This study examines Y-chromosome and mtDNA markers in the population of the island of Kiritimati in the context of geographically targeted reference populations from the Pacific. Kiritimati derives its population from the atoll islands of the Gilbert Archipelago and representsa geographicaltransitional region between Micronesia, Polynesia and Melanesia that likely played a critical role during theAustronesian expansion. The large presence(84.1%)of individuals withO-M175, O2a-M324 and O2a2b-P164 sub-haplogroups, 69.9% being O2a2b-P164, the Y-STR homogeneity within O2a2b-P164 and the very recent age of the sub-haplogroup(363-548 years ago)inKiritimati suggestthe arrival ofa genetically homogenous population to the Gilberteses followed by a population expassion.The close Y-STR haplotype affinities with profiles from the Samoa and Tonga Archipelagos point to an unprecedented massive post-Austronesian expansionexodus from West Polynesia.Contrasting the abundance of AustronesianO2a2b-P164 sub-haplogroup, the most abundantMelanesian/Papuansub-haplogroup,C-M130is present at a frequency of 13.5%. Thenetwork topology suggests that C-M130 arrived to theKiribati Archipelago from West Polynesia, specifically from West Samoa, Tonga and/or Tutuila subsequent to the Austronesian expansion about 832-1408 years ago. The haplotype affinities withinO2a2b-P164 argue for anoriginal source in Taiwan and its dispersal to West Polynesia and then to Southeast Micronesia. The present investigation provides an understanding of the genetic composition and complex migration history of an understudied region of the Pacific and provides evidence for recent dispersals towards Micronesia from West Polynesia subsequent to the initial Austronesian expansion.
Keywords: Autosomal STR; Micronesian populations; Mitochondrial DNA; Y-SNP; Y-STR.
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