Khoisan hunter-gatherers have been the largest population throughout most of modern-human demographic history.

Bibliographic Collection: 
Publication Type: Journal Article
Authors: Kim, Hie Lim; Ratan, Aakrosh; Perry, George H; Montenegro, Alvaro; Miller, Webb; Schuster, Stephan C
Year of Publication: 2014
Journal: Nat Commun
Volume: 5
Pagination: 5692
Date Published: 2014
Publication Language: eng
ISSN: 2041-1723
Keywords: Africa, Southern, African Continental Ancestry Group, Demography, Female, Genetic Variation, Genetics, Population, Humans, Male, Sequence Analysis, DNA

The Khoisan people from Southern Africa maintained ancient lifestyles as hunter-gatherers or pastoralists up to modern times, though little else is known about their early history. Here we infer early demographic histories of modern humans using whole-genome sequences of five Khoisan individuals and one Bantu speaker. Comparison with a 420 K SNP data set from worldwide individuals demonstrates that two of the Khoisan genomes from the Ju/'hoansi population contain exclusive Khoisan ancestry. Coalescent analysis shows that the Khoisan and their ancestors have been the largest populations since their split with the non-Khoisan population ~100-150 kyr ago. In contrast, the ancestors of the non-Khoisan groups, including Bantu-speakers and non-Africans, experienced population declines after the split and lost more than half of their genetic diversity. Paleoclimate records indicate that the precipitation in southern Africa increased ~80-100 kyr ago while west-central Africa became drier. We hypothesize that these climate differences might be related to the divergent-ancient histories among human populations.

DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6692
Alternate Journal: Nat Commun