Molecular genetics and genomics : MGG 2017 02 22() doi 10.1007/s00438-017-1296-2
The KhoeSan populations are the earliest known indigenous inhabitants of southern Africa. The relatively recent expansion of Bantu-speaking agropastoralists, as well as European colonial settlement along the south-west coast, dramatically changed patterns of genetic diversity in a region which had been largely isolated for thousands of years. Owing to this unique history, population structure in southern Africa reflects both the underlying KhoeSan genetic diversity as well as differential recent admixture. This population structure has a wide range of biomedical and sociocultural implications; such as changes in disease risk profiles. Here, we consolidate information from various population genetic studies that characterize admixture patterns in southern Africa with an aim to better understand differences in adverse disease phenotypes observed among groups. Our review confirms that ancestry has a direct impact on an individual’s immune response to infectious diseases. In addition, we emphasize the importance of collaborative research, especially for populations in southern Africa that have a high incidence of potentially fatal infectious diseases such as HIV and tuberculosis.