Open access at the Journal of Human Genetics:
Various genetic data (classic markers, mitochondrial DNAs, Y chromosomes and genome-wide single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs)) have confirmed the coexistence of three major human populations on the Japanese Archipelago: Ainu in Hokkaido, Ryukyuans in the Southern Islands and Mainland Japanese. We compared genome-wide SNP data of the Ainu, Ryukyuans and Mainland Japanese, and found the following results: (1) the Ainu are genetically different from Mainland Japanese living in Tohoku, the northern part of Honshu Island; (2) using Ainu as descendants of the Jomon people and continental Asians (Han Chinese, Koreans) as descendants of Yayoi people, the proportion of Jomon genetic component in Mainland Japanese was ~18% and ~28% in Ryukyuans; (3) the time since admixture for Mainland Japanese ranged from 55 to 58 generations ago, and 43 to 44 generations ago for the Ryukyuans, depending on the number of Ainu individuals with varying rates of recent admixture with Mainland Japanese; (4) estimated haplotypes of some Ainu individuals suggested relatively long-term admixture with Mainland Japanese; and (5) highly differentiated genomic regions between Ainu and Mainland Japanese included EDAR and COL7A1 gene regions, which were shown to influence macroscopic phenotypes. These results clearly demonstrate the unique status of the Ainu and Ryukyuan people within East Asia.
Jinam et al., Unique characteristics of the Ainu population in Northern Japan, Journal of Human Genetics (2015) 60, 565–571; doi:10.1038/jhg.2015.79; published online 16 July 2015
Open access at Genetics:
Despite recent advances in population genomics, much remains to be elucidated with regard to East Asian population history. The Ainu, a hunter-gatherer population of northern Japan and Sakhalin island of Russia, are thought to be key to elucidating the prehistory of Japan and the peopling of East Asia. Here, we study the genetic relationship of the Ainu with other East Asian and Siberian populations outside the Japanese archipelago using genome-wide genotyping data. We find that the Ainu represent a deep branch of East Asian diversity more basal than all present-day East Asian farmers. However, we did not find a genetic connection between the Ainu and populations of the Tibetan plateau, rejecting their long-held hypothetical connection based on Y chromosome data. Unlike all other East Asian populations investigated, the Ainu have a closer genetic relationship with northeast Siberians than with central Siberians, suggesting ancient connections among populations around the sea of Okhotsk. We also detect a recent genetic contribution of the Ainu to nearby populations, but no evidence for reciprocal recent gene flow is observed. Whole genome sequencing of contemporary and ancient Ainu individuals will be helpful to understand the details of the deep history of East Asians.
Jeong et al., Deep History of East Asian Populations Revealed Through Genetic Analysis of the Ainu, Genetics, Early Online October 23, 2015, doi: 10.1534/genetics.115.178673