Ancient DNA indicates human population shifts and admixture in northern and southern China




Human genetic history in East Asia is poorly understood. To clarify population relationships, we obtained genome-wide data from 26 ancient individuals from northern and southern East Asia spanning 9500 to 300 years ago. Genetic differentiation in this region was higher in the past than the present, which reflects a major episode of admixture involving northern East Asian ancestry spreading across southern East Asia after the Neolithic, thereby transforming the genetic ancestry of southern China. Mainland southern East Asian and Taiwan Strait island samples from the Neolithic show clear connections with modern and ancient individuals with Austronesian-related ancestry, which supports an origin in southern China for proto-Austronesians. Connections among Neolithic coastal groups from Siberia and Japan to Vietnam indicate that migration and gene flow played an important role in the prehistory of coastal Asia.

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