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Health Sciences staff profiles

Professor Lisa Matisoo-Smith

PositionProfessor of Biological Anthropology and Head of the Department of Anatomy
DepartmentDepartment of Anatomy
QualificationsBA(Berkeley) PhD(Auck)
Research summaryBiological anthropology and human genetic variation in ancient and modern populations
TeachingBiological athropology, human variation, molecular anthropology, human evolution, ancient DNA
Memberships
  • Fellow, Royal Society of New Zealand
  • Fellow, Society of Antiquaries, London
  • Director, Allan Wilson at Otago Research Theme

Research

The Matisoo-Smith lab focuses primarily on identifying the origins of Pacific peoples and their commensal plants and animals in order to better understand the settlement, history and prehistory of the Pacific and New Zealand. They utilize both ancient and modern DNA methods to answer a range of anthropological questions regarding population histories, dispersals and interactions.

The Matisoo-Smith team is working on a range of projects funded by a variety of organizations, but the overarching research theme of the lab and the research group is Molecular Anthropology and Ancient DNA analyses. They have a purpose built, state-of-the-art ancient DNA laboratory, located in the University of Otago Richardson Building, as well as a fully equipped modern DNA lab in the University's Lindo Ferguson Building.

Major projects include:

  • A genomic study of the people of Wairau Bar: health, history and origins of the first New Zealanders
  • Africa to Aotearoa: A genetic ancestry study of New Zealanders
  • National Geographic's Genographic Project – Pacific Region PI
  • Allan Wilson at Otago: A Research Theme in Human Evolutionary Genomics
  • Evidence for Polynesian contact in South America: Redrawing the Polynesian Triangle
  • Following the Phoenicians – Using ancient DNA to track Phoenician settlement in the Mediterranean

Publications

Malaspinas, A.-S., Westaway, M. C., Muller, C., Sousa, V. C., Lao, O., Alves, I., … Matisoo-Smith, E. A., … Willerslev, E. (2016). A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature, 538, 207-214. doi: 10.1038/nature18299

Matisoo-Smith, E. A., Gosling, A. L., Boocock, J., Kardallsky, O., Kurumilian, Y., Roudesli-Chebbi, S., … Zalloua, P. A. (2016). A European mitochondrial haplotype identified in ancient Phoenician remains from Carthage, North Africa. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155046. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155046

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2015). Ancient DNA and the human settlement of the Pacific: A review. Journal of Human Evolution, 79, 93-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.10.017

Gosling, A. L., Buckley, H. R., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Merriman, T. R. (2015). Pacific populations, metabolic disease and 'just-so stories': A critique of the 'Thrifty Genotype' hypothesis in Oceania. Annals of Human Genetics, 79(6), 470-480. doi: 10.1111/ahg.12132

Knapp, M., Horsburgh, K. A., Prost, S., Stanton, J.-A., Buckley, H. R., Walter, R. K., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2012). Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders. PNAS, 109(45), 18350-18354. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209896109

Malaspinas, A.-S., Westaway, M. C., Muller, C., Sousa, V. C., Lao, O., Alves, I., … Matisoo-Smith, E. A., … Willerslev, E. (2016). A genomic history of Aboriginal Australia. Nature, 538, 207-214. doi: 10.1038/nature18299

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. A., Gosling, A. L., Boocock, J., Kardallsky, O., Kurumilian, Y., Roudesli-Chebbi, S., … Zalloua, P. A. (2016). A European mitochondrial haplotype identified in ancient Phoenician remains from Carthage, North Africa. PLoS ONE, 11(5), e0155046. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0155046

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2015). Ancient DNA and the human settlement of the Pacific: A review. Journal of Human Evolution, 79, 93-104. doi: 10.1016/j.jhevol.2014.10.017

Journal - Research Article

Gosling, A. L., Buckley, H. R., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Merriman, T. R. (2015). Pacific populations, metabolic disease and 'just-so stories': A critique of the 'Thrifty Genotype' hypothesis in Oceania. Annals of Human Genetics, 79(6), 470-480. doi: 10.1111/ahg.12132

Journal - Research Article

Knapp, M., Horsburgh, K. A., Prost, S., Stanton, J.-A., Buckley, H. R., Walter, R. K., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2012). Complete mitochondrial DNA genome sequences from the first New Zealanders. PNAS, 109(45), 18350-18354. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1209896109

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Human biology and population histories in the Pacific: Is there such thing as a Lapita people? In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 389-408). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Greig, K., Walter, R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Dogs and people in Southeast Asia and the Pacific. In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 462-482). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Tromp, M., Dudgeon, J. V., Buckley, H. R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2016). Dental calculus and plant diet in Oceania. In M. Oxenham & H. Buckley (Eds.), Routledge handbook of bioarchaeology in Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands. (pp. 599-622). Abingdon, UK: Routledge.

Chapter in Book - Research

Rawlence, N. J., Collins, C. J., Anderson, C. N. K., Maxwell, J. J., Smith, I. W. G., Robertson, B. C., Knapp, M., Horsburgh, K. A., Stanton, J.-A. L., Scofield, R. P., … Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Waters, J. M. (2016). Human-mediated extirpation of the unique Chatham Islands sea lion and implications for the conservation management of remaining New Zealand sea lion populations. Molecular Ecology, 25(16), 3950-3961. doi: 10.1111/mec.13726

Journal - Research Article

Greig, K., Boocock, J., Prost, S., Horsburgh, K. A., Jacomb, C., Walter, R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2015). Complete mitochondrial genomes of New Zealand's first dogs. PLoS ONE, 10(10), e0138536. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0138536

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2015). Tracking Austronesian expansion into the Pacific via the paper mulberry plant. PNAS, 112(44), 13432-13433. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518576112

Journal - Research Other

Rawlence, N. J., Perry, G. L. W., Smith, I. W. G., Scofield, R. P., Tennyson, A. J. D., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., Boessenkool, S., … Waters, J. M. (2015). Radiocarbon-dating and ancient DNA reveal rapid replacement of extinct prehistoric penguins. Quaternary Science Reviews, 112, 59-65. doi: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2015.01.011

Journal - Research Article

Rawlence, N. J., Kennedy, M., Anderson, C. N. K., Prost, S., Till, C. E., Smith, I. W. G., Scofield, R. P., … Hamel, J., Lalas, C., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Waters, J. M. (2015). Geographically contrasting biodiversity reductions in a widespread New Zealand seabird. Molecular Ecology, 24(18), 4605-4616. doi: 10.1111/mec.13338

Journal - Research Article

Clarke, A. C., Prost, S., Stanton, J.-A. L., White, W. T. J., Kaplan, M. E., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., and the Genographic Consortium. (2014). From cheek swabs to consensus sequences: An A to Z protocol for high-throughput DNA sequencing of complete human mitochondrial genomes. BMC Genomics, 15, 68. doi: 10.1186/1471-2164-15-68

Journal - Research Article

Collins, C. J., Rawlence, N. J., Prost, S., Anderson, C. N. K., Knapp, M., Scofield, R. P., Robertson, B. C., Smith, I., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., … Waters, J. M. (2014). Extinction and recolonization of coastal megafauna following human arrival in New Zealand. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, 281, 20140097. doi: 10.1098/rspb.2014.0097

Journal - Research Article

Elhaik, E., Tatarinova, T., Chebotarev, D., Piras, I. S., Calò, C. M., De Montis, A., … Matisoo-Smith, L., … and the Genographic Consortium, including Clarke, A. C. (2014). Geographic population structure analysis of worldwide human populations infers their biogeographical origins. Nature Communications, 5, 3513. doi: 10.1038/ncomms4513

Journal - Research Article

Gosling, A. L., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Merriman, T. R. (2014). Hyperuricaemia in the Pacific: Why the elevated serum urate levels? Rheumatology International, 34(6), 743-757. doi: 10.1007/s00296-013-2922-x

Journal - Research Article

Rawlence, N. J., Till, C. E., Scofield, R. P., Tennyson, A. J. D., Collins, C. J., Lalas, C., … Matisoo-Smith, E., Waters, J. M., Spencer, H. G., & Kennedy, M. (2014). Strong phylogeographic structure in a sedentary seabird, the Stewart Island Shag (Leucocarbo chalconotus). PLoS ONE, 9(3), e90769. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0090769

Journal - Research Article

Robins, J. H., Tintinger, V., Aplin, K. P., Hingston, M., Matisoo-Smith, E., Penny, D., & Lavery, S. D. (2014). Phylogenetic species identification in Rattus highlights rapid radiation and morphological similarity of New Guinean species. PLoS ONE, 9(5), e98002. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0098002

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2014). No evidence against Polynesian dispersal of chickens to pre-Columbian South America. PNAS, 111(35), E3583. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1410780111

Journal - Research Other

Summerhayes, G. R., Kennedy, J., Matisoo-Smith, E., Mandui, H., Ambrose, W., Allen, C., … Wadra, F. (2014). Lepong: A new obsidian source in the Admiralty Islands, Papua New Guinea. Geoarchaeology, 29(3), 238-248. doi: 10.1002/gea.21475

Journal - Research Article

Badro, D. A., Douaihy, B., Haber, M., Youhanna, S. C., Salloum, A., Ghassibe-Sabbagh, M., … Matisoo-Smith, E., the Genographic Consortium, including Clarke, A. C. (2013). Y-chromosome and mtDNA genetics reveal significant contrasts in affinities of modern Middle Eastern populations with European and African populations. PLoS ONE, 8(1), e54616. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0054616

Journal - Research Article

Gosling, A. L., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Merriman, T. R. (2014). Gout in Māori: Modern affliction or ancestral trait? Rheumatology, 53(5), 773-774. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/ket299

Journal - Research Other

Haber, M., Gauguier, D., Youhanna, S., Patterson, N., Moorjani, P., Botigué, L. R., … Matisoo-Smith, E., … Zalloua, P. A. (2013). Genome-wide diversity in the levant reveals recent structuring by culture. PLoS Genetics, 9(2), e1003316. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1003316

Journal - Research Article

Horsburgh, K. A., Prost, S., Gosling, A., Stanton, J.-A., Rand, C., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2013). The genetic diversity of the Nguni breed of African Cattle (Bos spp.): Complete mitochondrial genomes of haplogroup T1. PLoS ONE, 8(8), e71956. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0071956

Journal - Research Article

Gonzalez, A., Clark, G., O'Connor, S., & Matisoo-Smith, L. (2013). A 3000 year old dog burial in Timor-Leste. Australian Archaeology, 76, 13-20.

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., Quiroz, D., Beavan, N., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2013). Polynesian chickens in the New World: A detailed application of a commensal approach. Archaeology in Oceania, 48(2), 101-119. doi: 10.1002/arco.5007

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., Clarke, A. C., Ladefoged, T., Robins, J., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2013). DNA and Pacific commensal models: Applications, construction, limitations, and future prospects. Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, 8(1), 37-65. doi: 10.1080/15564894.2012.761299

Journal - Research Article

Harlow, G. E., Summerhayes, G. R., Davies, H. L., & Matisoo-Smith, L. (2012). A jade gouge from Emirau Island, Papua New Guinea (Early Lapita context, 3300 BP): A unique jadeitite. European Journal of Mineralogy, 24(2), 391-399. doi: 10.1127/0935-1221/2012/0024-2175

Journal - Research Article

Knapp, M., Clarke, A. C., Horsburgh, K. A., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2012). Setting the stage-building and working in an ancient DNA laboratory. Annals of Anatomy, 194(1), 3-6. doi: 10.1016/j.aanat.2011.03.008

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2012). The great blue highway: Human migration in the Pacific. In M. H. Crawford & B. C. Campbell (Eds.), Causes and consequences of human migration: An evolutionary perspective. (pp. 388-416). New York, NY: Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Matisoo-Smith, E., & Daugherty, C. (2012). Africa to Aotearoa: The longest migration. Journal of the Royal Society of New Zealand, 42(2), 87-92. doi: 10.1080/03036758.2012.673495

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E., & Horsburgh, K. A. (2012). DNA for archaeologists. Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 233p.

Authored Book - Research

Storey, A. A., Athens, J. S., Bryant, D., Carson, M., Emery, K., deFrance, S., Higham, C., … Walter, R., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2012). Investigating the global dispersal of chickens in prehistory using ancient mitochondrial DNA signatures. PLoS ONE, 7(7), e39171. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0039171

Journal - Research Article

Aplin, K. P., Suzuki, H., Chinen, A. A., Chesser, R. T., ten Have, J., Donnellan, S. C., … Matisoo-Smith, E., … Cooper, A. (2011). Multiple geographic origins of commensalism and complex dispersal history of Black Rats. PLoS ONE, 6(11), e26357. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0026357

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., Quiroz, D., Beavan, N., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2011). Pre-Columbian chickens of the Americas: A critical review of the hypotheses and evidence for their origins. Rapa Nui Journal, 25(2), 5-19.

Journal - Research Article

Adler, C. J., Haak, W., Donlon, D., Cooper, A., and the Genographic Consortium, including Clarke, A. C., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2011). Survival and recovery of DNA from ancient teeth and bones. Journal of Archaeological Science, 38(5), 956-964. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.11.010

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2011). Human biological evidence for Polynesian contacts with the Americas: Finding Maui on Mocha? In T. L. Jones, A. A. Storey, E. A. Matisoo-Smith & J. M. Ramírez-Aliaga (Eds.), Polynesians in America: Pre-Columbian contacts with the New World. (pp. 208-222). Plymouth, UK: AltaMira Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Haak, W., Balanovsky, O., Sanchez, J. J., Zaporozhchenko, V., Koshel, S., Alder, C. J., … the Genographic Consortium, including Clarke, A. C., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2010). Ancient DNA from European early Neolithic farmers reveals their Near Eastern affinities. PLoS Biology, 8(11), e1000536. doi: 10.1371/journal.pbio.1000536

Journal - Research Article

Robins, J. H., McLenachan, P. A., Phillips, M. J., McComish, B. J., Matisoo-Smith, E., & Ross, H. A. (2010). Evolutionary relationships and divergence times among the native rats of Australia. BMC Evolutionary Biology, 10, 375. doi: 10.1186/1471-2148-10-375

Journal - Research Article

Zhadanov, S. I., Dulik, M. C., Markley, M., Jennings, G. W., Gaieski, J. B., Elias, G., … and the Genographic Project Consortium, including Matisoo-Smith, L. (2010). Genetic heritage and native identity of the Seaconke Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts. American Journal of Physical Anthropology, 142(4), 579-589. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.21281

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., Spriggs, M., Bedford, S., Hawkins, S. C., Robins, J. H., Huynen, L., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2010). Mitochondrial DNA from 3000-year old chickens at the Teouma site, Vanuatu. Journal of Archaeological Science, 37(10), 2459-2468. doi: 10.1016/j.jas.2010.05.006

Journal - Research Article

Seelenfreund, D., Clarke, A. C., Oyanedel, N., Piña, R., Lobos, S., Matisoo-Smith, E. A., & Seelenfreund, A. (2010). Paper mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) as a commensal model for human mobility in Oceania: Anthropological, botanical and genetic considerations. New Zealand Journal of Botany, 48(3-4), 231-247. doi: 10.1080/0028825X.2010.520323

Journal - Research Article

Summerhayes, G., Matisoo-Smith, E., Mandui, H., Allen, J., Specht, J., Hogg, N., & McPherson, S. (2010). Tamuarawai (EQS): An Early Lapita site on Emirau, New Ireland, PNG. Journal of Pacific Archaeology, 1(1), 62-75.

Journal - Research Article

El-Sibai, M., Platt, D. E., Haber, M., Xue, Y., Youhanna, S. C., Wells, R. S., … and the Genographic Consortium, including Matisoo-Smith, L. (2009). Geographical structure of the Y-chromosomal genetic landscape of the Levant: A coastal-inland contrast. Annals of Human Genetics, 73, 568-581. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-1809.2009.00538.x

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E., & Robins, J. (2009). Mitochondrial DNA evidence for the spread of Pacific rats through Oceania. Biological Invasions, 11, 1521-1527. doi: 10.1007/s10530-008-9404-1

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E., Hingston, M., Summerhayes, G., Robins, J., Ross, H. A., & Hendy, M. (2009). On the rat trail in Near Oceania: Applying the commensal model to the question of the Lapita colonization. Pacific Science, 63(4), 465-475.

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2009). The commensal model for human settlement of the Pacific 10 years on: What can we say and where to now? Journal of Island & Coastal Archaeology, 4(2), 151-163. doi: 10.1080/15564890903155273

Journal - Research Article

Storey, A. A., Ladefoged, T., & Matisoo-Smith, E. A. (2008). Counting your chickens: Density and distribution of chicken remains in archaeological sites of Oceania. International Journal of Osteoarchaeology, 18, 240-261. doi: 10.1002/oa.947

Journal - Research Article

Robins, J. H., McLenachan, P. A., Phillips, M. J., Craig, L., Ross, H. A., & Matisoo-Smith, E. (2008). Dating of divergences within the Rattus genus phylogeny using whole mitochondrial genomes. Molecular Phylogenetics & Evolution, 49, 460-466. doi: 10.1016/j.ympev.2008.08.001

Journal - Research Article

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2007). Animal translocations, genetic variation, and the human settlement of the Pacific. In J. S. Friedlaender (Ed.), Genes, language, and culture history in the Southwest Pacific. (pp. 157-170). Oxford University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

Matisoo-Smith, E. (2007). The peopling of Oceania. In M. Crawford (Ed.), Anthropological genetics: Theory, methods and applications. (pp. 409-432). Cambridge University Press.

Chapter in Book - Research

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