Human Genetics

, Volume 115, Issue 5, pp 439–447 | Cite as

Insights into the western Bantu dispersal: mtDNA lineage analysis in Angola

  • Stéphanie Plaza
  • Antonio Salas
  • Francesc Calafell
  • Francisco Corte-Real
  • Jaume Bertranpetit
  • Ángel Carracedo
  • David Comas
Original Investigation


Africa is the homeland of humankind and it is known to harbour the highest levels of human genetic diversity. However, many continental regions, especially in the sub-Saharan side, still remain largely uncharacterized (i.e. southwest and central Africa). Here, we examine the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variation in a sample from Angola. The two mtDNA hypervariable segments as well as the 9-bp tandem repeat on the COII/tRNAlys intergenic region have allowed us to allocate mtDNAs to common African haplogroups. Angola lies in the southern end of the putative western branch of the Bantu expansion, where it met the local Khoisan populations. Angolan mtDNA lineages show basically a Bantu substrate with no traces of Khoisan lineages. Roughly, more than half of the southwestern mtDNA pool can be assigned to west Africa, ~25% to central Africa and a significant 16% to east Africa, which points to the western gene pool having contributed most to the mtDNA lineages in Angola. We have also detected signals of extensive gene flow from southeast Africa. Our results suggest that eastern and western Bantu expansion routes were not independent from each other, and were connected south of the rainforest and along the southern African savannah. In agreement with historical documentation, the analysis also showed that the Angola mtDNA genetic pool shows affinities with the African lineages from Brazil, the main American destination of the slaves from Angola, although not all lineages in Brazil can be accounted for by the Angolan mtDNA pool.


Slave Trade Haplogroup Frequency Bantu Language African Lineage Hypervariable Segment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



We would like to thank Mònica Vallés, Òscar Lao, and Gemma Berniell, Universitat Pompeu Fabra, for technical assistance, suggestions, and careful reading of the manuscript. We would also like to thank three anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. The present study was supported by the Dirección General de Investigación, Ministerio de Ciencia y Tecnología, Spain (BOS2001-0794 and BFF2002-10206-E), Direcció General de Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya (2001SGR00285), and Ministerio de Sanidad y Consumo (FIS 2003/PF012). The research presented in this article is supported by the framework of the European Science Foundation EUROCORES programme “The Origin of Man, Language and Languages”. S.P. received a fellowship from the Direcció General de Recerca, Generalitat de Catalunya (2000FI00696). A.S. is supported by the Isidro Parga Pondal program.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stéphanie Plaza
    • 1
  • Antonio Salas
    • 2
  • Francesc Calafell
    • 1
  • Francisco Corte-Real
    • 3
  • Jaume Bertranpetit
    • 1
  • Ángel Carracedo
    • 2
  • David Comas
    • 1
  1. 1.Unitat de Biologia Evolutiva, Facultat de Ciències de la Salut I de la VidaUniversitat Pompeu FabraBarcelonaSpain
  2. 2.Unidad de Genética, Instituto de Medicina LegalUniversidad de Santiago de CompostelaGaliciaSpain
  3. 3.Instituto de Medicina LegalServicio de Biología ForenseCoimbraPortugal

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