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1.  Human genetics of the Kula Ring: Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA variation in the Massim of Papua New Guinea 
European Journal of Human Genetics  2014;22(12):1393-1403.
The island region at the southeastern-most tip of New Guinea and its inhabitants known as Massim are well known for a unique traditional inter-island trading system, called Kula or Kula Ring. To characterize the Massim genetically, and to evaluate the influence of the Kula Ring on patterns of human genetic variation, we analyzed paternally inherited Y-chromosome (NRY) and maternally inherited mitochondrial (mt) DNA polymorphisms in >400 individuals from this region. We found that the nearly exclusively Austronesian-speaking Massim people harbor genetic ancestry components of both Asian (AS) and Near Oceanian (NO) origin, with a proportionally larger NO NRY component versus a larger AS mtDNA component. This is similar to previous observations in other Austronesian-speaking populations from Near and Remote Oceania and suggests sex-biased genetic admixture between Asians and Near Oceanians before the occupation of Remote Oceania, in line with the Slow Boat from Asia hypothesis on the expansion of Austronesians into the Pacific. Contrary to linguistic expectations, Rossel Islanders, the only Papuan speakers of the Massim, showed a lower amount of NO genetic ancestry than their Austronesian-speaking Massim neighbors. For the islands traditionally involved in the Kula Ring, a significant correlation between inter-island travelling distances and genetic distances was observed for mtDNA, but not for NRY, suggesting more male- than female-mediated gene flow. As traditionally only males take part in the Kula voyages, this finding may indicate a genetic signature of the Kula Ring, serving as another example of how cultural tradition has shaped human genetic diversity.
doi:10.1038/ejhg.2014.38
PMCID: PMC4231407  PMID: 24619143
2.  Population Genetic Structure in Indian Austroasiatic Speakers: The Role of Landscape Barriers and Sex-Specific Admixture 
Molecular biology and evolution  2010;28(2):1013-1024.
The geographic origin and time of dispersal of Austroasiatic (AA) speakers, presently settled in south and southeast Asia, remains disputed. Two rival hypotheses, both assuming a demic component to the language dispersal, have been proposed. The first of these places the origin of Austroasiatic speakers in southeast Asia with a later dispersal to south Asia during the Neolithic, whereas the second hypothesis advocates pre-Neolithic origins and dispersal of this language family from south Asia. To test the two alternative models, this study combines the analysis of uniparentally inherited markers with 610,000 common single nucleotide polymorphism loci from the nuclear genome. Indian AA speakers have high frequencies of Y chromosome haplogroup O2a; our results show that this haplogroup has significantly higher diversity and coalescent time (17–28 thousand years ago) in southeast Asia, strongly supporting the first of the two hypotheses. Nevertheless, the results of principal component and “structure-like” analyses on autosomal loci also show that the population history of AA speakers in India is more complex, being characterized by two ancestral components—one represented in the pattern of Y chromosomal and EDAR results and the other by mitochondrial DNA diversity and genomic structure. We propose that AA speakers in India today are derived from dispersal from southeast Asia, followed by extensive sex-specific admixture with local Indian populations.
doi:10.1093/molbev/msq288
PMCID: PMC3355372  PMID: 20978040
Austroasiatic; mtDNA; Y chromosome; autosomes; admixture
3.  MicroRNA markers for forensic body fluid identification obtained from microarray screening and quantitative RT-PCR confirmation 
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are non-protein coding molecules with important regulatory functions; many have tissue-specific expression patterns. Their very small size in principle makes them less prone to degradation processes, unlike messenger RNAs (mRNAs), which were previously proposed as molecular tools for forensic body fluid identification. To identify suitable miRNA markers for forensic body fluid identification, we first screened total RNA samples derived from saliva, semen, vaginal secretion, and venous and menstrual blood for the expression of 718 human miRNAs using a microarray platform. All body fluids could be easily distinguished from each other on the basis of complete array-based miRNA expression profiles. Results from quantitative reverse transcription PCR (RT-PCR; TaqMan) assays for microarray candidate markers confirmed strong over-expression in the targeting body fluid of several miRNAs for venous blood and several others for semen. However, no candidate markers from array experiments for other body fluids such as saliva, vaginal secretion, or menstrual blood could be confirmed by RT-PCR. Time-wise degradation of venous blood and semen stains for at least 1 year under lab conditions did not significantly affect the detection sensitivity of the identified miRNA markers. The detection limit of the TaqMan assays tested for selected venous blood and semen miRNA markers required only subpicogram amounts of total RNA per single RT-PCR test, which is considerably less than usually needed for reliable mRNA RT-PCR detection. We therefore propose the application of several stable miRNA markers for the forensic identification of blood stains and several others for semen stain identification, using commercially available TaqMan assays. Additional work remains necessary in search for suitable miRNA markers for other forensically relevant body fluids.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00414-009-0402-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
doi:10.1007/s00414-009-0402-3
PMCID: PMC2855015  PMID: 20145944
miRNA; Body fluid identification; Microarray; TaqMan; RT-PCR; Forensics

Results 1-3 (3)