Tuesday, February 25, 2014

mtDNA from Southern Africa

Reference mtDNA from Southern Africa from the pre-print "Migration and interaction in a contact zone: mtDNA variation among Bantu-speakers in southern Africa" (Thanks to Maju for the referral)


  1. You're most welcome, Ethio Helix. I just wrote something on the same paper today, before noticing this entry, whose chart would have helped me a bit. I observed the following highlights and I would appreciate a second opinion on them:

    1. L3d (more specifically L3d3a1) seems essentially Damara, even if the Himba and Herero (but rarely other Bantus) also have plenty of it.

    2. Instead L3f (essentially L3f1b4a) seems specifically Himba-Herero. My suspicion here is an East African (pre-Bantu?, semi-Bantu?) origin, because AFAIK it is rare in West Africa (but does exist at least in Kenya). Some cultural practices of the Himba especially already hinted to some possible East African affinity.

    3. Some Zambians (Fwe and Shanjo from the SW and pooled NE Zambians) have a noticeable L1b founder effect. This lineage has a somewhat restricted distribution North of the jungle belt (notably the Fulani) but lacking specific sublineage information I do not dare to speculate further.

    4. Typical L0d Khoisan admixture seems concentrated in Botswana (and from previous studies also the Xhosa). Instead further North it is less important or even absent.

    5. L0k has a center of distribution in SW Zambia (maybe also Caprivi Strip, Okawango Delta?), being rather a South-Central than a strictly Southern African lineage.

    6. There are high frequencies of L1c (in principle a Western Pygmy lineage) but not or quite smaller precisely in those Bantu populations that show Khoisan (L0d) or Damara (L3d) admixture. I suspect that this reflects some sort of distinctive admixture patterns between Northern and Southern/SE Bantu populations of Southern Africa. If I'm correct, this differential L1c admixture would have taken place after settlement, rather than "on the march", suggesting that West Pygmy or related populations were more extended by the Western jungle belt than today, reaching well into Angola.

    1. Thank you for the insight Maju, I'm afraid I can not comment right now without looking into the material more deeply.