Genes Genomics. 2023 Jan 6. doi: 10.1007/s13258-022-01363-5. Online ahead of print.
BACKGROUND: Jeju Island is the largest island of South Korea, located southwest far from the mainland of Korea, and has a unique history and its own cultures that are distinguished from those of the other regions of the Korean mainland. However, the Jeju population has not been deeply investigated to date to understand their genetic structure, which may reflect their historical and geographical background.
OBJECTIVE: To identify the genetic characteristics and biogeographic origin of people of Jeju Island based on the statistical analysis of genetic data using lineage markers.
METHODS: 17 Y-STRs data for 615 unrelated males and mitochondrial DNA haplogroup data for 799 unrelated individuals residing on Jeju Island were generated, and analyzed to investigate genetic diversity and genetic characteristics using statistical methods including pairwise Fst or Rst, Analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) and Multidimensional scaling (MDS).
RESULTS: For male individuals of Jeju Island, unique genetic characteristics were observed in the analysis of Y-STRs, including low haplotype diversity, strong association with surnames, genetic difference from other regions of Korea, and common genetic variation of the Y-STR loci known to be predominant in Northern populations, such as Mongolians. Statistical analysis of the mitochondrial DNA haplogroups also revealed similar results that showed low haplogroup diversity and high frequency of haplogroup Y prevalent mostly in ethnic populations around the Sea of Okhotsk in Northeastern Asia. All these results suggest that Jeju Island is genetically distinct from other regions of Korea, possibly being a subpopulation in Korea, and related closely to Northern Asian populations.
CONCLUSION: The findings in the genetic approach could support understanding of the historical background of Jeju Island that is consistent with evidence from other multidisciplinary studies.