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A Study of Y-Chromosome Microsatellite Variation in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Comparison between F ST and R ST Genetic Distances

Seven Y-chromosome microsatellite loci (DYS19, DYS389I, DYS389II, DYS390, DYS391, DYS392, and DYS393) were analyzed in three populations from sub-Saharan Africa: the Bamileke and Ewondo populations from Cameroon and the Hutu from Rwanda. Complete typing was obtained for 112 individuals, and a total of 53 different haplotypes was observed. The single-locus gene diversity, averaged across populations, ranges from 0.100 for the DYS392 locus to 0.610 for the DYS389I locus. The haplotype diversity ranges from 0.832 (Ewondo) to 0.965 (Hutu), with an intermediate value of 0.918 in the Bamileke. The diversity among Bamileke, Ewondo, Hutu, and other sub-Saharan populations selected from the literature was analyzed using both a classical (FST) and a stepwise-based (RST) genetic distance method. The pattern of interpopulational diversity based on FST was congruent with anthropological knowledge, while that based on RST revealed unexpected and unconvincing population affinities. From a practical point of view, our study indicates that Y-chromosome microsatellite data may provide useful information for analyses of interpopulational diversity among sub-Saharan populations if an adequate number of loci and individuals along with an appropriate genetic distance method are used. On a theoretical ground, we propose that the lesser performance of RST compared to FST could be explained by the important role played by genetic drift in shaping the relationships among examined populations.