Genetic Chaos

Monday, May 17, 2004

Maori Origins, Y-Chromosome Haplotypes and Implications for Human History in the Pacific

An assessment of 28 pertinent binary genetic markers on the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome (NRY) in New Zealand Maori and other relevant populations has revealed a diverse genetic paternal heritage of extant Maori. A maximum parsimony phylogeny was constructed in which nine of the 25 possible binary haplotypes were observed. Although ~40% of the samples have haplotypes of unequivocal European origin, an equivalent number of samples have a single binary haplotype that is also observed in Indonesia and New Guinea, indicative of common indigenous Melanesian ancestry. The balance of the lineages has either typical East Asian signatures or alternative compositions consistent with their affinity to Melanesia or New Guinea. Molecular analysis of mtDNA variation confirms the presence of a single predominant characteristic Southeast Asian (9-bp deletion in the Region V) lineage. The Y-chromosome results support a pattern of complex interrelationships between Southeast Asia, Melanesia, and Polynesia, in contrast to mtDNA and linguistic data, which uphold a rapid and homogeneous Austronesian expansion. The Y-chromosome data highlight a distinctive gender-modulated pattern of differential gene flow in the history of Polynesia.

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