October 08, 2015
Dog DNA could help trace Pacific migration
New research from Otago University could reveal more about Polynesian migration patterns by using DNA from the now extinct kuri.
Doctoral candidate Karen Grieg has managed to sequence the mitochondrial genomes of 14 kuri represented by bones recovered from Wairau Bar in the northern South Island.
She says the kuri, which were sourced back to five maternal lines, were genetically most similar to modern dogs from Indonesia.
Because she was able to get an almost complete genome sequence using the latest technology, it may be possible to eventually determine the origin of the New Zealand kuri and its relationship to other dogs found
across the Pacific and through Island and Mainland Southeast Asia.
Ms Grieg says she's also interested in their relationship with humans and the environment.
"Being dogs they are quite generalised scavengers so they would be closely related to human communities they were living with. I think they would have had an impact in the area of the villages they were living in but i don't think they would have been a factor on their own so they were part of the wider human impact, so that is something we are interested in looking at," she says.
Karen Grieg's research was published today in the prestigious international journal PLOS ONE.
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