The genetic diversity of three peculiar populations descending from the slave trade: Gm study of Noir Marron from French Guiana

Laboratoire d'anthropologie moléculaire et imagerie de synthèse, FRE 2960, CNRS, université de Toulouse III, 37, allées Jules-Guesde, 31073 Toulouse, France.
Comptes rendus biologies (Impact Factor: 0.98). 10/2009; 332(10):917-26. DOI: 10.1016/j.crvi.2009.07.005
Source: PubMed


The Noir Marron communities are the direct descendants of African slaves brought to the Guianas during the four centuries (16th to 19th) of the Atlantic slave trade. Among them, three major ethnic groups have been studied: the Aluku, the Ndjuka and the Saramaka. Their history led them to share close relationships with Europeans and Amerindians, as largely documented in their cultural records. The study of Gm polymorphisms of immunoglobulins may help to estimate the amount of gene flow linked to these cultural exchanges. Surprisingly, very low levels of European contribution (2.6%) and Amerindian contribution (1.7%) are detected in the Noir Marron gene pool. On the other hand, an African contribution of 95.7% redraws their origin to West Africa (F(ST) < or = 0.15). This highly preserved African gene pool of the Noir Marron is unique in comparison to other African American populations of Latin America, who are notably more admixed.

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    • "Being one of the last known American maroon community, the Noir Marron are an important part this diversity [3]. A previous analysis of the Gm system showed their preserved African gene pool (>95%), revealing a first insight into their genetic originality in comparison with other neighbouring African American groups [7]. The present study, exploring three different genetic systems, strengthens this conclusion. "
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    ABSTRACT: Retracing the genetic histories of the descendant populations of the Slave Trade (16th-19th centuries) is particularly challenging due to the diversity of African ethnic groups involved and the different hybridisation processes with Europeans and Amerindians, which have blurred their original genetic inheritances. The Noir Marron in French Guiana are the direct descendants of maroons who escaped from Dutch plantations in the current day Surinam. They represent an original ethnic group with a highly blended culture. Uniparental markers (mtDNA and NRY) coupled with HTLV-1 sequences (env and LTR) were studied to establish the genetic relationships linking them to African American and African populations. All genetic systems presented a high conservation of the African gene pool (African ancestry: mtDNA = 99.3%; NRY = 97.6%; HTLV-1 env = 20/23; HTLV-1 LTR = 6/8). Neither founder effect nor genetic drift was detected and the genetic diversity is within a range commonly observed in Africa. Higher genetic similarities were observed with the populations inhabiting the Bight of Benin (from Ivory Coast to Benin). Other ancestries were identified but they presented an interesting sex-bias. Whilst male origins spread throughout the north of the bight (from Benin to Senegal), female origins were spread throughout the south (from the Ivory Coast to Angola). The Noir Marron are unique in having conserved their African genetic ancestry, despite major cultural exchanges with Amerindians and Europeans through inhabiting the same region for four centuries. Their maroon identity and the important number of slaves deported in this region have maintained the original African diversity. All these characteristics permit to identify a major origin located in the former region of the Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin; regions highly impacted by slavery, from which goes a sex-biased longitudinal gradient of ancestry.
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