A Polynesian motif on the Y chromosome: Population structure in remote Oceania

Murray P. Cox, Alan J. Redd, Tatiana M. Karafet, Christine A. Ponder, J. Stephen Lansing, Herawati Sudoyo, Michael F. Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


The Polynesian motif, a mitochondrial DNA marker of ancestral Polynesian communities, has filled a critical role in reconstructions of remote Oceanic history. Although the motif provides an effective narrative for Polynesian females, no equivalent male history is available from paternal lineages. Here, we describe a Y-chromosome binary polymorphism with absolute Polynesian affinity. We illustrate its unique spatial and temporal connections to early Polynesian communities, and through an analysis of associated short tandem repeat variation, we describe the first clear genealogic structure within Polynesia. Unlike the eastern and western regions advocated by archeology, we identify a tripartite structure comprising interaction spheres in the west (Tonga and Samoa), center (Tahiti), and east (Rapanui/Easter Island). Such patterning, a product of early regional contact and subsequent isolation, signals the conflicting roles of mobility and seclusion in Polynesian prehistory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)525-535
Number of pages11
JournalHuman biology
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2007
Externally publishedYes


  • Indonesia
  • Male history
  • Melanesia
  • Micronesia
  • Oceania
  • Polynesia
  • Polynesian motif
  • Polynesian phylogeography
  • Short tandem repeats
  • Single nucleotide polymorphisms
  • Y chromosome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)


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