The history of african gene flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines, and Jews

Priya Moorjani, Nick Patterson, Joel N. Hirschhorn, Alon Keinan, Li Hao, Gil Atzmon, Edward Burns, Harry Ostrer, Alkes L. Price, David Reich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

128 Scopus citations

Abstract

Previous genetic studies have suggested a history of sub-Saharan African gene flow into some West Eurasian populations after the initial dispersal out of Africa that occurred at least 45,000 years ago. However, there has been no accurate characterization of the proportion of mixture, or of its date. We analyze genome-wide polymorphism data from about 40 West Eurasian groups to show that almost all Southern Europeans have inherited 1%-3% African ancestry with an average mixture date of around 55 generations ago, consistent with North African gene flow at the end of the Roman Empire and subsequent Arab migrations. Levantine groups harbor 4%-15% African ancestry with an average mixture date of about 32 generations ago, consistent with close political, economic, and cultural links with Egypt in the late middle ages. We also detect 3%-5% sub-Saharan African ancestry in all eight of the diverse Jewish populations that we analyzed. For the Jewish admixture, we obtain an average estimated date of about 72 generations. This may reflect descent of these groups from a common ancestral population that already had some African ancestry prior to the Jewish Diasporas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere1001373
JournalPLoS genetics
Volume7
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 1 2011

    Fingerprint

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)
  • Cancer Research

Cite this

Moorjani, P., Patterson, N., Hirschhorn, J. N., Keinan, A., Hao, L., Atzmon, G., Burns, E., Ostrer, H., Price, A. L., & Reich, D. (2011). The history of african gene flow into Southern Europeans, Levantines, and Jews. PLoS genetics, 7(4), [e1001373]. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pgen.1001373