October 22, 2012

Ancient mtDNA of first New Zealanders

PNAS doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209896109

Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders

Michael Knapp et al.

The dispersal of modern humans across the globe began ∼65,000 y ago when people first left Africa and culminated with the settlement of East Polynesia, which occurred in the last 1,000 y. With the arrival of Polynesian canoes only 750 y ago, Aotearoa/New Zealand became the last major landmass to be permanently settled by humans. We present here complete mitochondrial genome sequences of the likely founding population of Aotearoa/New Zealand recovered from the archaeological site of Wairau Bar. These data represent complete mitochondrial genome sequences from ancient Polynesian voyagers and provide insights into the genetic diversity of human populations in the Pacific at the time of the settlement of East Polynesia.



Matty K said...

Anyone with an interest in this, should try and get their hands on this:


The settlement of the Pacific, must be one of the greatest achievements in history. It certainly puts ancient seagoing cultures like the Phoenicians in a different light ....

terryt said...

Here is a local link that expand on the abstract:



"We found that three of the four individuals had no recent maternal ancestor in common, indicating that these pioneers were not simply from one tight-knit kin group, but instead included families that were not directly maternally related. This gives a fascinating new glimpse into the social structure of the first New Zealanders and others taking part in the final phases of the great Polynesian migration across the Pacific."

So much for 'founder effects'. Another comment some may find interesting:

"Intriguingly, they also discovered that at least one of the settlers carried a genetic mutation associated with insulin resistance, which leads to Type 2 diabetes".

The link also has a short description of the site the teeth were obtained from.

G Horvat said...

@Terry. If you have not checked, the article is open access.

terryt said...

Thanks G Horvat. Although the authors postulate 'serial bottlenecks' as explanation for the limited haplogroup diversity in Central Polynesia it is extremely easy to construct a scenario that requires just a single founder effect: that involving the departure of mt-DNA B4a1 and Y-DNA C2 from somewhere between the 'Bird's Head' and the Philippines. Other mt-DNAs such as Q1 are easily explained as following on behind. So 'Founder effects' are probably less important for human expansion than is usually believed. Biblical-level bottlenecks are out.

Blog Motivasi Diri said...

I think the bottlenecks are still in, imho. It also played role in the gender-biased, such the Austronesian markers are occupied by the women, and the Papuan markers are occupied by the males. I have not read any papers regarding that though, but it occured in the Near Melanesia and Polynesian (on Kayser et al 2006)

terryt said...

"the Papuan markers are occupied by the males".

But those 'Papuan' markers are C2, which almost certainly is South Wallacean in origin, not original to New Guinea. It may even be a marker of the Austronesian arrival in the Bird's head. In which case it would have accompanied mt-DNA B4a1a all the way from Wallacea to Polynesia, suffering no bottleneck along the way. Other Papuan markers in Remote Oceania are of Northern Solomon origin and most likely formed part of a follow-on movement which reached basically only as far as Fiji.