According to our own anthropological examination data not shown , the non-sub-Saharan haplogroups are not carried by "West Eurasian-like" individuals, as might be anticipated, but were rather detected in common "Fulani type" peoples. The analyzed samples of the Fulani show levels of genetic diversity similar to those of their neighbors in the West African savanna and the Chad basin. However, like hunter-gatherers Pereira et al.
The Fulani's lower values of the raggedness index are also interesting in this regard. It can be hypothesized that the mating pattern is the main difference encountered between the nomadic and settled populations. Similar relationships have been observed in Africa between hunter-gatherers and farmers; Pygmies as hunter-gatherers , for example, offer their girls to neighboring food producers but do not obtain any girls in return Sebesta and Lebzelter ; Bailey , and for this reason their mtDNA gene pool remains constant and is gradually reduced over time-Pygmies mainly have the haplogroup L1c Destro-Bisol et al.
An even more remarkable reduction of genetic diversity can be observed among the Khoisan, another African hunter-gatherer population; their mtDNA gene pool contains mainly the haplogroups L0d and L0k, which occur in virtually no other populations Vigilant et al. These observations are probably not due to inconsistencies in the our field sampling strategy, because results consistent with the diversity levels of common African agricultural populations were obtained when the same field sampling strategy was used among sedentary Chadic-speaking peoples in northern Cameroon Cerny et al.
The samples of the studied Fulani groups differ from practically all the neighboring populations, the only exception being the recently settled one generation Fulani of Tcheboua, where three nonsignificant comparisons were observed. There is no differentiation from the Hausa, Fulbe, and Yoruba peoples reported from Niger and Nigeria by Watson et al. Some differences of the maternal gene pool between the nomadic and sedentary Fulani populations are also apparent from research conducted in physiological characteristics, for example, lactase persistence; the incidence of this trait among sedentary Fulani is far lower than among their nomadic counterparts Holden and Mace The genetic relationships of the sub-Saharan populations presented in this study, and particularly among the Wolof, Serer, Fulani, and Mandenka, are little different from those revealed by classic genetic polymorphisms Cavalli-Sforza et al.
As far as we are aware, however, the samples of Cavalli-Sforza and colleagues come mainly from settled Fulani populations. It is worth noting that, according to protein polymorphisms, the Fulani of Senegal are closer to the Wolof and Serer and more distant from the Mandenka Cavalli-Sforza et al. The similarity among the Fulani, Serer, and Wolof all from Senegal is so strong that these three groups even form a discrete cluster Cavalli-Sforza et al.
This does not correspond to the results of this study, which show that the mtDNA gene pool of the sampled nomadic Fulani is conspicuously different from that of the Serer and Wolof.
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The samples obtained from herding groups in the southern part of the Chad basin Chad and Cameroon and the West African savanna eastern and western Burkina Faso display perhaps closer relationships to the samples of the sedentary Mandenka, as suggested by the MDS constellation; a similar finding has also been reported by Rosa et al. Y-chromosome data of 22 African populations, including the Fulani from Burkina Faso and northern Cameroon, were analyzed by Cruciani et al.
The main result of Cruciani's study is that different populations from northern Cameroon Fali, Ouldeme, Daba, and some mixed samples reveal traces of backmigration from Asia to Africa because of a high proportion of haplotype However, the Fulani sample from northern Cameroon considered by Cruciani and colleagues shows a rather low frequency of this haplotype, and the Fulani, which have a high frequency of haplotype 43, are situated as outliers.
Cruciani et al. In the introduction we mentioned several hypotheses for the origin of the nomadic Fulani. One well-known hypothesis is that the Fulani come from the Nile valley e. Admixture analysis, however, does not exclude the possible parental role of the Nilotic populations because the admixture coefficient for these populations is high. It is necessary to state that the conclusiveness of this finding is rather low.
Further geographic sampling, particularly from Niger and other parts of the Sudanic belt of Africa, is needed to acquire a deeper insight into the genetic structure of the nomadic people of the African Sahel. Acknowledgments We wish to express our gratitude to the volunteers for their confidence and their helpful participation in the study. Received 25 July ; revision received 23 November Literature Cited Alves-Silva, J.
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