The black pages of colonial history investigated through the genomic analysis of African rice

Sprouting black rice, Oryza glaberrima

Suriname is home to a large community of Maroons, descendants of enslaved Africans who escaped the plantations during colonial times. The Maroons have many traditions that connect them to Africa. An important one for their survival is their long traditional farming history of African (black) rice, Oryza glaberrima. These African rice varieties were carried overseas by slave ships during colonial times, but we do not exactly know from which African countries.

Maroon woman harvesting rice
Maroon woman harvesting rice


Dr. Marieke van de Loosdrecht
Prof. Dr. Eric Schranz (Biosystematics), Prof. Dr. Tinde van Andel (Naturalis)


Period and duration

Start Date: January or February 2023 (or later)
End date: to be decided (24 or 36 ECTS)


Naturalis (Leiden) and Biosystematics Group, Wageningen University

Study and level

Bioinformatics/Biology, MSc

and goals

The objective of this project is to trace the geographical origin of the African rice varieties that are currently grown by the Maroons, using population genomics approaches.

and approach

During this internship project you will:

1) Analyse the population genomic structure of African (black) rice varieties with various clustering methods (e.g.: principal component analysis, ADMIXTURE)

2) Compare the genomic ancestry of the African rice varieties from Maroon communities in Suriname to varieties in Africa to find the closest genomic relatives with Patterson F-statistics.

3) Interpret and modify bash scripts bash for running genomic analyses, and R scripts for plotting figures (please bring some knowledge and/or a lot of motivation to learn this).


Basic knowledge of (population) genomics, bioinformatics (unix, R), an interest in and willingness to learn about colonial history and Suriname, and looking for an academic challenge.