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Cabo Verde Ancestry Study Highlights Relationships Related to Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

Researchers reporting in eLife outline genetic admixture patterns in Cabo Verde, a group of European-colonized islands affected by the trans-Atlantic slave trade between the 15th and 19th centuries. Members of the team, based in the US, France, and Sweden, turned to array-based genotyping and available linguistic profiles to characterize more than 250 Kriolu-speaking individuals from Cabo Verde, identifying ancestry from Iberia and Western Africa, particularly ancestry stemming from Senegambian populations. When the authors incorporated language clues, meanwhile, they saw signs that genetic patterns tended to track with variations in the Kriolu language. "Our results illustrate how shifting sociocultural relationships between enslaved and non-enslaved communities during and after the [trans-Atlantic slave trade], shaped enslaved-African descendants' genomic diversity and structure on both sides of the Atlantic," they report, noting that their results suggest that "admixture occurred early on each island, long before the 18th century massive [trans-Atlantic slave trade] deportations triggered by the expansion of the plantation economy in Africa and the Americas, and after this era mostly during the abolition of the [trans-Atlantic slave trade] and of slavery in European colonial empires."