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25 June 2017 02:00 (South Africa)

More precise DNA tests from Africa may help diaspora trace ancestry

A company that pioneered DNA testing is starting a new African genetic mapping project to track migration patterns over the centuries and assist African Americans to connect with their roots. Family Tree DNA and its partners plan to collect samples from specific ethnic groups in West Africa. This project, with Boston-based AfricanDNA.com, will begin with five  ethnic groups in Ghana that provided slaves during the Atlantic slave-trade era. Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. helped found AfricanDNA.com. Bennett Greenspan of Family Tree DNA explains, “If we find individuals who match people from Africa, from particular countries and from particular tribes or ethnicities, then we have a much better idea that an individual in America is probably a descendant of people from that particular ethnicity.” Greenspan says they are narrowing the focus to a few ethnicities because newly obtained data from ship logbooks listed the groups from which they obtained slaves. He says they are providing free testing kits and the samples will add to Family Tree's and AfricanDNA.com’s databases. The test kit uses a cotton swab to collect cells from the mouth to check genetic material for maternal and paternal lines. For more: Voice of America

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