Loh Lab

The genetic prehistory of southern Africa


Pickrell JK, Patterson N, Barbieri C, Berthold F, Gerlach L, Güldemann T, Kure B, Mpoloka SW, Nakagawa H, Naumann C, Lipson M, Loh P-R, Lachance J, Mountain J, Bustamante CD, Berger B, Tishkoff SA, Henn BM, Stoneking M, Reich D, Pakendorf B. The genetic prehistory of southern Africa. Nat Commun 2012;3:1143.

Date Published:



Southern and eastern African populations that speak non-Bantu languages with click consonants are known to harbour some of the most ancient genetic lineages in humans, but their relationships are poorly understood. Here, we report data from 23 populations analysed at over half a million single-nucleotide polymorphisms, using a genome-wide array designed for studying human history. The southern African Khoisan fall into two genetic groups, loosely corresponding to the northwestern and southeastern Kalahari, which we show separated within the last 30,000 years. We find that all individuals derive at least a few percent of their genomes from admixture with non-Khoisan populations that began ∼1,200 years ago. In addition, the East African Hadza and Sandawe derive a fraction of their ancestry from admixture with a population related to the Khoisan, supporting the hypothesis of an ancient link between southern and eastern Africa.

Last updated on 08/06/2017