Zhuang Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

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The Zhuang people are an ethnic group that is indigenous to the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in southern China. They call themselves the Cuengh or Bouxcuengh. The Northern Zhuang and Southern Zhuang languages are members of the Kra–Dai linguistic family.

Zhuang men's high proportion of the Y-chromosomal haplogroup O2a shows their association with Austro-Asiatic peoples of southeastern Asia. O2a is the only haplogroup found among the Nicobarese, the Shompen, the Mang of southern China and Vietnam, and the Mlabri of Thailand and it's the majority haplogroup among such other peoples of southern China as the Yerong, Mollao, Buyang, Laqua, and Maonan.

Major studies of Zhuang people

Yong-Gang Yao, Long Nie, Henry Harpending, Yun-Xin Fu, Zhi-Gang Yuan, and Ya-Ping Zhang. "Genetic relationship of Chinese ethnic populations revealed by mtDNA sequence diversity." American Journal of Physical Anthropology 118:1 (2002): pages 63-76.
      Includes 83 mtDNA samples from Zhuang individuals from Guangxi. Page 66 indicates that the Zhuang have less mtDNA haplotype diversity than Cantonese Chinese, Bai, and Dai people, but more than Hans from Taiwan, Uygurs, Kazakhs, and Nu. Page 69's PCA plotting found "close affinity" between the Zhuang, Thai, and Dai peoples. The Zhuang are somewhat closer to the Cantonese than to Taiwanese Hans.

Jiao-Yang Tian, Hua-Wei Wang, Yu-Chun Li, Wen Zhang, Yong-Gang Yao, Jits van Straten, Martin B. Richards, and Qing-Peng Kong. "A genetic contribution from the Far East into Ashkenazi Jews via the ancient Silk Road." Scientific Reports 5 (February 11, 2015): article number 8377.
      Some Zhuang people carry the mtDNA haplogroup M33c that is also found among other ethnic groups of east and southeast Asia and originated in China.

Hui Li, Bo Wen, Shu-Juo Chen, Bing Su, Patcharin Pramoonjago, Yangfan Liu, Shangling Pan, Zhendong Qin, Wenhong Liu, Xu Cheng, Ningning Yang, Xin Li, Dinhbinh Tran, Daru Lu, Mu-Tsu Hsu, Ranjan Deka, Sangkot Marzuki, Chia-Chen Tan, and Li Jin. "Paternal genetic affinity between western Austronesians and Daic populations." BMC Evolutionary Biology 8 (2008): article number 146.
      Table 1 indicates that Zhuang people - specifically Northern Zhuang from Wuming County in Guangxi Province and Southern Zhuang from Chongzuo County in Guangxi Province - participated in this study of diverse ethnic groups from China, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Y-DNA data was gathered from 22 Northern Zhuang an 15 Southern Zhuang samples. According to Table 2, Y-DNA haplogroup O* was found among 13.6% of the Northern Zhuang and 13.3% of the Southern Zhuang, O1a* was found among 20% of the Southern Zhuang, O1a2 among 4.6% of Northern Zhuang, O2a* among 72.7% of Northern Zhuang and 60% of Southern Zhuang, O2a1 among 6.7% of Southern Zhuang, O3a1 among 4.6% of Northern Zhuang, and O3a5a among 4.6% of Northern Zhuang.

Qing Zhao, Shangling Pan, Zhendong Qin, Xiaoyun Cai, Yan Lu, Sara E. Farina, Chengwu Liu, Junhua Peng, Jieshun Xu, Ruixing Yin, Shilin Li, Jin Li, and Hui Li. "Gene flow between Zhuang and Han populations in the China-Vietnam borderland." Journal of Human Genetics 55 (2010): pages 774-776.
      The Hei-Yi Zhuang (Black Clothes Zhuang), also known as the Minz, are a subgroup of Zhuang people who live in Napo County, near Vietnam's border. This study says that they have preserved Zhuang culture better than other Zhuang groups. The purpose of this study, which incorporated both mtDNA and Y-DNA data from 130 Minz individuals and compared them to other groups including Han Chinese living in Napo, was to either confirm or deny predictions that the Minz have long been isolated from other populations. Their results showed that there had been matrilineal gene flow between the Minz and the Napo Hans, and that multiple kinds of non-Minz DNA had entered the Minz gene pool, such that they cannot be considered an isolated population in the genetic sense. Excerpts from the body text:

"The Y chromosomes from the Minz samples were clustered into 12 haplogroups (Table 1). Four of these haplogroups, O1a*, O2a*, C3* and D1, have high frequencies in the Minz samples. O1a* and O2a* are dominant in the Daic ethnic group, which includes the Zhuang, suggesting that the Minz are a typical Daic population. C3* is distributed widely across East Asia [...] D1 is common in Tibet and neighboring areas, but is very rare in Southeast Asia. The moderate frequencies of these two haplogroups among the Minz may result from the genetic drift of certain ancestral contributors to the Minz. The Han sample from Napo only formed eight haplogroups (Table 1), and all of these haplogroups are shared with the Minz. The haplogroup specific to Southeast Asia, O2a*, reaches its highest frequency among the Napo Han. O3a3c1 is the second highest occurrence in this population. A previous study proved that the Han Chinese originated in North China, and the Y chromosomes of Han contain mostly haplogroup O3.

On the maternal side, mtDNA haplogroups for the Minz are mainly D4, R9c, M*, M7b* and B4a, whereas those for the Napo Han are mainly M7b*, M*, M7* and R9b. These haplogroups are predominantly derived from southern China and are not Han dominant [...]"

Li Shi, Xiao-qin Huang, Lei Shi, Yu-fen Tao, Yu-feng Yao, Liang Yu, Ke-qin Lin, Wen Yi, Hao Sun, Katsushi Tokunaga, and Jia-you Chu. "HLA polymorphism of the Zhuang population reflects the common HLA characteristics among Zhuang-Dong language-speaking populations." Journal of Zhejiang University SCIENCE B 12:6 (June 2011): pages 428-435.
      This study of the Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) region on Chromosome 6 compares the Zhuang to other ethnic groups in southern China.

Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] A total of 13 HLA-A, 24 HLA-B, 22 HLA-C, and 18 HLA-DRB1 were identified in 104 Zhuang individuals. The frequencies of HLA-A*11:01, A*02:07, A*24:02, A*02:03, and A*33:03 on A loci, B*15:02, B*58:01, B*46:01, and B*13:01 on B loci, C*03:04, C*08:01, C*01:02, C*03:02, and C*07:02 on C loci, and DRB1*15:01, DRB1*16:02, DRB1*14:01, DRB1*15:02, and DRB1*03:01 on the DRB1 loci were S>10%. The A*33:03-C*03:02-B*58:01-DRB1*03:01 and A*02:07-C*01:02-B*46:01-DRB1*14:01 haplotypes were predominant in the Zhuang. The phylogenetic tree, as well as the analysis of haplotypes, suggested that the Zhuang are genetically similar to southern Chinese populations, especially the Zhuang-Dong language-speaking populations, such as the Bouyei, Dai, and Maonan. Even though the Zhuang and southern Chinese populations shared common alleles and haplotypes, the Zhuang has maintained its unique genetic characteristics."

Excerpts from the Discussion section:

"[...] A*11:01-B*15:02-DRB1*15:01 was predominant in the Zhuang, but was not identified in other East Asian populations. Except the different frequencies of predominant haplotypes in different populations, some unique alleles were only identified in the Zhuang, such as A*02:06-B*46:01-DRB1*14:01, A*11:01-B*51:01-DRB1*11:01, A*24:02-B*13:01-DRB1*15:01, A*24:02-B*15:02-DRB1*15:02, and A*02:06-C*01:02-B*46:01. Therefore, the Zhuang is a typical southern Chinese population, but maintains its unique HLA characteristics as well."

Lai-Yu Kwok, Jiachao Zhang, Zhuang Guo, and Heping Zhang. "Characterization of Fecal Microbiota across Seven Chinese Ethnic Groups by Quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction." PLoS ONE 9:4 (April 2014): e93631.
      The authors attempted to use multiple analytical methods to find clustering patterns for the 314 individuals belonging to 7 ethnic groups who live in China. They found "relatively high similarity" between the Zhuang and Han Chinese peoples.

Excerpts from the Results section:

"Results from the cluster analysis supported such difference (Figure 3C and Figure S2). Samples from the Han and Zhuang formed a distinct cluster separated from the other ethnic groups. The Bai, Kazakh and Uyghur (urban-dwelling) grouped together. The Tibetan and Mongolian (rural-dwelling) were closer to each other than to other ethnic groups."

Excerpts from the Discussion section:

"Samples from both the Han and Zhuang groups contained a higher amount of the Clostridium leptum group and less of the Clostridium perfringens group, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium genera, as compared to most other ethnic minority groups."

Ming Liao, Yuanliang Xie, Yan Mao, Zheng Lu, Aihua Tan, Chunlei Wu, Zhifu Zhang, Yang Chen, Tianyu Li, Yu Ye, Ziting Yao, Yonghua Jiang, Hongzhe Li, Xiaoming Li, Xiaobo Yang, Qiuyan Wang, and Zengnan Mo. "Comparative analyses of fecal microbiota in Chinese isolated Yao population, minority Zhuang and rural Han by 16sRNA sequencing." Scientific Reports 8 (2018): article number 1142.
      Includes 28 Zhuang samples that were compared to Yao and Han Chinese samples.

Hongbin Lin, Hao Fan, Feng Zhang, Xiaoqin Huang, Keqin Lin, Lei Shi, Songnian Hu, Jiayou Chu, and Duen-Mei Wang. "Genetic Relationships of Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China Revealed by Microsatellite Markers." PLoS One 5:3 (March 29, 2010): e9895.
      Data from 95 Zhuang individuals were included in this study and compared to the Han Chinese and Tu peoples.

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