Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA studies on the population structure of the Christmas Island Community

Document Type

Journal Article


Faculty of Computing, Health and Science


School of Exercise, Biomedical and Health Science




Wise, C. A., Sullivan, S. G., Black, M. L., Erber, W. N., & Bittles, A. H. (2005). Y‐chromosome and mitochondrial DNA studies on the population structure of the Christmas Island community. American journal of physical anthropology, 128(3), 670-677. Available here


Christmas Island is a remote Australian territory located close to the main Indonesian island of Java. Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) markers were used to investigate the genetic structure of the population, which comprises communities of mixed ethnic origin. Analysis of 12 Y-chromosome biallelic polymorphisms revealed a high level of gene diversity and haplotype frequencies that were consistent with source populations in southern China and Southeast Asia. mtDNA hypervariable segment I (HVS-I) sequences displayed high levels of haplotype diversity and nucleotide diversity that were comparable to various Asian populations. Genetic distances revealed extremely low mtDNA differentiation among Christmas Islanders and Asian populations. This was supported by the relatively high proportion of sequence types shared among these populations. The most common mtDNA haplogroups were M* and B, followed by D and F, which are prevalent in East/Southeast Asia. Christmas Islanders of European descent were characterized by the Eurasian haplogroup R*, and a limited degree of admixture was observed. In general, analysis of the genetic data indicated population affinities to southern Chinese (in particular from the Yunnan Province) and Southeast Asia (Thailand, Malaysia, and Cambodia), which was consistent with historical records of settlement. The combined use of these different marker systems provides a useful and appropriate model for the study of contemporary populations derived from different ethnic origins.



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