Department of Evolutionary Genetics
Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
Deutscher Platz 6
phone: +49 341 3550 - 500
Population Genetics of Near Oceania
The human migration and settlement history of Oceania has been marked by at least two major migrations. An original peopling occurred following the migration out of Africa and settled in the highlands of Papua New Guinea approximately 50,000 years ago, and a later migration was part of the Austronesian expansion which replaced many of the Papuan traditions and languages and later spread to populate the far reaches of Polynesia.
My research is focused on the genetic structure of the people of Near Oceania with the goal of clarifying the origins of human settlement in that area. My research will be a multidisciplinary collaboration with linguists and attempt to determine whether the genetic and linguistic data for the area can further augment archaeological research. This research is exciting and a timely contribution to new knowledge given recently reported genetic signature connections between a non-human, non-Neanderthal, hominin and the people of Melanesia.
By studying mtDNA and Y-chromosome as well as gender-neutral areas of the genome I hope to further resolve the relationship between the people currently living in Oceania as well as shed further light on the ancient human migrations to the area. With an existing sample size of close to 1100 and growing, high-throughput technologies (Illumina GA II platform, SNP arrays) will be essential for the timely and cost-effective sequencing of whole mitochondrial genomes, non-recombining Y-chromosome and autosomal SNP profiles.