The earliest Cape Muslims were brought to the Cape (Cape Town -South Africa) from Africa and Asia from 1652 to 1834. They were part of an involuntary migration of slaves, political prisoners and convicts, and they contributed to the ethnic diversity of the present Cape Muslim population of South Africa. The history of the Cape Muslims has been well documented and researched however no in-depth genetic studies have been undertaken. The aim of the present study was to determine the respective African, Asian and European contributions to the mtDNA (maternal) and Y-chromosomal (paternal) gene pool of the Cape Muslim population, by analyzing DNA samples of 100 unrelated Muslim males born in the Cape Metropolitan area. A panel of six mtDNA and eight Y-chromosome SNP markers were screened using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphisms (PCR-RFLP). Overall admixture estimates for the maternal line indicated Asian (0.4168) and African mtDNA (0.4005) as the main contributors. The admixture estimates for the paternal line, however, showed a predominance of the Asian contribution (0.7852). The findings are in accordance with historical data on the origins of the early Cape Muslims.
PCR-RFLP; genetic polymorphism; mitochondrial DNA; population genetic structure; chromosome variations