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Research Article

The Genetic Structure of Pacific Islanders

  • Jonathan S Friedlaender mail,

    To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: jfriedla@temple.edu

    Affiliation: Anthropology Department, Temple University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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  • Françoise R Friedlaender,

    Affiliation: Independent Researcher, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States of America

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  • Floyd A Reed,

    Affiliation: Department of Biology, University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland, United States of America

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  • Kenneth K Kidd,

    Affiliation: Department of Genetics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

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  • Judith R Kidd,

    Affiliation: Department of Genetics, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, United States of America

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  • Geoffrey K Chambers,

    Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

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  • Rodney A Lea,

    Affiliation: School of Biological Sciences, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand

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  • Jun-Hun Loo,

    Affiliation: Transfusion Medicine Laboratory, Mackay Memorial Hospital, Taipei, Taiwan

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  • George Koki,

    Affiliation: Institute for Medical Research, Goroka, Eastern Highlands Province, Papua New Guinea

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  • Jason A Hodgson,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, United States of America

    ¤ Current address: Center for the Study of Human Origins and the New York Consortium in Evolutionary Primatology, Department of Anthropology, New York University, New York, New York, United States of America

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  • D. Andrew Merriwether,

    Affiliation: Department of Anthropology, Binghamton University, Binghamton, New York, United States of America

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  • James L Weber

    Affiliation: Marshfield Clinic Research Foundation, Marshfield, Wisconsin, United States of America

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  • Published: January 18, 2008
  • DOI: 10.1371/journal.pgen.0040019

Reader Comments (4)

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Wonderful Study

Posted by maorimoa on 13 Aug 2010 at 15:31 GMT

I enjoyed this paper very much since I have been observing developments in this field for a few years. I do have one general question that the author(s) may kindly address for me. In the usual Y-Haplotype maps of the world (such as http://www.scs.uiuc.edu/~...) Y-Haplotype C is shown as being prominent in both Aborigines (70%) and Maoris (80%). In view of this article, I am baffled by this apparent common C ancestry. What are the hypotheses available to explain this? If I am understanding the general theory, the Aborigines arrived first into Australia, then the Papuans came to Melanesia, and then the Austronesians through Micronesia and into Polynesia and Aortorea. Based on this history it seems astonishing to me that there should be such a strong linkage between the Aboriginal and Maori Y-DNA.

No competing interests declared.

RE: Wonderful Study

jfriedla replied to maorimoa on 14 Aug 2010 at 15:33 GMT

Thanks for your interest. The short answer to your question is that Y haplogroup C is very old, widely dispersed through human populations, and has a variety of subdivisions. The Aboriginal subdivisions are quite different from the ones found in Polynesia and among the Maori. This is consistent with the distinctions found between them in the maternally inherited mtDNA, and more generally in genome scans of STRs and SNPs.
The prehistoric relations are now generally thought to be as follows: ancestors of the Aborigines and Papuans entered Sahul by 30,000 YBP and diversified shortly thereafter: the ancestors of the Polynesians passed along the north shore of New GUinea into Island Melanesia much later (around 3,300 YBP) and then began sailing effectively into "Remote Oceania" to Fiji, Tonga, and beyond and also north to Micronesian, in the next 500 years. Settlement of Aotearoa or New Zealand was considerably later, from the general vicinity of the Cook Islands. A lot of this is in our edited book, Genes, Language and Culture Change in the Southwest Pacific.

No competing interests declared.

RE: RE: Wonderful Study

Nguamlam replied to jfriedla on 18 Jan 2014 at 09:09 GMT

It should be recognised by now that the first entry into PNG/Australia/Sahul was probably well before 50,000YBP. Summerhayes work in the highlands of SE PNG indicates sophisticated behaviour and transfer of foods from the coast to the highlands circa 45-50,000YBP (http://www.odt.co.nz/camp...). It astounds me that no one takes into account that Papuan peoples were sailing to the Solomons circa 30,000YBP or before and perhaps more significantly, to Manus Island circa 25,000YBP (well out of sight of land). It is entirely possible they sailed the range of the saltwater crocodile - this extends into SE Asia. There may be some resistance to this idea but Polynesians are theorised to have followed the Whale routes to New Zealand. It can be inferred that Papuans had superior sailing technology well before the Polynesians came on the scene, in fact it may well be that the Polynesians were frightened, or very wary, of Papuan/Melanesian strength. Sufficient reason for them to develope deep ocean sailing and avoid the PNG mainland and the Bismark Archipelago and head for unoccupied Islands. I doubt that Lapita origin has anything to do with Polynesians. People are dangerous which could be why Papuans might have stopped long distance travel early (thousands of years ago), though it appears that they were still going to Tidore in the recent historical period and so probably dominated the people there and of course there are the recent links (in terms of Papuan time depth) between the Bismarks and the empty lands of Fiji and particularly with Vanuatu with it's Lapita, Boars tusks 'industry' and head elongation.

No competing interests declared.