About the Project
The Himalaya, which spans 3,600 km from Myanmar in the East to Afghanistan in the west, is not only geographically diverse but also ethnolinguistically rich. Today, Himalaya is home to several hundred linguistic communities most of which belong to Austroasiatic, Dravidian, Tibeto-Burman, and Indo-European language families. In addition to cultural and linguistic diversity, Himalayan peoples are also morphologically different, likely because they have been living in this part of the world for several millennia and have adapted to different environments within the Himalaya. Little is known about histories of Himalayan populations. When did people start living in the Himalaya and where did they come from? Who were their ancestors and where did they come from? Are different Himalayan population closely related to another? Although anthropologists and linguists have offered some interesting hypothesis about the peopling of the Himalaya, these and many other questions regarding human population histories in the Himalaya remain unanswered. The ultimate goal of this project is to use genomics to understand population histories of every single Himalayan ethnolinguistic population. While doing this, we aim to catalogue diversity in all sectors of life in the Himalaya.
Using Genetic Diversity To Infer Population Histories
We are characterizing genomic diversity in several Himalayan populations in order to understand their population histories. In our first phase, we have focused on populations that are underrepresented in genetics, anthropology, and linguistics. We hope that our analyses will reveal interesting aspects of human population histories of these forgotten peoples.
Identifying Signatures of Local Adaptations In Himalaya
Ethnographic and linguistic evidence suggests that many of the indigenous populations are long-term residents of Himalaya. Hence, enough time has passed allowing different populations to adapted to their local environments, which ranges from sub-tropical climate in low altitude Terai to frozen tundra in high Himalaya. Once we have the genomics data, we will identify genetic factors that influence adaptation to environment in different indigenous populations.
Identifying Genotype-Phenotype Links In Himalaya
Himalayan peoples are also morphologically diverse. Some tall and slender whereas others are short and stalky. While those residing in the plains of Terai have dark complexions, those living in the mountains are fair. Differences in diet and environment likely influence these traits, but so do genetics. We seek to identify genetic variations that influence several phenotypic traits in Himalayan peoples.
Cataloging Human Microbiota In Himalayan Peoples
The bacterial and archeal species that live within the human body are known to influence human health and evolution. Little is known about microbial species in non-European populations. We are currently cataloguing the diversity in gut and oral microbiota in several rural and urban peoples of the Himalaya.
Cataloging Himalayan Surnames
Nepal is home to many diverse groups. Each group has many surnames. By assessing the surnames we have sampled against a large database of Himalayan surnames, we can determine the comprehensiveness of our sampling efforts. Please fill this short form to help us build a database of Himalayan surnames. Thank you!