Genetic diversity in Oceanic South East Asia and parts of Australia

Publication Type:
Thesis
Issue Date:
2010
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NO FULL TEXT AVAILABLE. This thesis contains 3rd party copyright material. ----- Biological anthropology offers a tool that provides novel independent data about the history of existing populations to complement the analyses of linguists and anthropologists. A multidisciplinary approach with contributions from of all disciplines has the potential to produce a common reflection of the origins and relatedness of various human populations. There remains considerable interest in the origins and movement of populations in oceanic South East Asia and the contributions of biological anthropology presented in this thesis are an original contribution that have allowed a re-evaluation of some of the competing ideas in this research domain. Oceanic South East Asia, comprising Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and parts of Australia was the last tropical region to have been occupied by anatomical modern humans after they left the horn of Africa -50-60,000 years ago. Most fascinating, Papua New Guinea and Australia were the very last regions occupied, and as a result of long isolation, they conserved the most intact traces of this Out of Africa expansion. Archaeologists have determined many cultures among them, and linguists an unexpectedly rich diversity of distinct languages. On the other hand, while also having many cultural differences and occupying a wide variety of environments, the people of Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) and Taiwan are relatively more homogeneous related, as they are all speakers of a language that belong to the Austronesian family of languages, their morphological traits are principally mongoloid, and archaeologists believe that the Lapita culture carries enough significant elements to relate them to a common ancestor shared by several cultures in Polynesia, Micronesia, and some areas of Melanesia. Interestingly this last culture can be traced back in space and time to potteries with similar characteristics found in the Philippines, Indonesia and Taiwan. Global warming and sea-level rises at the end of the Ice Age, 15,000 - 7,000 years ago, acted as a determining factor shaping modern human redistribution in many regions and most importantly contributed to the independent development of agriculture in highland Papua new guinea and in Southeast Asia. Pottery makers, Austronesian speakers and rice agriculturists are grouped into a one people who are generally believed to have sailed throughout ISEA via Taiwan and replaced or assimilated the first wave of hunter-gatherer settlers most actively in the mid-Holocene between 5,500 and 4,000 years. This thesis comprises a collection of publications that will provide an overview on the genetic aspects of the history of human population of Oceanic South East Asia, and will show how some of the anthropological peculiarities are reflected in the human genetic data. Most hypotheses and scenarios proposed herein will be drawn from sex-specifically inherited mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosomal DNA, whereas autosomal Human Leukocyte Antigen (Sukernik et al. 1977) data, most particularly drawn from polymorphisms of the HLA-DRB1 locus, will be used to add another dimension to these two non recombining uni-parentally inherited loci. Lastly, two disease association studies will be included among the publications to emphasize the often ignored problem encountered when choosing a healthy control that matches best the ethnicity of the disease group. In these studies, this was achieved by first determining the mtDNA polymorphism in case and control groups, and then conducting the disease association using polymorphisms obtained from the HLA system among the best matched groups. While the novel findings presented in this thesis have significantly contributed to the understanding of biological anthropology in this region, as with all good research, there are as many new questions raised. New developments in genome-wide analysis promise to remove the limitations of the techniques used in these studies. I look forward to the further clarification of the anthropology and biological history of this region that is the likely outcome of application of these new more complex approaches.
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