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September 22 2012

African neighbours divided by their genes


Two studies exploring the genetics of hunter-gatherers and pastoralists in sub-Saharan Africa, where humans are thought to have originated, reveal that even though the click-language peoples of southern Africa live in close proximity, they belong to two distinct genetic clusters.

To assess the degree of genetic difference, both teams looked at single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) variations at individual nucleotides between different people in the DNA of the various populations. One study, led by Carina Schlebusch at Uppsala University in Sweden and published today in Science1, analysed SNPs from 220 individuals belonging to 11 different southern African populations. The other, led by Joseph Pickrell at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts, and posted to the arXiv preprint server ahead of its publication in Nature Communications2, examined SNPs from 187 individuals belonging to 23 southern and eastern African populations.

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