ABSTRACT: Located in the Sudan belt, the Chad Basin forms a remarkable ecosystem, where several unique agricultural and pastoral techniques have been developed. Both from an archaeological and a genetic point of view, this region has been interpreted to be the center of a bidirectional corridor connecting West and East Africa, as well as a meeting point for populations coming from North Africa through the Saharan desert.
Samples from twelve ethnic groups from the Chad Basin (n = 542) have been high-throughput genotyped for 230 coding region mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (mtSNPs) using Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time-Of-Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry. This set of mtSNPs allowed for much better phylogenetic resolution than previous studies of this geographic region, enabling new insights into its population history. Notable haplogroup (hg) heterogeneity has been observed in the Chad Basin mirroring the different demographic histories of these ethnic groups. As estimated using a Bayesian framework, nomadic populations showed negative growth which was not always correlated to their estimated effective population sizes. Nomads also showed lower diversity values than sedentary groups.
Compared to sedentary population, nomads showed signals of stronger genetic drift occurring in their ancestral populations. These populations, however, retained more haplotype diversity in their hypervariable segments I (HVS-I), but not their mtSNPs, suggesting a more ancestral ethnogenesis. Whereas the nomadic population showed a higher Mediterranean influence signaled mainly by sub-lineages of M1, R0, U6, and U5, the other populations showed a more consistent sub-Saharan pattern. Although lifestyle may have an influence on diversity patterns and hg composition, analysis of molecular variance has not identified these differences. The present study indicates that analysis of mtSNPs at high resolution could be a fast and extensive approach for screening variation in population studies where labor-intensive techniques such as entire genome sequencing remain unfeasible.
PLoS ONE 01/2011; 6(4):e18682. · 4.09 Impact Factor