The Genomic Impact of European Colonization of the Americas

Curr Biol. 2019 Dec 2;29(23):3974-3986.e4. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2019.09.076. Epub 2019 Nov 14.


The human genetic diversity of the Americas has been affected by several events of gene flow that have continued since the colonial era and the Atlantic slave trade. Moreover, multiple waves of migration followed by local admixture occurred in the last two centuries, the impact of which has been largely unexplored. Here, we compiled a genome-wide dataset of ∼12,000 individuals from twelve American countries and ∼6,000 individuals from worldwide populations and applied haplotype-based methods to investigate how historical movements from outside the New World affected (1) the genetic structure, (2) the admixture profile, (3) the demographic history, and (4) sex-biased gene-flow dynamics of the Americas. We revealed a high degree of complexity underlying the genetic contribution of European and African populations in North and South America, from both geographic and temporal perspectives, identifying previously unreported sources related to Italy, the Middle East, and to specific regions of Africa.

Keywords: Atlantic Slave Trade; European colonization; admixture history of the Americas; sex-biased admixture.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • American Native Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Blacks / genetics*
  • Caribbean Region
  • Central America
  • Gene Flow*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • North America
  • South America
  • Whites / genetics*