Integrative Genomic Studies of Adaptive Traits in Africa
ABSTRACT: Africa is thought to be the ancestral homeland of all modern human populations. It is also a region of tremendous cultural, linguistic, climatic, and genetic diversity. Despite the important role that African populations have played in human history, they remain one of the most underrepresented groups in human genomics studies. A comprehensive knowledge of patterns of variation in African genomes is critical for a deeper understanding of human genomic diversity, the identification of functionally important genetic variation, the genetic basis of adaptation to diverse environments and diets, and the origins of modern humans. Furthermore, a deeper understanding of African genomic variation will provide the necessary foundation for powerful and efficient genome-wide association and systems biology studies to identify coding and regulatory variants that play a role in phenotypic variation including disease susceptibility. We have used whole genome SNP genotyping, high coverage genomic and transcriptomic sequencing analyses to characterize patterns of genomic variation, ancestry, and local adaptation across ethnically and geographically diverse African populations. We have identified candidate loci that play a role in adaptation to infectious disease, diet and high altitude, as well as the short stature trait in African Pygmies. Additionally, our studies shed light on human evolutionary history and African population history.