Binary and microsatellite polymorphisms of the Y-chromosome in the mbenzele pygmies from the Central African Republic
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This study analyzes the variation of six binary polymorphisms and six microsatellites in the Mbenzele Pygmies from the Central African Republic. Five different haplogroups (B2b, E(xE3a), E3a, P and BR(xB2b,DE,P)) were observed, with frequencies ranging from 0.022 (haplogroup P) to 0.609 (haplogroup E3a). A comparison of haplogroup frequencies indicates a close genetic affinity between the Mbenzele and the Biaka Pygmies, a finding consistent with the common origin and the geographical proximity of the two populations. The haplogroups P, BR(xB2b,DE,P) and E(xE3a), which are rare in sub-Saharan Africa but common in western Eurasia, were observed with frequencies ranging from 0.022 (haplogroup P) to 0.087 (haplogroup E(xE3a)). Thirty different microsatellite haplotypes were detected, with frequencies ranging from 0.022 to 0.152. The Mbenzele share the highest percent of microsatellite haplotypes with the Biaka Pygmies. Five out seven haplotypes which are shared by the Mbenzele and Biaka Pygmies belong to haplogroup E3a, which suggests that they are of Bantu origin. The plot based on Fst genetic distances calculated using microsatellite data provides a picture of population relationships which is in part congruent and in part complementary to that obtained using haplogroup frequencies. Finally, the Mbenzele and Biaka Pygmies were found to be markedly more genetically similar using Y-chromosomal than autosomal microsatellites. We suggest that this could be due to the higher phylogenetic stability of Y-chromosome and to the effect of the male-biased gene flow during the Bantu expansion.