March 01, 2008

mtDNA of Karkar Islanders

Info on Karkar Island in Wikipedia.

Ann Hum Genet. 2008 Feb 28 [Epub ahead of print]

Mitochondrial DNA Variation in Karkar Islanders.

Ricaut FX, Thomas T, Arganini C, Staughton J, Leavesley M, Bellatti M, Foley R, Mirazon Lahr M.

We analyzed 375 base pairs (bp) of the first hypervariable region (HVS-I) of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region and intergenic COII/tRNA(Lys) 9-bp deletion from 47 Karkar Islanders (north coast of Papua New Guinea) belonging to the Waskia Papuan language group. To address questions concerning the origin and evolution of this population we compared the Karkar mtDNA haplotypes and haplogroups to those of neighbouring East Asians and Oceanic populations. The results of the phylogeographic analysis show grouping in three different clusters of the Karkar Islander mtDNA lineages: one group of lineages derives from the first Pleistocene settlers of New Guinea-Island Melanesia, a second set derives from more recent arrivals of Austronesian speaking populations, and the third contains lineages specific to the Karkar Islanders, but still rooted to Austronesian and New Guinea-Island Melanesia populations. Our results suggest (i) the absence of a strong association between language and mtDNA variation and, (ii) reveal that the mtDNA haplogroups F1a1, M7b1 and E1a, which probably originated in Island Southeast Asia and may be considered signatures of Austronesian population movements, are preserved in the Karkar Islanders but absent in other New Guinea-Island Melanesian populations. These findings indicate that the Karkar Papuan speakers retained a certain degree of their own genetic uniqueness and a high genetic diversity. We present a hypothesis based on archaeological, linguistic and environmental datasets to argue for a succession of (partial) depopulation and repopulation and expansion events, under conditions of structured interaction, which may explain the variability expressed in the Karkar mtDNA.

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1 comment:

Richard said...

This is interesting because Karkar Island is a ******* great
volcano inhabited by Papuan Waskia on one side, and Takia
Austronesians on the other.

The two languages were studied by Malcolm Ross in a classic study of
language contact, which I have if anyone really wants to see it, but
he has a bit on Takia at:
see: http://tinyurl.com/35rws8
which, unfortunately, is a dreary old grammar tract, but it has a
map showing the position of the island.

In other words, Karkar is a perfect test tube for studies of
Austronesian/Papuan contact, or should be.

They probably fought like hell most of the time, but when the
volcano blew on one side or the other, took refuge in each other's
homes (and beds). That's what this is all about - a test-tube with a
bunsen burner under it.

Karkar is also an important site in the
old legends of Kulabob and Manup (the Austronesian/Papuan Cain and
Abel) re-told in Stephen Oppenheimer's Eden in the East.

Kulabob was the smart Austronesian boater, Manup the dumb sedentary
Papuan gardener, and different legends about the two are told on
both sides. They parallel the farmer (Cain) and herder (Abel)
stories quite strangely, but in almost opposite directions.
Kulabob/Cain always wins, but in one set of legends (Bible, etc) he
is the sedentary farmer, while in New Guinea he's the wanderer.

Oppenheimer seems to have missed this essential difference when he
talks about 'the same legend' in the Middle East and New Guinea, but
when he's talking about migrations, languages, thalassaemia, etc, in
this area he seems to be dead right, every time.