J Syst Evol ›› 2021, Vol. 59 ›› Issue (1): 1-20.DOI: 10.1111/jse.12670

• Research Articles •     Next Articles

Fine‐scale genetic structure of Tujia and central Han Chinese revealing massive genetic admixture under language borrowing

Guang-Lin He1,2† , Ying-Xiang Li1†, Meng-Ge Wang2†, Xing Zou2, Hui-Yuan Yeh3, Xiao-Min Yang1, Zheng Wang2, Ren-Kuan Tang4, Su-Min Zhu4, Jian-Xin Guo1, Ting Luo1, Jing Zhao1, Jin Sun1, Zi- Yang Xia1, Hao-Liang Fan5, Rong Hu1, Lan-Hai Wei1, Gang Chen6,7*, Yi- Ping Hou2*, and Chuan-Chao Wang1*   

  1. 1Department of Anthropology and Ethnology, Institute of Anthropology, National Institute for Data Science in Health and Medicine, and School of Life Sciences, Xiamen University, Xiamen 361005, Fujian, China
    2Institute of Forensic Medicine, West China School of Basic Science and Forensic Medicine Sichuan University, Chengdu 610041, China
    3School of Humanities, Nanyang Technological University, Nanyang 639798, Singapore
    4Department of Forensic Medicine, College of Basic Medicine Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing 400000, China
    5Department of Forensic Science, Forensic Science Center of Hainan Medical University, Hainan Medical University, Haikou 571199, China
    6Hunan Key Lab of Bioinformatics, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Central South University, Changsha 410075, China
    7WeGene, Shenzhen 518040, China
  • Received:2020-03-26 Accepted:2020-07-24 Online:2020-08-05 Published:2021-01-01

Abstract: Archaeological, genetic, and linguistic evidence has supported the idea that northern China is the original center of modern Sino‐Tibetan‐speaking populations. However, the demographic history of subsequent southward migration and genetic admixture of Han Chinese with surrounding indigenous populations remain uncharacterized, and the language shifts and assimilations accompanied by movement of people, or just an adaptation of cultural ideas among populations in central China is still unclear, especially for Tibeto‐Burman‐speaking Tujia and central Han Chinese populations. To resolve this, we genotyped over 60K genome‐wide markers in 505 unrelated individuals from 63 indigenous populations. Our results showed both studied Han and Tujia were at the intermediate position in the modern East Asian North–South genetic cline and there was a correlation between the genetic composition and the latitude. We observed the strong genetic assimilation between Tujia people and central Han Chinese, which suggested massive population movements and genetic admixture under language borrowing. Tujia and central Han Chinese could be modeled as a two‐way admixture deriving primary ancestry from a northern ancestral population closely related to the ancient DevilsCave and present‐day Tibetans and a southern ancestral population closely related to the present‐day Tai‐Kadai and Austronesian‐speaking groups. The ancestral northern population we suspect to be related to the Neolithic millet farming groups in the Yellow River Basin or central China. We showed that the newly genotyped populations in Hubei Province had a higher proportion of DevilsCave or modern Tungusic/Mongolic‐related northern ancestries, while the Hunan populations harbored a higher proportion of Austronesian/Tai‐Kadai‐related southern ancestries.

Key words: demographic history, gene flow, genetic admixture, language borrowing, Tibeto‐Burman, Tujia