The first two authors contributed equally to this work.
Indirect evidence for the genetic determination of short stature in African Pygmies
Article first published online: 3 MAY 2011
Copyright © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 145, Issue 3, pages 390–401, July 2011
How to Cite
Becker, N. S.A., Verdu, P., Froment, A., Le Bomin, S., Pagezy, H., Bahuchet, S. and Heyer, E. (2011), Indirect evidence for the genetic determination of short stature in African Pygmies. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 145: 390–401. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21512
- Issue published online: 14 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 MAY 2011
- Manuscript Received: 10 AUG 2010
- Manuscript Accepted: 24 JAN 2010
- CNRS ACI
- “Histoire et diversité génétique des Pygmées d'Afrique Centrale et de leurs voisins,”
- “Génétique des populations humaines,”
- Bourse MENRT
- human population genetics;
Central African Pygmy populations are known to be the shortest human populations worldwide. Many evolutionary hypotheses have been proposed to explain this short stature: adaptation to food limitations, climate, forest density, or high mortality rates. However, such hypotheses are difficult to test given the lack of long-term surveys and demographic data. Whether the short stature observed nowadays in African Pygmy populations as compared to their Non-Pygmy neighbors is determined by genetic factors remains widely unknown. Here, we study a uniquely large new anthropometrical dataset comprising more than 1,000 individuals from 10 Central African Pygmy and neighboring Non-Pygmy populations, categorized as such based on cultural criteria rather than height. We show that climate, or forest density may not play a major role in the difference in adult stature between existing Pygmies and Non-Pygmies, without ruling out the hypothesis that such factors played an important evolutionary role in the past. Furthermore, we analyzed the relationship between stature and neutral genetic variation in a subset of 213 individuals and found that the Pygmy individuals' stature was significantly positively correlated with levels of genetic similarity with the Non-Pygmy gene-pool for both men and women. Overall, we show that a Pygmy individual exhibiting a high level of genetic admixture with the neighboring Non-Pygmies is likely to be taller. These results show for the first time that the major morphological difference in stature found between Central African Pygmy and Non-Pygmy populations is likely determined by genetic factors. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.