Genetic Consequences of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in the Americas
journal contributionposted on 18.03.2021, 12:28 by Steven J Micheletti, Kasia Bryc, Samantha G Ancona Esselmann, William A Freyman, Meghan E Moreno, G David Poznik, Anjali J Shastri, Sandra Beleza, Joanna L Mountain, M Agee, S Aslibekyan, A Auton, R Bell, S Clark, S Das, S Elson, K Fletez-Brant, P Fontanillas, P Gandhi, K Heilbron, B Hicks, D Hinds, K Huber, E Jewett, Y Jiang, A Kleinman, K Lin, N Litterman, J McCreight, M McIntyre, K McManus, S Mozaffari, P Nandakumar, L Noblin, C Northover, J O’Connell, A Petrakovitz, S Pitts, J Shelton, S Shringarpure, C Tian, J Tung, R Tunney, V Vacic, X Wang, A Zare
According to historical records of transatlantic slavery, traders forcibly deported an estimated 12.5 million people from ports along the Atlantic coastline of Africa between the 16th and 19th centuries, with global impacts reaching to the present day, more than a century and a half after slavery’s abolition. Such records have fueled a broad understanding of the forced migration from Africa to the Americas yet remain underexplored in concert with genetic data. Here, we analyzed genotype array data from 50,281 research participants, which—combined with historical shipping documents—illustrate that the current genetic landscape of the Americas is largely concordant with expectations derived from documentation of slave voyages. For instance, genetic connections between people in slave trading regions of Africa and disembarkation regions of the Americas generally mirror the proportion of individuals forcibly moved between those regions. While some discordances can be explained by additional records of deportations within the Americas, other discordances yield insights into variable survival rates and timing of arrival of enslaved people from specific regions of Africa. Furthermore, the greater contribution of African women to the gene pool compared to African men varies across the Americas, consistent with literature documenting regional differences in slavery practices. This investigation of the transatlantic slave trade, which is broad in scope in terms of both datasets and analyses, establishes genetic links between individuals in the Americas and populations across Atlantic Africa, yielding a more comprehensive understanding of the African roots of peoples of the Americas.