A genetic and linguistic analysis of the admixture histories of the islands of Cabo Verde

Romain Laurent, Zachary A. Szpiech, Sergio S. da Costa, Valentin Thouzeau, Cesar A. Fortes-Lima, Françoise Dessarps-Freichey, Laure Lémée, José Utgé, Noah A. Rosenberg, Marlyse Baptista, Paul Verdu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


From the 15th to the 19th century, the Trans-Atlantic Slave-Trade (TAST) influenced the genetic and cultural diversity of numerous populations. We explore genomic and linguistic data from the nine islands of Cabo Verde, the earliest European colony of the era in Africa, a major Slave-Trade platform between the 16th and 19th centuries, and a previously uninhabited location ideal for investigating early admixture events between Europeans and Africans. Using local-ancestry inference approaches, we find that genetic admixture in Cabo Verde occurred primarily between Iberian and certain Senegambian populations, although forced and volun-tary migrations to the archipelago involved numerous other populations. Inter-individual genetic and linguistic variation recapitulates the geographic distribution of individuals’ birth-places across Cabo Verdean is-lands, following an isolation-by-distance model with reduced genetic and linguistic effective dispersals within the archipelago, and suggesting that Kriolu language variants have developed together with genetic diver-gences at very reduced geographical scales. Furthermore, based on approximate bayesian computation infer-ences of highly complex admixture histories, we find that admixture occurred early on each island, long be-fore the 18th-century massive TAST deportations triggered by the expansion of the plantation economy in Africa and the Americas, and after this era mostly during the abolition of the TAST and of slavery in European colonial empires. Our results illustrate how shifting socio-cultural relationships between enslaved and non-enslaved communities during and after the TAST, shaped enslaved-African descendants’ genomic diversity and structure on both sides of the Atlantic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere79827
StatePublished - 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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