Unexpected NRY chromosome variation in Northern Island Melanesia

Mol Biol Evol. 2006 Aug;23(8):1628-41. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msl028. Epub 2006 Jun 5.


To investigate the paternal population history of populations in Northern Island Melanesia, 685 paternally unrelated males from 36 populations in this region and New Guinea were analyzed at 14 regionally informative binary markers and 7 short tandem repeat (STR) loci from the nonrecombining portion of the Y chromosome. Three newly defined binary markers (K6-P79, K7-P117, and M2-P87) aided in identifying considerable heterozygosity that would have otherwise gone undetected. Judging from their geographic distributions and network analyses of their associated STR profiles, 4 lineages appear to have developed in this region and to be of considerable age: K6-P79, K7-P117, M2-P87, and M2a-P22. The origins of K5-M230 and M-M4 are also confirmed as being located further west, probably in New Guinea. In the 25 adequately sampled populations, the number of different haplogroups ranged from 2 in the single most isolated group (the Aita of Bougainville), to 9, and measures of molecular diversity were generally not particularly low. The resulting pattern contradicts earlier findings that suggested far lower male-mediated diversity and gene exchange rates in the region. However, these earlier studies had not included the newly defined haplogroups. We could only identify a very weak signal of recent male Southeast Asian genetic influence (<10%), which was almost entirely restricted to Austronesian (Oceanic)-speaking groups. This contradicts earlier assumptions on the ancestral composition of these groups and requires a revision of hypotheses concerning the settlement of the islands of the central Pacific, which commenced from this region.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y*
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Haplotypes*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Melanesia
  • Microsatellite Repeats*
  • New Guinea
  • Phylogeny*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide