Project 10: The genetic legacy of the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Europe

Fellow:  Petr Triska
Supervision:  Dr. Luisa Pereira
Host Institution:  Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular, University of Porto
Duration:  3 years – starting from 1 June 2012

This project aims to investigate the genetic legacy of the transatlantic slave trade in southern European populations, tracing back to the introduction of African people into Europe from the 15th century onwards. The focus will be on the Iberian Peninsula, which we already know displays one of the highest genetic frequencies of maternal sub-Saharan lineages (haplogroups L0-6) in Europe, with particular prevalence in southern Portugal. Curiously, sub-Saharan male lineages are minimal, suggesting a strong bias towards women in a historical mixed mating system. This frequency of maternal sub-Saharan lineages decreases towards Eastern Europe.

Using next generation technologies the project seeks to better understand the legacies of cultural encounters in Europe by investigating the genetic admixture between African and European populations based on genome-wide data, collected in fieldwork studies and from established research literature. Using African comparative data the project will screen the 2.5 million SNPs (Illumina platform) in the Sahel region – geographically encompassing populations across from West to East Africa. We hope that this research will contribute to improved knowledge about African genetic diversity. Furthermore, as a case study, the project will screen a modern population from South Portugal, which demonstrates the highest level of admixture between African and European people.

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