Reconstructing an African haploid genome from the 18th century

Nat Genet. 2018 Feb;50(2):199-205. doi: 10.1038/s41588-017-0031-6. Epub 2018 Jan 15.


A genome is a mosaic of chromosome fragments from ancestors who existed some arbitrary number of generations earlier. Here, we reconstruct the genome of Hans Jonatan (HJ), born in the Caribbean in 1784 to an enslaved African mother and European father. HJ migrated to Iceland in 1802, married and had two children. We genotyped 182 of his 788 descendants using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) chips and whole-genome sequenced (WGS) 20 of them. Using these data, we reconstructed 38% of HJ's maternal genome and inferred that his mother was from the region spanned by Benin, Nigeria and Cameroon.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Case Reports
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Blacks / genetics*
  • Enslaved Persons*
  • Family Characteristics / history
  • Genome, Human*
  • Genome-Wide Association Study / methods
  • Haploidy*
  • History, 18th Century
  • Humans
  • Iceland
  • Male
  • Pedigree*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Transients and Migrants
  • West Indies

Personal name as subject

  • Hans Jonatan