Nusa Tenggara, including East Timor, located at the crossroad between Island Southeast Asia, Near Oceania, and Australia, are characterized by a complex cultural structure harbouring speakers from two different major linguistic groups of different geographic origins (Austronesian (AN) and non-Austronesian (NAN)). This provides suitable possibilities to study gene-language relationship; however, previous studies from other parts of Nusa Tenggara reported conflicting evidence about gene-language correlation in this region. Aiming to investigate gene-language relationships including sex-mediated aspects in East Timor, we analysed the paternally inherited non-recombining part of the Y chromosome (NRY) and the maternally inherited mitochondrial (mt) DNA in a representative collection of AN-and NAN-speaking groups. Y-SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) data were newly generated for 273 samples and combined with previously established Y-STR (short tandem repeat) data of the same samples, and with previously established mtDNA data of 290 different samples with, however, very similar representation of geographic and linguistic coverage of the country. We found NRY and mtDNA haplogroups of previously described putative East/Southeast Asian (E/SEA) and Near Oceanian (NO) origins in both AN and NAN speakers of East Timor, albeit in different proportions, suggesting reciprocal genetic admixture between both linguistic groups for females, but directional admixture for males. Our data underline the dual genetic origin of East Timorese in E/SEA and NO, and highlight that substantial genetic admixture between the two major linguistic groups had occurred, more so via women than men. Our study therefore provides another example where languages and genes do not conform due to sex-biased genetic admixture across major linguistic groups.

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Journal European Journal of Human Genetics
Gomes, S.M. (Sibylle M.), van Oven, M, Souto, L, Morreira, H. (Helena), Brauer, S, Bodner, M. (Martin), … Kayser, M.H. (2017). Lack of gene-language correlation due to reciprocal female but directional male admixture in Austronesians and non-Austronesians of East Timor. European Journal of Human Genetics, 25(2), 246–252. doi:10.1038/ejhg.2016.101