West Africans migrate to East and Southern Africa via Zambia – Scientists


Thousands of years ago Scientists say all humans are descendants from this common pool of ancestors. Africa is the cradle of humankind. Africa and its multitude of ethnolinguistic groups are therefore fundamental to learning more about humankind and our origins.

A human genome refers to the complete set of genetic information found in a human cell. We inherit our genomes from our parents.

Studying the variations in different people’s genomes gives important clues to how genetic information influences people’s appearance and health.

It can also tell us about our ancestry. To date, very few African individuals have been included in studies looking at genetic variation.

Studying African genomes not only fills a gap in the current understanding of human genetic variation but also reveals new insights into the history of African populations.

More than 50 different ethnolinguistic groups were represented in the study, one of the most diverse groups of Africans ever to be included in such an investigation.

We sequenced the whole genome of each of these individuals, this means we could read every part of the genome to look for variation.

We were able to show that Zambia was most probably an intermediate site on the likely route of migration from West Africa to East and Southern Africa.

This study contributes a major, new source of African genomic data, which showcases the complex and vast diversity of African genetic variation. And it will support research for decades to come.

Our findings have broad relevance, from learning more about African history and migration, to clinical research into the impact of specific variants on health outcomes.



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