Increased Y-chromosome resolution of haplogroup O suggests genetic ties between the Ami aborigines of Taiwan and the Polynesian Islands of Samoa and Tonga
The Austronesian expansion has left its fingerprint throughout two thirds of the circumference of the globe reaching the island of Madagascar in East Africa to the west and Easter Island, off the coast of Chile, to the east. To date, several theories exist to explain the current genetic distribution of Austronesian populations, with the "slow boat" model being the most widely accepted, though other conjectures (i.e., the "express train" and "entangled bank" hypotheses) have also been widely discussed. In the current study, 158 Y chromosomes from the Polynesian archipelagos of Samoa and Tonga were typed using high resolution binary markers and compared to populations across Mainland East Asia, Taiwan, Island Southeast Asia, Melanesia and Polynesia in order to establish their patrilineal genetic relationships. Y-STR haplotypes on the C2 (M38), C2a (M208), O1a (M119), O3 (M122) and O3a2 (P201) backgrounds were utilized in an attempt to identify the differing sources of the current Y-chromosomal haplogroups present throughout Polynesia (of Melanesian and/or Asian descent). We find that, while haplogroups C2a, S and K3-P79 suggest a Melanesian component in 23%-42% of the Samoan and Tongan Y chromosomes, the majority of the paternal Polynesian gene pool exhibits ties to East Asia. In particular, the prominence of sub-haplogroup O3a2c* (P164), which has previously been observed at only minimal levels in Mainland East Asians (2.0-4.5%), in both Polynesians (ranging from 19% in Manua to 54% in Tonga) and Ami aborigines from Taiwan (37%) provides, for the first time, evidence for a genetic connection between the Polynesian populations and the Ami.
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