Brief Communication

Mitochondrial DNA variations in Austronesian-speaking populations living in the New Georgia Islands, the Western Province of the Solomon Islands

  • Journal of Human Geneticsvolume 63pages101104 (2018)
  • doi:10.1038/s10038-017-0372-0
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Modern Austronesian (AN)-speaking Melanesians are considered to be derived from the admixture of indigenous non-Austronesian (NAN)-speaking people and AN-speaking people from Southeast Asia. In this study, we analyzed mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) variations in the D-loop region for two AN-speaking Melanesian populations (Munda and Kusaghe) and an AN-speaking Micronesian population (Rawaki) in the New Georgia Islands, the Western Province of the Solomon Islands to examine their genetic similarities to AN-speaking Polynesians in Tonga and NAN-speaking Melanesians, Gidra, in Papua New Guinea. The ‘Polynesian motif’, which is well-characterized mtDNA marker for Polynesians, was frequently observed in Munda and Kusaghe. Of particular interest, haplogroup E1a2 + 16261, which has been rarely observed in the Solomon Islands, accounted for 12.8% in Kusaghe. It has been reported that the haplogroup E1a2 arose in Island Southeast Asia (ISEA) 9400 ± 2850 years ago. Phylogenetic and principle component analyses for 24 Oceanian populations revealed that Munda and Kusaghe populations were genetically close to Tongan population, but not to Gidra. Rawaki population showed no apparent genetic similarities to populations of Tonga and Gidra. Our results suggest that considerable gene flow from AN-speaking populations originated from Southeast Asia to indigenous Melanesians occurred in the New Georgia Islands.

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We are deeply grateful to people of Solomon Islands for their kind cooperation in providing blood samples. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments. This study was partly supported by a Grant-in-Aid for Scientific Research from the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology of Japan.

Author information


  1. Department of Biological Sciences, Graduate School of Science, The University of Tokyo, Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo, 113-0033, Japan

    • Mariko Issiki
    • , Izumi Naka
    • , Takafumi Ishida
    •  & Jun Ohashi
  2. Department of Human Biology and Anatomy, Graduate School of Medicine, University of the Ryukyus, Uehara 207, Nishihara-cho, Nakagami-gun, Okinawa, 903-0215, Japan

    • Ryosuke Kimura
  3. Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies, Kyoto University, Kyoto, 606-8501, Japan

    • Takuro Furusawa
  4. Faculty of Nursing, The Japanese Red Cross Akita College of Nursing, Akita, 010-1493, Japan

    • Kazumi Natsuhara
  5. Faculty of Health Science, Hokkaido University, Sapporo, Hokkaido, 060-0812, Japan

    • Taro Yamauchi
  6. Graduate School of Health Sciences, Kobe University, Kobe, Hyogo, 654-0142, Japan

    • Minato Nakazawa
  7. Japan Wildlife Research Center, Sumida-ku, Tokyo, 130-8606, Japan

    • Ryutaro Ohtsuka


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Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from the patient for publication of this paper.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Jun Ohashi.

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