Asia populated through a single migration event from the south!

Genetic ‘map’ of Asia’s diversity

An international scientific effort has revealed the genetics behind Asia’s diversity.

The Human Genome Organisation’s (HUGO) Pan-Asian SNP Consortium carried out a study of almost 2,000 people across the continent.

Their findings support the hypothesis that Asia was populated primarily through a single migration event from the south.

The researchers described their findings in the journal Science.

They found genetic similarities between populations throughout Asia and an increase in genetic diversity from northern to southern latitudes.

The team screened genetic samples from 73 Asian populations for more than 50,000 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs).

These are variations in pieces of the DNA code, which can be compared to find out how closely related two individuals are genetically.

This is the first study to give a clear answer to the question on the origin of East Asian populations
Shuhua Xu Chinese Academy of Sciences

The study found that, as expected, individuals who were from the same region, or who shared a common language also had a great deal in common genetically.

But it also answered a question about the origin of Asia’s population. It showed that the continent was likely populated primarily through a single migration event from the south.

Previously, there has been some debate about whether Asia was populated in two waves – one to South East Asia, and a later one to central and north-east Asia, or whether only a single migration occurred.

Diversity explained

Edison Liu from the Genome Institute of Singapore was a leading member of the consortium.

He explained that the age of a population has a much bigger effect on genetic diversity than the population size.

“It seems likely from our data that they entered South East Asia first – making these populations older [and therefore more diverse],” he said.

“[It continued] later and probably more slowly to the north, with diversity being lost along the way in these ‘younger’ populations.

“So although the Chinese population is very large, it has less variation than the smaller number of individuals living in South East Asia, because the Chinese expansion occurred very recently, following the development of rice agriculture – within only the last 10,000 years.”

Dr Liu said that it was “good news” that populations throughout Asia are genetically similar.

This knowledge will aid future genetic studies in the continent and help in the design of medicines to treat diseases that Asian populations might be at a higher risk of.

And the discovery of this common genetic heritage, he added, was a “reassuring social message”, that “robbed racism of much biological support”.

This provides another important piece to the jigsaw puzzle of global human diversity
Peter Underhill, Stanford University

Shuhua Xu from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, who was a member of the consortium, said that this was “the first comprehensive study of genetic diversity and history of Asian populations”.

“This is the first study to ive a clear answer to the question on the origin of East Asian populations,” Dr Xu added.

Vincent Macaulay, a statistical geneticist at the University of Glasgow in the UK told Science magazine that the team had produced “a fabulous data set”.

The evidence for the southern coastal migration route, he said seemed “very strong”.

The consortium involved 90 scientists from 11 countries including China, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the US.

Peter Underhill, a geneticist from Stanford University who was not involved in this study said that it represented an investment of a “tremendous amount of time, work and inter-institution collaboration”.

He told BBC News: “This provides another important piece to the jigsaw puzzle of global human diversity.”

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/12/11 15:38:27 GMT

4 Responses to “Asia populated through a single migration event from the south!”

  1. vedaprakash Says:

    Steve Farmer has been worried about the nationalitic interptetation of Mitali Mukerji and responds as follows:

    Dear Dan,

    As anticipated, unfortunately. What predictably idiotic reasons people
    find for nationalistic pride! Mind you, this is (for arguments sake
    taking the cited dates seriously, which arise from heuristic modeling
    assumptions) 100,000 years ago — roughly 60,000+ years or so before
    any finds of even the most primitive human symbols.

    “When humans moved out of Africa, there was a migration to India and from India to southeast Asia and then east Asia, and finally to the Americas. So, all Asians have a genetic connection with India,” Mitali Mukerji, a scientist from the Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology who was in the team, said.

    I keep thinking of Fermi’s paradox — or rather the doomsday
    interpretation of Fermi’s paradox:

    Can the human race survive this kind of primitive ethnocentricy far into the 21st century, given the continued spread of nuclear weapons? Dubious.

    The whole human race has genetic connections, BTW.


  2. vedaprakash Says:

    Indians were ancestors of Asians! (Racist interpretation and its implication)

    If we go through the literature on the origins of man, it is evident that the Europeans have been race conscious always with their (Germanic, Nordic and other prides competing with each other) and have been interpreting racially every so-called scientific data.

    Now the genetic studies based on selected samples go on give different results and the west has been definitely worried.

    The more the India is pointed out, the more they are worried, of course, with the solace that all men “came from Africa”!

    But, the european racist experts still claim that they had non-African origins as could be noted from “Neandarthal singing” etc.


    all people came from Africa and Adam and Eve are from Africa. Adam and Eve i meant first human inhabitants are moved out of Africa and diverged and now all humans met each other and started mixing a lot.

    • vedaprakash Says:

      Not exactly.

      The scientific research is continuous and continuing.

      Most of the scientists have been pseudo-scientists, in the sense, that thelogy is working in their minds (as you mention Adam, Eve etc). There have been many research papers and books on the subject and you can find how the whites want to differentiate them by making Neandarthal to sing a different song from that of “African Eve”!

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