Along the Indian Ocean coast: genomic variation in Mozambique provides new insights into the Bantu expansion.

Semo A, Gayà-Vidal M, Fortes-Lima C, Alard B, Oliveira S, Almeida J, Prista A, Damasceno A, Fehn AM, Schlebusch C, Rocha J

Mol. Biol. Evol. - (-) - [2019-10-08; online 2019-10-08]

The Bantu expansion, which started in West Central Africa around 5,000 BP, constitutes a major migratory movement involving the joint spread of peoples and languages across sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the rich linguistic and archaeological evidence available, the genetic relationships between different Bantu-speaking populations and the migratory routes they followed during various phases of the expansion remain poorly understood. Here, we analyze the genetic profiles of southwestern and southeastern Bantu-speaking peoples located at the edges of the Bantu expansion by generating genome-wide data for 200 individuals from 12 Mozambican and 3 Angolan populations using ∼1.9 million autosomal single nucleotide polymorphisms. Incorporating a wide range of available genetic data, our analyses confirm previous results favoring a "late split" between West and East Bantu speakers, following a joint passage through the rainforest. In addition, we find that Bantu speakers from eastern Africa display genetic substructure, with Mozambican populations forming a gradient of relatedness along a North-South cline stretching from the coastal border between Kenya and Tanzania to South Africa. This gradient is further associated with a southward increase in genetic homogeneity, and involved minimum admixture with resident populations. Together, our results provide the first genetic evidence in support of a rapid North-South dispersal of Bantu peoples along the Indian Ocean Coast, as inferred from the distribution and antiquity of Early Iron Age assemblages associated with the Kwale archaeological tradition.

Bioinformatics Compute and Storage [Service]

NGI Uppsala (SNP&SEQ Technology Platform) [Service]

National Genomics Infrastructure [Service]

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PubMed 31593238

DOI 10.1093/molbev/msz224

Crossref 10.1093/molbev/msz224

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