October 20, 2010

African ancestry of the Noir Marron of the Guianas

The Noir Marron are a population of African descent from Suriname and French Guiana. Their history is defined by their origins as slaves but also by their successful rebellion that allowed them to live freely most of the time in the Amazon jungle. They are one of the largest surviving maroon communities of America.


The people have 99% African ancestry by the maternally-inherited mitochondrial  DNA and more than 97% by the paternally inherited Y-DNA and retain high genetic diversity (unlike other maroon groups, such as those of Honduras). However there are gender-bias differences on the most common apparent origins in Africa.

While for both unilineages the main ancestry seems to be in the Eastern part of West Africa, between Ivory Coast and Nigeria, the patrilineages show a secondary strong preference for Westernmost Africa (around Senegal and Sierra Leone), while the matrilineages have a strong component from SW Africa instead. Their traditions have most in common with the Fanti-Ashanti ones of modern Ghana and surroundings.
mtDNA affinity (Fst)
Y-DNA affinity (Fst)

Maternal lineages (mtDNA, table 2) have the strongest ancestral pools in middle West Africa ('Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin'), 29%, and SW Africa, 26%. While other regions had some founder roles too, there are no shared lineages with North Africa, South Africa, East Africa nor Pygmies.

Paternal lineages (Y-DNA, table 3) show instead a strong preference for West Africa with 'Gold Coast and the Bight of Benin' at 28% and 'Windward Coast, Senegambia and Sierra Leone' at 25%. Again no Pygmy, North, East or South African lineages are detected.

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