About This Project
Welcome to our citizen-science research project on haplogroup A00 in Cameroon! Having successfully sampled the Bangwa, Mbo, and Bamileke, we'll be launching our third trip to sample Banyang and Ejagham people from Western Cameroon.
A00 is the earliest known branch on the human Y-chromosome, paternal phylo-tree. Project coordinator Bonnie Schrack led the team that discovered it in a member of the Perry family in 2012.
Ask the ScientistsJoin The Discussion
What is the context of this research?
Do you enjoy learning about your father's lineage and its place in world history? Curious about human origins? Join in our journey of discovery to shed light on the mystery of A00, the very earliest branch of our Y-DNA family tree.
Our first field trip was a big success! Matthew collected 204 Bangwa and Mbo samples, and we found that 35 of them belonged to A00! Our second field trip yielded 206 more samples, still to be tested.
We'll now look for A00 samples among the Banyang and Ejagham, further West, on the way to Nigeria.
Why? Many are curious whether there could be a connection between A00 and the archaic admixture in a human skull from Iwo Eleru, Nigeria. And histories of the Bangwa say that some of their ancestors may been Banyang. Will we be able to find any A00 among them?
What is the significance of this project?
In these times of international conflict and distrust, it's easy to forget that we're all members of one human family springing from a common root in Africa. We also easily forget the difficult struggles of our African brothers and sisters. We hope this joint Cameroonian-American project will be a reminder of our shared origins, and a bridge connecting us with Africa, humanity's homeland.
We hope that through this international citizen science project, Cameroon's unparalleled biodiversity, and its wealth of diverse peoples, will gain more recognition, while our supporters become more aware of the challenges faced by its people. There are many ways you can get involved and help.
Our Facebook page is a great place to learn more, stay in touch, and build community. Join us!
What are the goals of the project?
We hope to:
1. Discover A00's distribution and the diversity within it;
2. Reveal its inner structure and estimate the dates of its internal branching;
3. Estimate the date of its MRCA with other Y lineages;
4. Analyze correlations of A00's distribution with geographic and ethnic data;
5. Advance the development of high-quality citizen science.
The draft A00 tree at the end of this page shows some of the new branches we've been discovering.
Our objectives right now are to test the new samples Matthew has just collected from dispersed Bangwa villages, and from the Bamileke just to their East. Matthew, meanwhile, will be setting out on his western trip.
We're planning one more major field trip, to the East of Cameroon, to sample three different "Pygmy" peoples, the Baka, Gyele (Bakola) and Bedzan.
These budget items should allow us to:
- test the samples now waiting at YSEQ's lab in Berlin
- launch Matthew on his next field trip
Notes on budget items:
- YSEQ is run by our good friends and advisers, Thomas and Astrid Krahn.
- Road travel in rural Cameroon is extremely rough and challenging, vehicles often getting stuck, and this requires hiring drivers experienced in navigating such conditions.
- Our donors are very appreciative of the Polaroid snapshots that Matthew gives them with as a thank-you for donating their DNA for research.
- Our questionnaires allow us to gather a rich trove of data about each donor: his and his parents and grandparents' residences, birthplaces, 1st and 2nd languages, ethnic group, etc.
- Shipping the samples by DHL isn't cheap, but it's the only way we've found that guarantees safe and relatively quick delivery between Cameroon and Germany.
- YSEQ's Alpha Panel includes 16 markers, but two of them have two parts, so they're commonly counted as 18 in total.
Meet the Team
Bonnie Schrack & Matthew Fomine Forka
Bonnie and Matthew got to know each other as a result of our first paper on A00, "An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree," of which we were both co-authors.
Matthew was the collector of the original Mbo DNA samples from Cameroon, which testing found to belong to the same extraordinary branch as the unique Y chromosome that we had discovered in the U.S.
Bonnie had organized the testing of the members of the A Haplogroup Project, including the Perry family, leading to the discovery of A00 in their Y-DNA.
We could see that the mere discovery of A00's existence was only the first step; so much more can be learned. We decided to work together to collect DNA samples from key ethnic groups across Cameroon, which could give a far more complete picture of A00's distribution, frequency, and diversity, leading to a clearer understanding of its role in human history.
Nothing posted yet.
We have a perk to offer our donors!
Backers will get early access to our complete Y-STR dataset. Not only will you see the newest data from our A00 samples, but lots more valuable information from all the other samples collected in Cameroon, that both citizen scientists and professionals can use in cutting-edge research.
There are hundreds of Cameroonian haplogroup E samples, but also several rare jewels like A0, B etc. that we haven't yet analyzed, as they aren't the primary focus of our study. Every serious researcher on African haplogroups will want this! Our data will be a gold mine for anyone studying lineages of African origin, which can be compared with these haplotypes.
We'll make the data freely available once our study is complete, but you, as a supporter, will see it first.
Working Draft Phylogeny of A00:
This diagram shows the branches internal to A00 that we've found so far. Of the A00 samples from our first field trip, we believe 27 to be A00a, but we couldn't get clear SNP test results for a couple of them, so for now, we're only counting the 25 that are very clear.
As you can see, the Perry family seems closely related to the Bangwa, rather than to the Mbo.
We'll be carrying out whole Y-chromosome sequencing of sample #3086, to discover all the mutations unique to his lineage, so we can add that branch to the tree. With any luck, more of these branches will be discovered as our project progresses. We hope that when we arrive at an estimate of when all A00's branches diverged from one another, it will give us clues about A00's population history, origins and migrations.
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