Evolutionary Genetics and Admixture in African Populations.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Pfennig, Aaron; Petersen, Lindsay N; Kachambwa, Paidamoyo; Lachance, Joseph
Year of Publication: 2023
Journal: Genome Biol Evol
Volume: 15
Issue: 4
Date Published: 2023 Apr 06
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 1759-6653
Keywords: Africa, Southern, Biological Evolution, Genetic Variation, Genetics, Population, Genome

As the ancestral homeland of our species, Africa contains elevated levels of genetic diversity and substantial population structure. Importantly, African genomes are heterogeneous: They contain mixtures of multiple ancestries, each of which have experienced different evolutionary histories. In this review, we view population genetics through the lens of admixture, highlighting how multiple demographic events have shaped African genomes. Each of these historical vignettes paints a recurring picture of population divergence followed by secondary contact. First, we give a brief overview of genetic variation in Africa and examine deep population structure within Africa, including the evidence of ancient introgression from archaic "ghost" populations. Second, we describe the genetic legacies of admixture events that have occurred during the past 10,000 years. This includes gene flow between different click-speaking Khoe-San populations, the stepwise spread of pastoralism from eastern to southern Africa, multiple migrations of Bantu speakers across the continent, as well as admixture from the Middle East and Europe into the Sahel region and North Africa. Furthermore, the genomic signatures of more recent admixture can be found in the Cape Peninsula and throughout the African diaspora. Third, we highlight how natural selection has shaped patterns of genetic variation across the continent, noting that gene flow provides a potent source of adaptive variation and that selective pressures vary across Africa. Finally, we explore the biomedical implications of population structure in Africa on health and disease and call for more ethically conducted studies of genetic variation in Africa.

DOI: 10.1093/gbe/evad054
Alternate Journal: Genome Biol Evol