1Department of Anthropology, Lab of Biological Anthropology, University of Kansas, 2Department of Anatomical Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide, Australia
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Previous studies of genetic diversity have suggested that the Cape Coloureds of South Africa are a highly admixed population with genetic roots from indigenous African groups including Khoisans, and the later arrival of Bantu speaking Xhosa farmers. Further genetic contributions came during European colonization of South Africa, which added to the inclusion of largely male European markers to the gene pool. Slaves from Indonesia, Malaysia, Madagascar and India are also thought to have contributed to the genetic makeup of this ethnic group. This study examines the maternal contribution of each of these groups to the genetic diversity of the Cape Coloreds through sequencing of the hypervariable region I of the mitochondrial DNA and through restriction fragment length polymorphism.
A total of 123 individuals were examined for this study. High frequencies of haplogroups L1 and L2 were found at 81.3 percent in this group (100 of the 123 individuals), which indicates that this group has a large African contribution to its mitochondrial makeup. Restrictions of the major European haplogroups identified nine individuals, 7.3 percent of the sample, belonged to haplogroups I and J. Five individuals (4.1 percent of the sample) belonged to the superhaplogroup M, indicating that Asian slaves did contribute to the maternal gene pool. The majority of maternal lineages in this Cape Coloured sample are African in origin, with some European influence and a small contribution from Asian maternal lineages.