Second-generation DNA sequencing technologies have propelled the modern genomics revolution

DNA capture methods has also boosted ancient genomics. These methods provide our researchers with the potential to measure rates of molecular change and to determine patterns and rates of genomic change over evolutionary time.

This research group has a current focus on the genomic history of the First People of Australasia sensu, Australia, Papua New Guinea, and Aotearoa/New Zealand.  We conduct this research in partnership with First Peoples and our long-term goal is to break down the dichotomy between researchers and Indigenous people.

Head

Professor David Lambert

University of Sunshine Coast member:

Dr Sankar Subramanian

Postdoctoral fellow:

Dr Sally Wasef

PhD candidate:

Mr Manoharan Kumar

Projects

  • The genomic history of Australia: Professor David Lambert, with Prof. Eske Willerslev (Cambridge and Copenhagen), Dr Sankar Subramanian, Dr Hugh McColl (Copenhagen), Prof. Martin Sikora (Cophenhagen) and Dr Jo Wright.
  • The genomes of the First New Zealanders: with Professor David Lambert, Prof. Lisa Matisoo-Smith (University of Otago) and Associate Prof. Craig Millar (University of Auckland).
  • The genomic and linguistic evolution of the non-Pama-Nyungan people of Australia: Professor David Lambert, with Prof. Eske Willerslev (Cambridge and Copenhagen), Prof. Russell Gray (Director Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History) and Prof. Claire Bowern (Yale University).

Ancient DNA sequences from environmental samples

Griffith University has established a second Ancient DNA laboratory.  This new facility is specifically aimed at the recovery of ancient DNA sequences from environmental samples such as soils, water, sedimentary cores, scats etc. To do this we will use Liquid Handling Robots to enable automated genome recovery from diverse environmental samples, without contamination risk, together with and a dedicated Illumina NextSeq DNA sequencer. For more than 100 years, environmental scientists have studied diverse organism/environment interactions using a variety of conceptual and technical tools. Recently, studies of ancient and historical DNA have come to complement these tools and to occupy a significant place in environmental studies conducted over serial time. The project will complement the existing Ancient DNA complex facility at Griffith University. The new facility will enable many researchers to have unprecedented access to an ancient DNA facility and a high level of technical support.

Present grants

2018 Linkage Infrastructure, Equipment and Facilities, $384,671

Genomic library infrastructure for ancient environmental samples

This project aims to enable automated genome recovery from diverse environmental samples, without contamination risk. For more than 100 years, environmental scientists have studied diverse organism / environment interactions using a variety of conceptual and technical tools. Recently, studies of ancient and historical DNA have come to complement these tools and to occupy a significant place in environmental studies conducted over serial time. The project’s addition to the existing dual Ancient DNA complex facility at Griffith University will comprise two liquid handling workstations, each being housed in separate, self-contained, ancient DNA laboratories. The new facility will enable many researchers to have unprecedented access to an ancient DNA facility and a high level of technical support.

Collaborators: Professor David Lambert; Professor Zhihong Xu; Professor Jon Olley; Associate Professor Rebecca Ford; Associate Professor Adam Brumm; Dr Gilbert Price; Professor Leslie Christidis; Dr Subashchandran Sankarasubramanian; Professor Jizheng He

2016-2019 New Zealand Marsden Fund, $767,000 (NZ)

A genomic study of the people of Wairau Bar: Health, history and origins of the first New Zealanders

The settlement of Aotearoa/New Zealand was a result of the last great migration in human history. While Central Polynesia was settled ~1200-1000 BP and Hawaii ~1000 BP, Aotearoa/New Zealand was not settled until ~750 BP. The timing of settlement of Polynesia and Aotearoa/New Zealand has been a topic of much research in recent years. However, the details of the settlement process is still a matter of debate, and the specific island origins of the colonising canoes that landed in Aotearoa/New Zealand have yet to be identified. This project is aimed at complete genomic sequencing of the remains of the First New Zealanders from the Wairau Bar, one of New Zealand’s oldest and most important archaeological sites.  We propose to then use these genome data to determine their relationships to other First Peoples from the Pacific and beyond.

Collaborators: Professor David Lambert, Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith (University of Otago), Associate Professor Craig Millar (University of Auckland).

2015-2019 Australian Research Council, $570,000

Investigating Holocene India—Australia Connections using Ancient Genomics

A number of studies of human migration suggest that after initial colonisation of Australia around 45,000 years ago, these people remained largely isolated until the arrival of Europeans. In contrast, recent studies have suggested a wave of migration from India into Australia occurred approximately 4,230 years ago. However, a major drawback of these studies is that sequence data used was from modern Indigenous Australians who were potentially admixed with Europeans. To address this issue, we will sequence complete genomes from sub-fossils bones of ancient Indian and Australian people and directly investigate this possible India-Australia connection.

Collaborators: Professor David Lambert, Dr Sankar Subramanian, Dr Michael Westaway, Professor Eske Willerslev (Cambridge and Copenhagen) Dr Kumarasamy Thangaraj (India), Dr Ruiqiang Li (Novogene Bioinformatics Technology Pty. Ltd. Beijing).

2017–2019 The Origins of Australia’s non-Pama-Nyungan speaking people ARC Discovery, $533,000

The non-Pama-Nyungan First People of Australia speak an extraordinary number and diversity of Aboriginal languages, however the origins of these languages and the genomic diversity of the people who speak them are only now starting to be understood. We have recently shown a remarkable concordance between the Pama-Nyungan languages of Australia and the genomic diversity of the people who speak these languages. The current proposal first aims to first test the likelihood of multiple migrations into Australia prior to the arrival of Europeans and second to determine if the phylogenetic relationships among non-Pama-Nyungan languages is also mirrored by the genomic phylogenetic relationships of their speakers.

Collaborators: Professor David Lambert, Eric Round, Eske Willerslev, Craig Millar, Dr Michael Westaway, Claire Bowern and Russel Gray

Grant details

See all of ARCHE’s current grants

Relevant publications

Our publications

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