Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Genome Scan Shows Polynesians Have Little Genetic Relationship To Melanesians

18.01.2008
The origins and current genetic relationships of Pacific Islanders have generated interest and controversy for many decades. A new comprehensive genetic study of almost 1,000 individuals has now revealed that Polynesians and Micronesians have almost no genetic relation to Melanesians, and that groups that live in the islands of Melanesia are remarkably diverse.

The study, conducted by researchers from Temple University, University of Maryland, Yale University, Binghamton University, the Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Victoria University in New Zealand, Mackay Memorial Hospital in Taiwan, and the Institute for Medical Research in Papua New Guinea, is described in “The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders” in the January issue of PLoS Genetics (http://www.plosgenetics.org/).

The researchers analyzed more than 800 genetic markers (highly informative microsatellites) in nearly 1,000 individuals from 41 Pacific populations, as opposed to prior small-scale mitochondrial DNA or Y chromosome studies, which had produced conflicting results.

“The first settlers of Australia, New Guinea, and the large islands just to the east arrived between 50,000 and 30,000 years ago, when Neanderthals still roamed Europe,” says Jonathan Friedlaender, professor emeritus of anthropology at Temple and the study’s lead author. “These small groups were isolated and became extremely diverse during the following tens of thousands of years. Then, a little more than 3,000 years ago, the ancestors of the Polynesians and Micronesians, with their excellent sailing outrigger canoes, appeared in the islands of Melanesia, and during the following centuries settled the islands in the vast unknown regions of the central and eastern Pacific.”

... more about:
»Genetic »Melanesia »Polynesian »ancestors

He adds: “Over the last 20 years there have been many hypotheses concerning where the ancestors of the Polynesians came from in Asia, how long it took them to develop their special seafaring abilities in Island Melanesia, and how much they interacted with the native Melanesian peoples there before they commenced their remarkable Diaspora across the unexplored islands in the Pacific.”

According to Friedlaender, one scenario called the “fast train hypothesis,” which is supported by the mitochondrial evidence, suggests that ancestors of the Polynesians originated in Taiwan, moved through Indonesia to Island Melanesia, and then out into the unknown islands of the Pacific without having any significant contact with the Island Melanesians along the way.

A counter argument called “slow boat hypothesis,” which the Y chromosome evidence supports, suggests that the ancestors of the Polynesians were primarily Melanesians, and that there was very little Asian or Taiwanese influence. A third position, called the “entangled bank hypothesis,” suggests these ancient migrations simply cannot be accurately reconstructed by looking at the genetics of today’s populations, even in the context of the available archaeological evidence.

In their paper, the researchers state that their analysis is consistent with the scenario that the ancestors of Polynesians moved through Island Melanesia relatively rapidly and only intermixed to a very modest degree with the indigenous populations there.

“Our genetic analysis establishes that the Polynesians’ and Micronesians’ closest relationships are to Taiwan Aborigines and East Asians,” says Friedlaender. “Some groups in Island Melanesia who speak languages related to Polynesian, called Austronesian or Oceanic languages, do show a small Polynesian genetic contribution, but it is very minor – never more than 20 percent. There clearly was a lot of cultural and language influence that occurred, but the amount of genetic exchange between the groups along the way was remarkably low,” he says. “From the genetic perspective, if the ancestral train from the Taiwan vicinity to Polynesia wasn’t an express, very few passengers climbed aboard or got off along the way.”

Friedlaender adds that this study also confirms and expands their findings from previous studies about the genetic diversity of Island Melanesians – among the most genetically diverse people on the planet, showing further that their diversity is neatly organized by island, island size, topography and language families.

The study was funded by grants from the National Science Foundation, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, the National Geographic Society, The National Institutes of Health, Taiwan National Science Council, and Temple, Binghamton, and Yale Universities.

Andrew Hyde | alfa
Further information:
http://genetics.plos.org
http://www.plosgenetics.org/

Further reports about: Genetic Melanesia Polynesian ancestors

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Unique genome architectures after fertilisation in single-cell embryos
30.03.2017 | IMBA - Institut für Molekulare Biotechnologie der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften GmbH

nachricht Transport of molecular motors into cilia
28.03.2017 | Aarhus University

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A Challenging European Research Project to Develop New Tiny Microscopes

The Institute of Semiconductor Technology and the Institute of Physical and Theoretical Chemistry, both members of the Laboratory for Emerging Nanometrology (LENA), at Technische Universität Braunschweig are partners in a new European research project entitled ChipScope, which aims to develop a completely new and extremely small optical microscope capable of observing the interior of living cells in real time. A consortium of 7 partners from 5 countries will tackle this issue with very ambitious objectives during a four-year research program.

To demonstrate the usefulness of this new scientific tool, at the end of the project the developed chip-sized microscope will be used to observe in real-time...

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers shoot for success with simulations of laser pulse-material interactions

29.03.2017 | Materials Sciences

Igniting a solar flare in the corona with lower-atmosphere kindling

29.03.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

As sea level rises, much of Honolulu and Waikiki vulnerable to groundwater inundation

29.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>