UCL Division of Biosciences


UGI Seminar - Javier Mendoza-Revilla, Institut Pasteur

23 June 2021, 3:00 pm–4:00 pm

Photo of Javier Mendoza-Revilla

Title : Genomic insights into population history, archaic introgression and biological adaptation in Oceania

Event Information

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Jackie Gadd


United Kingdom

Abstract :  The Pacific region is of major importance for addressing questions regarding human dispersals, interactions with archaic hominins and natural selection processes. However, the demographic and adaptive history of Oceanian populations remains largely uncharacterized. Here we report high-coverage genomes of 317 individuals from 20 populations from the Pacific region. We find that the ancestors of Papuan-related (‘Near Oceanian’) groups underwent a strong bottleneck before the settlement of the region, and separated around 20,000–40,000 years ago. We infer that the East Asian ancestors of Pacific populations may have diverged from Taiwanese Indigenous peoples before the Neolithic expansion, which is thought to have started from Taiwan around 5,000 years ago. Additionally, this dispersal was not followed by an immediate, single admixture event with Near Oceanian populations, but involved recurrent episodes of genetic interactions. Our analyses reveal marked differences in the proportion and nature of Denisovan heritage among Pacific groups, suggesting that independent interbreeding with highly structured archaic populations occurred. Furthermore, whereas introgression of Neanderthal genetic information facilitated the adaptation of modern humans related to multiple phenotypes (for example, metabolism, pigmentation and neuronal development), Denisovan introgression was primarily beneficial for immune-related functions. Finally, we report evidence of selective sweeps and polygenic adaptation associated with pathogen exposure and lipid metabolism in the Pacific region, increasing our understanding of the mechanisms of biological adaptation to island environments.

About the Speaker

Javier Mendoza-Revilla

Post Doctoral Researcher at Institut Pasteur

More about Javier Mendoza-Revilla