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Ascertaining the role of Taiwan as a source for the Austronesian expansion

Authors


Correspondence to: R. J. Herrera, College of Medicine, Florida International University, University Park, OE 304, Miami, FL 33199, USA. E-mail: ReneJustoHerrera@gmail.com

ABSTRACT

Taiwanese aborigines have been deemed the ancestors of Austronesian speakers which are currently distributed throughout two-thirds of the globe. As such, understanding their genetic distribution and diversity as well as their relationship to mainland Asian groups is important to consolidating the numerous models that have been proposed to explain the dispersal of Austronesian speaking peoples into Oceania. To better understand the role played by the aboriginal Taiwanese in this diaspora, we have analyzed a total of 451 individuals belonging to nine of the tribes currently residing in Taiwan, namely the Ami, Atayal, Bunun, Paiwan, Puyuma, Rukai, Saisiyat, Tsou, and the Yami from Orchid Island off the coast of Taiwan across 15 autosomal short tandem repeat loci. In addition, we have compared the genetic profiles of these tribes to populations from mainland China as well as to collections at key points throughout the Austronesian domain. While our results suggest that Daic populations from Southern China are the likely forefathers of the Taiwanese aborigines, populations within Taiwan show a greater genetic impact on groups at the extremes of the current domain than populations from Indonesia, Mainland, or Southeast Asia lending support to the “Out of Taiwan” hypothesis. We have also observed that specific Taiwanese aboriginal groups (Paiwan, Puyuma, and Saisiyat), and not all tribal populations, have highly influenced genetic distributions of Austronesian populations in the pacific and Madagascar suggesting either an asymmetric migration out of Taiwan or the loss of certain genetic signatures in some of the Taiwanese tribes due to endogamy, isolation, and/or drift. Am J Phys Anthropol 150:551–564, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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