There have been few genetic studies of normal variation in body size and composition conducted in Africa. In particular, the genetic determinants of somatotype remain to be established for an African population. (1) To estimate the heritabilities of aspects of somatotype and (2) to compare the quantitative genetic effects in an African population to those that have been assessed in European and American populations. The sample composed of 329 subjects (173 males and 156 females) aged 7-17 years, belonging to 132 families. The sibships in the sample ranged in size from two to seven individuals. All sampled individuals were residents of the Calanga region, an area located to the north of Maputo in Mozambique. Somatotype was assessed using the Heath-Carter technique. Herit abilities were estimated using SAGE software. Moderate heritabilities were determined for each trait. Between 30 and 40% of the variation in each somatotype measure was attributable to genetic factors. The heritability of ectomorphy was 31%. Mesomorphy was similarly moderately heritable, with ∼30% of the variation attributable to genetic factors. The heritability of endomorph was higher in the Calanga population (h2 = 0.40). Quantitative genetic analyses of somatotype variation among siblings indicate that genetic factors significantly influence endomorphy, mesomorhpy, and ectomorphy. However, environmental factors also have significant effects on the variation in physique present in the population of Calanga. Lack of proper nutrition, housing, medical assistance, and primary health care, together with very demanding and sex-specific daily chores may contribute to the environmental effects on these traits.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics