//American Journal of Physical Anthropology

American Journal of Physical Anthropology

Publisher: Wiley
Impact Factor: 2.379
Years in Print: 1918–present
Journal Website: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/journal/10.1002/(ISSN)1096-8644

Articles of Interest

Ethnic derivation of the Ainu inferred from ancient mitochondrial DNA data

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

The Ainu, the indigenous people living on the northernmost island of Japan, Hokkaido, have long been a focus of anthropological interest because of their cultural, linguistic, and physical identity. A major problem with genetic studies on the Ainu is that the previously published data stemmed almost exclusively from only 51 modern-day individuals living in Biratori Town, central Hokkaido. To clarify the actual genetic characteristics of the Ainu, individuals who are less influenced by mainland Japanese, who started large-scale immigration into Hokkaido about 150 years ago, should be examined. Moreover, the samples should be collected from all over Hokkaido.

Materials and methods

Mitochondrial DNA haplogroups of 94 Ainu individuals from the Edo era were successfully determined by analyzing haplogroup-defining polymorphisms in the hypervariable and coding regions. Thereafter, their frequencies were compared to those of other populations.

Results

Our findings indicate that the Ainu still retain the matrilineage of the Hokkaido Jomon people. However, the Siberian influence on this population is far greater than previously recognized. Moreover, the influence of mainland Japanese is evident, especially in the southwestern part of Hokkaido that is adjacent to Honshu, the main island of Japan.

Discussion

Our results suggest that the Ainu were formed from the Hokkaido Jomon people, but subsequently underwent considerable admixture with adjacent populations. The present study strongly recommends revision of the widely accepted dual-structure model for the population history of the Japanese, in which the Ainu are assumed to be the direct descendants of the Jomon people.

Peoples: Ainu | Places: Biratori Town, Hokkaido, and Japan | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA

A female Viking warrior confirmed by genomics

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

The objective of this study has been to confirm the sex and the affinity of an individual buried in a well-furnished warrior grave (Bj 581) in the Viking Age town of Birka, Sweden. Previously, based on the material and historical records, the male sex has been associated with the gender of the warrior and such was the case with Bj 581. An earlier osteological classification of the individual as female was considered controversial in a historical and archaeological context. A genomic confirmation of the biological sex of the individual was considered necessary to solve the issue.

Materials and methods

Genome-wide sequence data was generated in order to confirm the biological sex, to support skeletal integrity, and to investigate the genetic relationship of the individual to ancient individuals as well as modern-day groups. Additionally, a strontium isotope analysis was conducted to highlight the mobility of the individual.

Results

The genomic results revealed the lack of a Y-chromosome and thus a female biological sex, and the mtDNA analyses support a single-individual origin of sampled elements. The genetic affinity is close to present-day North Europeans, and within Sweden to the southern and south-central region. Nevertheless, the Sr values are not conclusive as to whether she was of local or nonlocal origin.

Discussion

The identification of a female Viking warrior provides a unique insight into the Viking society, social constructions, and exceptions to the norm in the Viking time-period. The results call for caution against generalizations regarding social orders in past societies.

Peoples: Vikings | Places: Sweden | Topics: | DNA Type:

The genetic admixture in Tibetan-Yi Corridor

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

The Tibetan-Yi Corridor located on the eastern edge of Tibetan Plateau is suggested to be the key region for the origin and diversification of Tibeto-Burman speaking populations and the main route of the peopling of the Plateau. However, the genetic history of the populations in the Corridor is far from clear due to limited sampling in the northern part of the Corridor.

Materials and methods

We collected blood samples from 10 Tibetan and 10 Han Chinese individuals from Gansu province and genotyped about 600,000 genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

Results

Our data revealed that the populations in the Corridor are all admixed on a genetic cline of deriving ancestry from Tibetans on the Plateau and surrounding lowland East Asians. The Tibetan and Han Chinese groups in the north of the Plateau show significant evidence of low-level West Eurasian admixture that could be probably traced back to 600∼900 years ago.

Discussion

We conclude that there have been huge population migrations from surrounding lowland onto the Tibetan Plateau via the Tibetan-Yi Corridor since the initial formation of Tibetans probably in Neolithic Time, which leads to the current genetic structure of Tibeto-Burman speaking populations.

Peoples: Han Chinese and Tibetans | Places: Gansu province | Topics: admixture | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA

Ancestry dynamics in a South American population: The impact of gene flow and preferential mating

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

European ancestry in many populations in Latin America at autosomal loci is often higher than that from X-linked loci indicating more European male ancestry and more Amerindian female ancestry. Generally, this has been attributed to more European male gene flow but could also result from an advantage to European mating or reproductive success.

Methods

Population genetic models were developed to investigate the dynamics of gene flow and mating or reproductive success. Using estimates of autosomal and X-chromosome European ancestry, the amount of male gene flow or mating or reproductive advantage for Europeans, or those with European ancestry, was estimated.

Results

In a population from Antioquia, Colombia with an estimated 79% European autosomal ancestry and an estimated 69% European X-chromosome ancestry, about 15% male gene flow from Europe or about 20% mating or reproductive advantage of Europeans over Amerindians resulted in these levels of European ancestry in the contemporary population. Combinations of gene flow and mating advantage were nearly additive in their impact.

Conclusions

Gene flow, mating advantage, or a combination of both factors, are consistent with observed levels of European ancestry in a Latin American population. This approach provides a general methodology to determine the levels of gene flow and mating differences that can explain the observed contemporary differences in ancestry from autosomes and X-chromosomes.

Peoples: Native Americans | Places: Antioquia, Colombia, and Latin America | Topics: Gene flow and Mating advantage | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA, X-DNA, and Y-DNA

Ancient mitochondrial DNA and ancestry of Paquimé inhabitants, Casas Grandes (A.D. 1200–1450)

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

The Casas Grandes (Paquimé) culture, located in the Northwest of Chihuahua, Mexico reached its apogee during the Medio Period (A.D. 1200–1450). Paquimé was abandoned by the end of the Medio Period (A.D. 1450), and the ancestry of its inhabitants remains unsolved. Some authors suggest that waves of Mesoamerican immigrants, possibly merchants, stimulated Paquimé's development during the Medio Period. Archaeological evidence suggests possible ties to groups that inhabited the Southwestern US cultures. This study uses ancient DNA analysis from fourteen samples to estimate genetic affinities of ancient Paquimé inhabitants.

Materials and methods

DNA was extracted from 14 dental ancient samples from Paquimé. PCR and Sanger sequencing were used to obtain mitochondrial control region sequences. Networks, PCoA, and Nei genetic distances were estimated to compare Paquimé haplotypes against available past haplotypes data from Southwestern and Mesoamerican groups.

Results

Haplogroups were characterized for 11 of the samples, and the results revealed the presence of four distinct Amerindian mitochondrial lineages: B (n = 5; 45%), A (n = 3; 27%), C (n = 2; 18%) and D (n = 1; 10%). Statistical analysis of the haplotypes, haplogroup frequencies, and Nei genetic distances showed close affinity of Paquimé with Mimbres.

Discussion

Although our results provide strong evidence of genetic affinities between Paquimé and Mimbres, with the majority of haplotypes shared or derived from ancient Southwest populations, the causes of cultural development at Paquimé still remain a question. These preliminary results provide evidence in support of other bioarchaeological studies, which have shown close biological affinities between Paquimé and Mimbres, a Puebloan culture, in the Southwestern US.

Peoples: Casas Grandes (Paquimé) culture | Places: Chihuahua, Mexico, and Paquimé | Topics: Medio Period, Mesoamerican immigrants, and Paquimé inhabitants | DNA Type: Ancient DNA and mtDNA

East of the Andes: The genetic profile of the Peruvian Amazon populations

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

Assuming that the differences between the Andes and the Amazon rainforest at environmental and historical levels have influenced the distribution patterns of genes, languages, and cultures, the maternal and paternal genetic reconstruction of the Peruvian Amazon populations was used to test the relationships within and between these two extreme environments.

Materials and Methods

We analyzed four Peruvian Amazon communities (Ashaninka, Huambisa, Cashibo, and Shipibo) for both Y chromosome (17 STRs and 8 SNPs) and mtDNA data (control region sequences, two diagnostic sites of the coding region, and one INDEL), and we studied their variability against the rest of South America.

Results

We detected a high degree of genetic diversity in the Peruvian Amazon people, both for mtDNA than for Y chromosome, excepting for Cashibo people, who seem to have had no exchanges with their neighbors, in contrast with the others communities. The genetic structure follows the divide between the Andes and the Amazon, but we found a certain degree of gene flow between these two environments, as particularly emerged with the Y chromosome descent cluster's (DCs) analysis.

Discussion

The Peruvian Amazon is home to an array of populations with differential rates of genetic exchanges with their neighbors and with the Andean people, depending on their peculiar demographic histories. We highlighted some successful Y chromosome lineages expansions originated in Peru during the pre-Columbian history which involved both Andeans and Amazon Arawak people, showing that at least a part of the Amazon rainforest did not remain isolated from those exchanges.

Peoples: Ashaninka, Cashibo people, Huambisa, Peruvians, and Shipibo | Places: Amazon and Peru | Topics: pre-Columbian history | DNA Type: mtDNA and Y-DNA

Why were Sardinians the shortest Europeans? A journey through genes, infections, nutrition, and sex

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Since ancient times the Mediterranean island of Sardinia has been known for harboring a population with an average body height shorter than almost every other ethnic group in Europe. After over a century of investigations, the cause(s) at the origin of this uniqueness are not yet clear. The shorter stature of Sardinians appears to have been documented since prehistoric times, as revealed by the analysis of skeletal remains discovered in archaeological sites on the island. Recently, a number of genetic, hormonal, environmental, infective and nutritional factors have been put forward to explain this unique anthropometric feature, which persisted for a long time, even when environmental and living conditions improved around 1960. Although some of the putative factors are supported by sound empirical evidence, weaker support is available for others. The recent advent of whole genome analysis techniques shed new light on specific variants at the origin of this short stature. However, the marked geographical variability of stature across time and space within the island, and the well-known presence of pockets of short height in the population of the southern districts, are still puzzling findings that have attracted the interest of anthropologists and geneticists. The purpose of this review is to focus on the state-of-the-art research on stature, as well as the factors that made Sardinians the shortest among Europeans.

Peoples: Sardinians | Places: Sardinia | Topics: Stature | DNA Type: Autosomal DNA

Sex-specific genetic diversity is shaped by cultural factors in Inner Asian human populations

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

Sex-specific genetic structures have been previously documented worldwide in humans, even though causal factors have not always clearly been identified. In this study, we investigated the impact of ethnicity, geography and social organization on the sex-specific genetic structure in Inner Asia. Furthermore, we explored the process of ethnogenesis in multiple ethnic groups.

Methods

We sampled DNA in Central and Northern Asia from 39 populations of Indo-Iranian and Turkic-Mongolic native speakers. We focused on genetic data of the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA. First, we compared the frequencies of haplogroups to South European and East Asian populations. Then, we investigated the genetic differentiation for eight Y-STRs and the HVS1 region, and tested for the effect of geography and ethnicity on such patterns. Finally, we reconstructed the male demographic history, inferred split times and effective population sizes of different ethnic groups.

Results

Based on the haplogroup data, we observed that the Indo-Iranian- and Turkic-Mongolic-speaking populations have distinct genetic backgrounds. However, each population showed consistent mtDNA and Y chromosome haplogroups patterns. As expected in patrilocal populations, we found that the Y-STRs were more structured than the HVS1. While ethnicity strongly influenced the genetic diversity on the Y chromosome, geography better explained that of the mtDNA. Furthermore, when looking at various ethnic groups, we systematically found a genetic split time older than historical records, suggesting a cultural rather than biological process of ethnogenesis.

Conclusions

This study highlights that, in Inner Asia, specific cultural behaviors, especially patrilineality and patrilocality, leave a detectable signature on the sex-specific genetic structure.

Peoples: Turkic peoples | Places: Asia | Topics: | DNA Type: mtDNA and Y-DNA

Early medieval stone-lined graves in Southern Germany: analysis of an emerging noble class

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2017

Abstract:

Objectives

Stone-lined graves, which first appear in Bavarian territory during the 7th century AD, are assumed to be tombs of emerging nobility. While previous research on stone-lined grave goods supports their status as elite burials, an important factor defining nobility—kinship—has not been examined so far.

Materials and methods

Morphological analysis of the commingled skeletal remains of 21 individuals from three archaeological sites was carried out. Radiocarbon dating was conducted on these individuals to gain information on usage intervals of these graves. To test whether stone-lined graves can be considered family graves, analyses of mitochondrial HVR I, Y-chromosomal and autosomal STRs were carried out.

Results

Morphological examination revealed a surplus of males buried in stone-lined graves and radiocarbon dating points to usage of the tombs for several generations. According to aDNA analysis, kinship can be assumed both between and within stone-lined graves.

Discussion

Taken together, these results hint at burials of family members with high social status being inhumed at the same site, in some cases even the same grave, for several generations. They also suggest, for the first time, that an early medieval linear cemetery was structured according to biological kinship.

Peoples: Germans | Places: Southern Germany | Topics: commingled skeletal remains, Grave sites, and Kinship | DNA Type: Ancient DNA, Autosomal DNA, mtDNA, and Y-STR

Group membership, geography and shared ancestry: Genetic variation in the Basotho of Lesotho

Journal: American Journal of Physical Anthropology | Year: 2016

Abstract:

Objectives

The investigation of the evolution of cultural and genetic traits and how they interact represents a vibrant area of research in evolutionary genetics, whose dynamics are particularly relevant for our species. One of the key assumptions of the “gene–culture coevolution” framework is the coinheritance of cultural and genetic traits. A corollary of the model is that culturally defined groups with a unique (or a limited number of) common origin(s) whose membership is inherited only through the male or female line are expected to show a relatively low intragroup variation for genetic markers similarly transmitted. Across human societies this is expected to be the case for cultural toponymies and family names within patrilineal and matrilineal groups considered in association with the nonrecombining region of the Y chromosome (NRY) and the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) portion of the genome, respectively. This study aims at exploring the degree of correlation between culture and genetics by investigating the genetic variation of culturally and geographically defined groups.

Methods

We analyzed the genetic variation at NRY and mtDNA in 181 individuals from the Basotho, a Southern African patrilineal population from Lesotho, in combination with information about group membership and geographic origin.

Results

Our results show that (a) the genetic distance between individuals belonging to the same culturally defined group is lower than the population as a whole when NRY markers are considered; (b) cultural traits have a bigger impact than geography for the within-group variation of Y chromosome, but not mtDNA; and (c) within-group genetic variation is compatible with a more homogeneous origin for less common groups.

Conclusions

Our results provided additional evidence for the relevance of the dual inheritance model (culture and genetics) in understanding the patterns of human genetic variation, as implied by gene–culture coevolution theory.

Peoples: Basotho | Places: Lasotho and Southern Africa | Topics: gene–culture coevolution and group membership | DNA Type: mtDNA and Y-DNA

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