In search of Asian Malagasy ancestors in Indonesia

Abstract : Indonesia hosts a wide range of linguistic, ethnic and genetic diversity, comprising ~600 ethnic groups and 700 living languages. Indonesia has facilitated the last substantial wave of human migration was the Austronesian dispersal ~5,000 years ago, which is thought to have originated in Taiwan. Its influence spread through Philippines and Indonesia, ultimately impacting a wide geographical area, from Remote Oceania in the east and to Madagascar in the west. Despite considerable genetic research on the eastward Austronesian expansion, there is little equivalent research on the western edge, leaving major issues unresolved regarding the settlement of Madagascar. Based on cultural and biological studies, it has been suggested that Indonesian peoples played a major role in the colonization of Madagascar from around the mid-first millennium CE (Current Era). However, poor geographical coverage of Indonesian populations has prevented the Indonesian source populations from being identified. Here, I performed human population genetic studies on 12 new Indonesian populations, which were a priori expected to shed light on the westward migration of Austronesians across the Indian Ocean. This includes the Ma'anyan ethnic group from Southeast Borneo, who are the closest linguistic siblings to modern Malagasy. Using different genetic markers (Y-chromosome SNPs, mitochondrial DNA and genome-wide SNPs), my research has improved the description of Indonesian genetic diversity, and investigated the genetic links between Indonesia and Madagascar. Results Uniparental markers (Y-chromosome and mtDNA) analyses suggest that Malagasy derive from multiple regional sources in Indonesia, with a focus on southeastern Borneo, southern Sulawesi and the Lesser Sunda islands. Interestingly, the Ma'anyan share limited paternal and maternal lineages with the Malagasy, despite their linguistic connection. Furthermore, combining SNP frequency and haplotype-based analyses from autosomal genome-wide data, it was confirmed that the genetic diversity of the Ma'anyan does not match the Asian ancestry of the Malagasy. However, by focusing on Southeast Borneo populations, strong support was found for an origin of the Asian ancestry of Malagasy among the people of Banjar, an admixed population of Ma'anyan and Malay, likely resulting from trading activities by the Malay Empire in Southeast Borneo, and later continuing across the Indian Ocean arena. These results increase our understanding of genetic diversity across Indonesia by 1) identifying the unique and undiscovered Austronesian genetic component carried by the Ma'anyan, which occurs at low levels across Island Southeast Asia and suggests a more complex model for the Austronesian expansion in this region, and 2) describing the role played by sea-nomads in structuring genetic diversity and exchanges in central Indonesia, thus revealing the complex genetic history of populations living this rare nomadic lifestyle.
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Pradiptajati Kusuma. In search of Asian Malagasy ancestors in Indonesia. Social Anthropology and ethnology. Université Paul Sabatier - Toulouse III, 2017. English. ⟨NNT : 2017TOU30109⟩. ⟨tel-01914319⟩

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