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Curr Biol. 2014 Nov 3;24(21):2518-25. doi: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.057. Epub 2014 Oct 23.

Genome-wide ancestry patterns in Rapanui suggest pre-European admixture with Native Americans.

Author information

1
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark.
2
Center for Biological Sequence Analysis, Department of Systems Biology, Technical University of Denmark, Kemitorvet 208, 2800 Kongens Lyngby, Denmark.
3
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark; Department of Genetics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.
4
Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genomics, Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3140, USA.
5
Department of Medical Genetics, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, 0424 Oslo, Norway.
6
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark; Center for Theoretical Evolutionary Genomics, Department of Integrative Biology and Department of Statistics, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720-3140, USA.
7
Department of Immunology, University of Oslo and Oslo University Hospital, 0424 Oslo, Norway.
8
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Electronic address: ewillerslev@snm.ku.dk.
9
Centre for GeoGenetics, Natural History Museum of Denmark, 1350 Copenhagen K, Denmark. Electronic address: annasapfo@gmail.com.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Rapa Nui (Easter Island), located in the easternmost corner of the Polynesian Triangle, is one of the most isolated locations on the planet inhabited by humans. Archaeological and genetic evidence suggests that the island was first colonized by Polynesians around AD 1200, during their eastward expansion. Although it remains contentious whether Polynesians reached South America, suggestive evidence has been brought forward supporting the possibility of Native American contact prior to the European "discovery" of the island in AD 1722.

RESULTS:

We generated genome-wide data for 27 Rapanui. We found a mostly Polynesian ancestry among Rapanui and detected genome-wide patterns consistent with Native American and European admixture. By considering the distribution of local ancestry tracts of eight unrelated Rapanui, we found statistical support for Native American admixture dating to AD 1280-1495 and European admixture dating to AD 1850-1895.

CONCLUSIONS:

These genetic results can be explained by one or more pre-European trans-Pacific contacts.

PMID:
25447991
DOI:
10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.057
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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