Pengfei Qin , Mark Stoneking
Although initial studies suggested that Denisovan ancestry was found only in modern human populations from island Southeast Asia and Oceania, more recent studies have suggested that Denisovan ancestry may be more widespread. However, the geographic extent of Denisovan ancestry has not been determined, and moreover the relationship between the Denisovan ancestry in Oceania and that elsewhere has not been studied. Here we analyze genome-wide SNP data from 2493 individuals from 221 worldwide populations, and show that there is a widespread signal of a very low level of Denisovan ancestry across Eastern Eurasian and Native American (EE/NA) populations. We also verify a higher level of Denisovan ancestry in Oceania than that in EE/NA; the Denisovan ancestry in Oceania is correlated with the amount of New Guinea ancestry, but not the amount of Australian ancestry, indicating that recent gene flow from New Guinea likely accounts for signals of Denisovan ancestry across Oceania. However, Denisovan ancestry in EE/NA populations is equally correlated with their New Guinea or their Australian ancestry, suggesting a common source for the Denisovan ancestry in EE/NA and Oceanian populations. Our results suggest that Denisovan ancestry in EE/NA is derived either from common ancestry with, or gene flow from, the common ancestor of New Guineans and Australians, indicating a more complex history involving East Eurasians and Oceanians than previously suspected.