Science News
from research organizations

No one is an island: The history of human genetic ancestry in Madagascar

Date:
July 5, 2016
Source:
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press)
Summary:
To get at the heart of Malagasy genetic ancestry and reconstruct their history, a researcher team investigated genome-wide genotyping data of Malagasy populations along with populations across the Indian Ocean, including two groups of anthropological interest: the Banjar and the Ngaju from Southeast Borneo. A new picture has emerged on the settlement of Madagascar.
Share:
FULL STORY

This is a landscape from South of Madagascar.
Credit: T. Letellier

More than 4,000 years ago, a proto-globalization process started in the Indian Ocean, one of the outcomes being a great human migration of African and Asian peoples spreading across the Indian Ocean to inhabit the fourth largest island in the world, Madagascar. Austronesian peoples came from Borneo on boats, and Bantu migrants crossed over from East Africa. Overall, the Malagasy is thought to be composed by more than a dozen of ethnic groups, and the specific geographic, linguistic origins and settlement dates are still hotly debated.

To get at the heart of Malagasy genetic ancestry and reconstruct their history, a researcher team led by Dr. Francois-Xavier Ricaut investigated genome-wide genotyping data of Malagasy populations along with populations across the Indian Ocean, including two groups of anthropological interest: the Banjar and the Ngaju from Southeast Borneo

A new picture has emerged on the settlement of Madagascar.

Ricaut's group has shown that the Malagasy genetic diversity is 68 percent African and 32 percent Asian. Based on their evidence, the Banjar were the most probable Asian population that traveled to Madagascar. The genetic dating supports the hypothesis that this Austronesian migration occurred around 1,000 years ago, while the last significant Bantu migration to Madagascar began 300 years later, perhaps following climate change in Africa.

Lastly, the authors propose that a language shift occurred in Southeast Borneo after the migration of Banjar to Madagascar. It is thought that the Banjar, currently speaking a Malay language, presumably spoke a language closer to that reconstructed for Proto-Malagasy. This linguistic change would have followed a major cultural and genetic admixture with Malay, driven by a Malay Empire trading post in Southeast Borneo. The collapse of the Malay Empire during the 15th and 16th centuries could correspond to the end of the Malay gene mix into the Banjar population.

"Our study is the first to reconcile data and hypotheses coming from linguistic, archaeological and genetic research to build an anthropological scenario placing the Malagasy ancestry in the Banjar group, living 6000km away," says Dr. Ricaut.


Story Source:

Materials provided by Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Nicolas Brucato, Pradiptajati Kusuma, Murray P. Cox, Denis Pierron, Gludhug A. Purnomo, Alexander Adelaar, Toomas Kivisild, Thierry Letellier, Herawati Sudoyo, François-Xavier Ricaut. Malagasy genetic ancestry comes from an historical Malay trading post in Southeast Borneo.. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 2016; msw117 DOI: 10.1093/molbev/msw117

Cite This Page:

Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "No one is an island: The history of human genetic ancestry in Madagascar." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 5 July 2016. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160705183132.htm>.
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). (2016, July 5). No one is an island: The history of human genetic ancestry in Madagascar. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 26, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160705183132.htm
Molecular Biology and Evolution (Oxford University Press). "No one is an island: The history of human genetic ancestry in Madagascar." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/07/160705183132.htm (accessed May 26, 2017).

RELATED STORIES