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Nature communications DOI:10.1038/ncomms5689

Reconstructing Austronesian population history in Island Southeast Asia.

Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2014
AuthorsLipson, M, Loh, PR, Patterson, N, Moorjani, P, Ko, YC, Stoneking, M, Berger, B, Reich, D
JournalNature communications
Date Published2014/08/19

Austronesian languages are spread across half the globe, from Easter Island to Madagascar. Evidence from linguistics and archaeology indicates that the 'Austronesian expansion,' which began 4,000-5,000 years ago, likely had roots in Taiwan, but the ancestry of present-day Austronesian-speaking populations remains controversial. Here, we analyse genome-wide data from 56 populations using new methods for tracing ancestral gene flow, focusing primarily on Island Southeast Asia. We show that all sampled Austronesian groups harbour ancestry that is more closely related to aboriginal Taiwanese than to any present-day mainland population. Surprisingly, western Island Southeast Asian populations have also inherited ancestry from a source nested within the variation of present-day populations speaking Austro-Asiatic languages, which have historically been nearly exclusive to the mainland. Thus, either there was once a substantial Austro-Asiatic presence in Island Southeast Asia, or Austronesian speakers migrated to and through the mainland, admixing there before continuing to western Indonesia.