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Relaxed observance of traditional marriage rules allows social connectivity without loss of genetic diversity

Hazelton, Martin L.; Guillot, Elsa G.; Karafet, Tatiana M.; Stephen Lansing, J.; Sudoyo, Herawati; Cox, Murray P.


Martin L. Hazelton

Elsa G. Guillot

Tatiana M. Karafet

J. Stephen Lansing

Herawati Sudoyo

Murray P. Cox


© 2015 The Author. Marriage rules, the community prescriptions that dictate who an individual can or cannot marry, are extremely diverse and universally present in traditional societies. A major focus of research in the early decades of modern anthropology, marriage rules impose social and economic forces that help structure societies and forge connections between them. However, in those early anthropological studies, the biological benefits or disadvantages of marriage rules could not be determined. We revisit this question by applying a novel simulation framework and genome-wide data to explore the effects of Asymmetric Prescriptive Alliance, an elaborate set of marriage rules that has been a focus of research for many anthropologists. Simulations show that strict adherence to these marriage rules reduces genetic diversity on the autosomes, X chromosome and mitochondrial DNA, but relaxed compliance produces genetic diversity similar to random mating. Genome-wide data from the Indonesian community of Rindi, one of the early study populations for Asymmetric Prescriptive Alliance, are more consistent with relaxed compliance than strict adherence. We therefore suggest that, in practice, marriage rules are treated with sufficient flexibility to allow social connectivity without significant degradation of biological diversity.


Hazelton, M. L., Guillot, E. G., Karafet, T. M., Stephen Lansing, J., Sudoyo, H., & Cox, M. P. (2015). Relaxed observance of traditional marriage rules allows social connectivity without loss of genetic diversity. Molecular Biology and Evolution, 32(9), 2254-2262.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date May 12, 2015
Publication Date Jan 1, 2015
Journal Molecular Biology and Evolution
Print ISSN 0737-4038
Electronic ISSN 1537-1719
Publisher Oxford University Press (OUP)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 32
Issue 9
Pages 2254-2262
Keywords mating systems, Asymmetric Prescriptive Alliance, genetic diversity, Indonesia, Approximate Bayesian Computation
Public URL
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