Whole-genome genetic diversity in a sample of Australians with deep aboriginal ancestry

Brian P. McEvoy, Joanne M. Lind, Eric T. Wang, Robert K. Moyzis, Peter M. Visscher, Sheila M. Van Holst Pellekaan, Alan N. Wilton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Australia was probably settled soon after modern humans left Africa, but details of this ancient migration are not well understood. Debate centers on whether the Pleistocene Sahul continent (composed of New Guinea, Australia, and Tasmania) was first settled by a single wave followed by regional divergence into Aboriginal Australian and New Guinean populations (common origin) or whether different parts of the continent were initially populated independently. Australia has been the subject of relatively few DNA studies even though understanding regional variation in genomic structure and diversity will be important if disease-association mapping methods are to be successfully evaluated and applied across populations. We report on a genome-wide investigation of Australian Aboriginal SNP diversity in a sample of participants from the Riverine region. The phylogenetic relationship of these Aboriginal Australians to a range of other global populations demonstrates a deep common origin with Papuan New Guineans and Melanesians, with little evidence of substantial later migration until the very recent arrival of European colonists. The study provides valuable and robust insights into an early and important phase of human colonization of the globe. A broader survey of Australia, including diverse geographic sample populations, will be required to fully appreciate the continent's unique population history and consequent genetic heritage, as well as the importance of both to the understanding of health issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-305
Number of pages9
JournalAmerican Journal of Human Genetics
Volume87
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Aug 2010
Externally publishedYes

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