Journal of human genetics 2016 8
Exploring the maternal history of the Tai people.
In the past decades, the Tai people are increasingly being focused by genetic studies. However, a systematic genetic study of the whole Tai people is still lacking, thus making the population structure as well as the demographic history of this group uninvestigated from genetic perspective. Here we extensively analyzed the variants of hypervariable segments I and II (HVS-I and HVS-II) of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of 719 Tai samples from 19 populations, covering virtually all of the current Tai people's residences. We observed a general close genetic affinity of the Tai people, reflecting a common origin of this group. Taken into account the phylogeographic analyses of their shared components, including haplogroups F1a, M7b and B5a, our study supported a southern Yunnan origin of the Tai people, consistent with the historical records. In line with their diverse cultures and languages, substantial genetic divergences can be observed among different Tai populations that could be attributable to assimilation of maternal components from neighboring populations. Our study further implied the advent of rice agriculture in Mainland Southeast Asia at ∼5 kya (kilo years ago) had greatly promoted the population expansion of the Tai people.