate and is allowing for the genotyping of millions of single-nucleotide polymorphisms and the sequencing of millions of nucleotides across populations.

This data, coupled with computational methods for inferring demographic parameters and testing demographic models for example, maximum likelihood and approximate Bayesian computation -- can refine our understanding of African past population histories.

"The incorporation of archaeological and linguistic data will be important for establishing testable hypotheses and elucidating the evolutionary processes or forces that have shaped the genomic landscape in Africa," Tishkoff said.

Analyzing patterns of population structure and ancestry in Africans illuminates the history of human populations and is critical for undertaking medical genomic studies on a global scale. Understanding ancestry not only provides insight into historical migration patterns and human origins and provides a greater understanding of evolutiona
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Contact: Jordan Reese
jreese@upenn.edu
215-573-6604
University of Pennsylvania
Source:Eurekalert  

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