Project description:Although situated ?400 km from the east coast of Africa, Madagascar exhibits cultural, linguistic, and genetic traits from both Southeast Asia and Eastern Africa. The settlement history remains contentious; we therefore used a grid-based approach to sample at high resolution the genomic diversity (including maternal lineages, paternal lineages, and genome-wide data) across 257 villages and 2,704 Malagasy individuals. We find a common Bantu and Austronesian descent for all Malagasy individuals with a limited paternal contribution from Europe and the Middle East. Admixture and demographic growth happened recently, suggesting a rapid settlement of Madagascar during the last millennium. However, the distribution of African and Asian ancestry across the island reveals that the admixture was sex biased and happened heterogeneously across Madagascar, suggesting independent colonization of Madagascar from Africa and Asia rather than settlement by an already admixed population. In addition, there are geographic influences on the present genomic diversity, independent of the admixture, showing that a few centuries is sufficient to produce detectable genetic structure in human populations.
Project description:The Austronesian expansion, one of the last major human migrations, influenced regions as distant as tropical Asia, Remote Oceania and Madagascar, off the east coast of Africa. The identity of the Asian groups that settled Madagascar is particularly mysterious. While language connects Madagascar to the Ma'anyan of southern Borneo, haploid genetic data are more ambiguous. Here, we screened genome-wide diversity in 211 individuals from the Ma'anyan and surrounding groups in southern Borneo. Surprisingly, the Ma'anyan are characterized by a distinct, high frequency genomic component that is not found in Malagasy. This novel genetic layer occurs at low levels across Island Southeast Asia and hints at a more complex model for the Austronesian expansion in this region. In contrast, Malagasy show genomic links to a range of Island Southeast Asian groups, particularly from southern Borneo, but do not have a clear genetic connection with the Ma'anyan despite the obvious linguistic association.
Project description:Madagascar and the Mascarene Islands of Mauritius and Rodrigues underwent catastrophic ecological and landscape transformations, which virtually eliminated their entire endemic vertebrate megafauna during the past millennium. These ecosystem changes have been alternately attributed to either human activities, climate change, or both, but parsing their relative importance, particularly in the case of Madagascar, has proven difficult. Here, we present a multimillennial (approximately the past 8000 years) reconstruction of the southwest Indian Ocean hydroclimate variability using speleothems from the island of Rodrigues, located ?1600 km east of Madagascar. The record shows a recurring pattern of hydroclimate variability characterized by submillennial-scale drying trends, which were punctuated by decadal-to-multidecadal megadroughts, including during the late Holocene. Our data imply that the megafauna of the Mascarenes and Madagascar were resilient, enduring repeated past episodes of severe climate stress, but collapsed when a major increase in human activity occurred in the context of a prominent drying trend.
Project description:We performed a population genomics study of the aye-aye, a highly specialized nocturnal lemur from Madagascar. Aye-ayes have low population densities and extensive range requirements that could make this flagship species particularly susceptible to extinction. Therefore, knowledge of genetic diversity and differentiation among aye-aye populations is critical for conservation planning. Such information may also advance our general understanding of Malagasy biogeography, as aye-ayes have the largest species distribution of any lemur. We generated and analyzed whole-genome sequence data for 12 aye-ayes from three regions of Madagascar (North, West, and East). We found that the North population is genetically distinct, with strong differentiation from other aye-ayes over relatively short geographic distances. For comparison, the average FST value between the North and East aye-aye populations--separated by only 248 km--is over 2.1-times greater than that observed between human Africans and Europeans. This finding is consistent with prior watershed- and climate-based hypotheses of a center of endemism in northern Madagascar. Taken together, these results suggest a strong and long-term biogeographical barrier to gene flow. Thus, the specific attention that should be directed toward preserving large, contiguous aye-aye habitats in northern Madagascar may also benefit the conservation of other distinct taxonomic units. To help facilitate future ecological- and conservation-motivated population genomic analyses by noncomputational biologists, the analytical toolkit used in this study is available on the Galaxy Web site.
Project description:The endemic Malagasy frog radiations are an ideal model system to study patterns and processes of speciation in amphibians. Large-scale diversity patterns of these frogs, together with other endemic animal radiations, led to the postulation of new and the application of known hypotheses of species diversification causing diversity patterns in this biodiversity hotspot. Both extrinsic and intrinsic factors have been studied in a comparative framework, with extrinsic factors usually being related to the physical environment (landscape, climate, river catchments, mountain chains), and intrinsic factors being clade-specific traits or constraints (reproduction, ecology, morphology, physiology). Despite some general patterns emerging from such large-scale comparative analyses, it became clear that the mechanism of diversification in Madagascar may vary among clades, and may be a multifactorial process. In this contribution, I test for intrinsic factors promoting population-level divergence within a clade of terrestrial, diurnal leaf-litter frogs (genus Gephyromantis) that has previously been shown to diversify according to extrinsic factors. Landscape genetic analyses of the microendemic species Gephyromantis enki and its widely distributed, larger sister species Gephyromantis boulengeri over a rugged landscape in the Ranomafana area shows that genetic variance of the smaller species cannot be explained by landscape resistance alone. Both topographic and riverine barriers are found to be important in generating this divergence. This case study yields additional evidence for the probable importance of body size in lineage diversification.
Project description:<b>Background: </b>Yersinia pestis appears to be maintained in multiple, geographically separate, and phylogenetically distinct subpopulations within the highlands of Madagascar. However, the dynamics of these locally differentiated subpopulations through time are mostly unknown. To address that gap and further inform our understanding of plague epidemiology, we investigated the phylogeography of Y. pestis in Madagascar over an 18 year period.<br><br><b>Methodology/principal findings: </b>We generated whole genome sequences for 31 strains and discovered new SNPs that we used in conjunction with previously identified SNPs and variable-number tandem repeats (VNTRs) to genotype 773 Malagasy Y. pestis samples from 1995 to 2012. We mapped the locations where samples were obtained on a fine geographic scale to examine phylogeographic patterns through time. We identified 18 geographically separate and phylogenetically distinct subpopulations that display spatial and temporal stability, persisting in the same locations over a period of almost two decades. We found that geographic areas with higher levels of topographical relief are associated with greater levels of phylogenetic diversity and that sampling frequency can vary considerably among subpopulations and from year to year. We also found evidence of various Y. pestis dispersal events, including over long distances, but no evidence that any dispersal events resulted in successful establishment of a transferred genotype in a new location during the examined time period.<br><br><b>Conclusions/significance: </b>Our analysis suggests that persistent endemic cycles of Y. pestis transmission within local areas are responsible for the long term maintenance of plague in Madagascar, rather than repeated episodes of wide scale epidemic spread. Landscape likely plays a role in maintaining Y. pestis subpopulations in Madagascar, with increased topographical relief associated with increased levels of localized differentiation. Local ecological factors likely affect the dynamics of individual subpopulations and the associated likelihood of observing human plague cases in a given year in a particular location.
Project description:The challenges associated with sampling rare species or populations can limit our ability to make accurate and informed estimates of biodiversity for clades or ecosystems. This may be particularly true for tropical trees, which tend to be poorly sampled, and are thought to harbor extensive cryptic diversity. Here, we integrate genomics, morphology, and geography to estimate the number of species in a clade of dioecious tropical trees (Canarium L.; Burseraceae) endemic to Madagascar, for which previous taxonomic treatments have recognized between one and 33 species. By sampling genomic data from even a limited number of individuals per taxon, we were able to clearly reject both previous hypotheses, and support instead an intermediate number of taxa. We recognize at least six distinct clades based on genetic structure and species delimitation analyses that correspond clearly with geographic and discrete morphological differences. Two widespread clades co-occur broadly throughout eastern wet forests, one clade is endemic to western dry forests, and several slightly admixed clades are more narrowly distributed in mountainous regions in the north. Multiple previously described taxa were recovered as paraphyletic in our analyses, some of which were associated with admixed individuals, suggesting that hybridization contributes to taxonomic difficulties in Canarium. An improved understanding of Canarium species diversity has important implications for conservation efforts and understanding the origins of diversity in Madagascar. Our study shows that even limited genomic sampling, when combined with geography and morphology, can greatly improve estimates of species diversity for difficult tropical clades.
Project description:The island of Madagascar, situated off the southeast coast of Africa, shows the first evidence of human presence ~?10,000 years ago; however, other archaeological data indicates a settlement of the modern peoples of the island distinctly more recent, perhaps >?1500 years ago. Bushpigs of the genus Potamochoerus (family Suidae), are today widely distributed in Madagascar and presumed to have been introduced from Africa at some stage by human immigrants to the island. However, disparities about their origins in Madagascar have been presented in the literature, including the possibility of endemic subspecies, and few empirical data are available. Furthermore, the separation of bushpigs in Madagascar from their mainland relatives may have favoured the evolution of a different repertoire of immune genes first due to a founder effect and then as a response to distinct pathogens compared to their ancestors. Molecular analysis confirmed the species status of the bushpig in Madagascar as P. larvatus, likely introduced from the central region of southern Africa, with no genetic evidence for the recognition of eastern and western subspecies as suggested from previous cranial morphology examination. Investigation of the immunologically important SLA-DQB1 peptide-binding region showed a different immune repertoire of bushpigs in Madagascar compared to those on the African mainland, with seventeen exon-2 haplotypes unique to bushpigs in Madagascar (2/28 haplotypes shared). This suggests that the MHC diversity of the Madagascar populations may have enabled Malagasy bushpigs to adapt to new environments.