Harvard University’s School of Public Health has concluded a genetic study on Black American heritage. Using a technique known as ‘gene expression’, researchers were able to conclude that most Black Americans have some European ancestry. According to the study the average Black American today has an ancestry of 80% African, with the remaining 20% most likely white European.
The technique of gene expression used by the researchers measures the amount of protein produced in cells. Cell protein is a product of both genetic and environmental factors and can be used with statistical analysis to trace the ancestry of large groups.
Most of the race mixing is thought to have occurred during the period when slavery was legal in the United States. Slavery began soon after Virginia was settle by English colonists in 1607 and lasted for 250 years until abolished in 1865. During this period , an estimated 12 million Africans were shipped to the Americans (mostly to Brazil) to support agricultural production. The 1860 US census records almost four million slaves residents in the United States, representing over twelve percent of the total population. Full link noted above.
Citation: Price AL, Patterson N, Hancks DC, Myers S, Reich D, Cheung VG, et al. (2008) Effects of cis and trans Genetic Ancestry on Gene Expression in African Americans. PLoS Genet 4(12): e1000294. doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1000294
Editor: Greg Gibson, The University of Queensland, Australia