Scientists from around the globe have been studying the historical genomic ramifications of the Transatlantic Slave Trade, which kidnapped more than nine million Africans from the mainland and shipped them to the Americas between the 1500s and 1800s, publishing a new study in the Journal of Molecular Biology and Evolution on March 3, 2020.

Using data from more than 6,000 people from 25 populations, as well as the Slave Voyages database, researchers studied how different African groups contributed to the Americas as well as Caribbean populations and found that West and Central African ancestry are stronger in the North Americas, as opposed to the South, which shows roots stretching to southern and eastern Africa. In addition, when the slave trade really ramped up between 1750 and 1850, the researchers note an uptick in what they called “ intercontinental admixture,” which essentially led to the creation of a new gene pool in the New World. 

“Interestingly, Africans are the most diverse human populations from the genetical point of view, and during the Transatlantic Slave Trade, this rich African genetic diversity has not been lost, but has arrived to the Americas and is present in African Americans and Hispanics/Latinos,” lead author Eduardo Tarazona-Santos, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais in Brazil, explained in the press release published March 3.

“On the other hand, during the last 500 years, in the Americas, people of different African origins and from different populations have admixed more in the Americas than in Africa.”

The researchers hope that the study will help to explain the never-ending debates in the Americas around social, cultural, and political ancestry and race.

To access a PDF of the complete study, go to Phys.org.