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More About Haplogroups

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Haplogroup is the term scientists use to describe a group of mitochondrial or Y-chromosome sequences that are more closely related to one another than to others. The term haplogroup is a combination of haplotype and group. In this context, haplotype refers either to the DNA sequence of one's mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from one's mother, or to the DNA sequence of one's Y chromosome, which is passed from fathers to their sons. Due to their unusual transmission, the mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome contain rich information about your maternal and paternal lines, respectively. But together, they make up a small part of your genome; you inherit one copy of the majority of the genome from each of your parents.

Everyone can trace their maternal ancestry back to a single woman, but members of a mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroup can trace their maternal ancestry back to a more recent common ancestor, and the same applies to paternal ancestry and the Y chromosome.

The 23andMe Haplogroup reports can shed light on the origins of some of our ancestors and on their migrations over tens of thousands of years. Your Maternal Haplogroup report tells you about your maternal-line ancestors, from your mother through her mother and beyond. If you are male, your Paternal Haplogroup report tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond. Haplogroups are assigned by detecting certain genetic variants unique to each haplogroup.

 

Maps | Names and Stars (*) | Tree

 

Haplogroup maps

Maternal Haplogroup

The Maternal Haplogroup report displays a series of maps showing the migration of humans with a certain haplogroup. These maps reflect human migration over tens of thousands of years, a period in which humans migrated from eastern Africa to inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica. As they spread out geographically, they also diversified genetically.

When a genetic variant arises in an individual and is passed down through the paternal or maternal lines, it will be present in living descendants. So by looking at the pattern of mutations in present-day populations, geneticists can trace human genetic and migration history.

maternal_dist.png

Paternal Haplogroup

The haplogroup map shows you where most of the people with a given haplogroup lived prior to the age of European exploration ~500 years ago. Before that time people rarely moved between continents, so the map shows where people with a particular haplogroup lived for thousands of years.

These maps reflect human migration over tens of thousands of years, a period in which humans migrated from eastern Africa to inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica. As they spread out geographically, they also diversified genetically.

When a genetic variant arises in an individual and is passed down through the paternal or maternal lines, it will be present in living descendants. So by looking at the pattern of mutations in present-day populations, geneticists can trace human genetic and migration history.

Most world maps position the Americas on the left, but for these features we use maps with the Americas on the right. The reason for this is that human prehistoric migrations began in Africa and moved north and east, eventually crossing the Bering Strait to reach the Americas. The map with the Americas on the right enables us to visualize the entire route from Africa to the Americas.

Haplogroup distributions may be widespread or they may be more localized, as in Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroups B and T:

Global distributions of Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroups B and T

Haplogroup names and "star" lineages

Maternal Haplogroups

Maternal haplogroups begin with a capital letter (occasionally two) that designates a major branch of the mitochondrial DNA tree. That capital letter is often followed by a series of numbers and lower-case letters, each corresponding to a subsequent branch on the tree.

Paternal Haplogroups

Paternal haplogroup names consist of a letter corresponding to a major branch of the tree, followed by the name of a representative genetic marker instead of the long-form haplogroup used in for maternal haplogroups. For example, if we report your haplogroup as “Q-M3,” this indicates that your Y-chromosome lineage belongs to a subgroup of haplogroup Q bearing the M3 marker.

It is important to point out that because haplogroup labels correspond to branches of a tree, carrying a specific haplogroup also means you carry the set of variants associated with the branches from which it descends. Take for example these paternal haplogroups: Q-M3 and Q-M242. Q-M242 corresponds to the root of haplogroup Q, and haplogroup Q-M3 descends from it. So everyone who is Q-M3 is also Q-M242, but not everyone who is Q-M242 is Q-M3.

Many branches of the tree are associated with tens or even hundreds of markers that are equivalent to one another with respect to their haplogroup information content. For clarity, the academic literature on a particular haplogroup often refers to a single representative marker from among the set of equivalent markers. In some cases, we may not have genotyped you for the representative marker itself, but rather for another marker currently deemed equivalent to the representative marker.

“Star”

All lineages of a subgroup share one or more mutations, but sometimes there are a few lineages that don't fit into any named subgroup of a haplogroup. Since there isn't a known mutation linking these lineages, they don't get their own subgroup. Instead, these lineages are given the main haplogroup label plus a star (*) to indicate that they are part of the main haplogroup but don't fit into any of the known subgroups. An example of these "star" lineages is I1*. Sometimes new research leads to the discovery of mutations that link several of the "star" lineages. When that happens the lineages get a new name and lose their "star" designation.

Using the Haplogroup Tree

When you first reach the Haplogroups page, you will see an overview of your haplogroup assignment. Your haplogroups are a clue to your maternal or paternal ancestry. The framework used to identify different haplogroups, and how they relate, is called a phylogenetic tree. Your maternal haplogroup is based on your mitochondrial DNA, and, if you are a male, your paternal haplogroup is based on your Y chromosome.

To see your haplogroup highlighted in a phylogenetic tree, click "See full Haplogroup tree scientific details":

tree_detailed.png

At the left edge of the tree is the most recent common male-line or female-line ancestor (MRCA) of all living people. For the paternal haplogroup, we label the common ancestor as "A” and for the maternal haplogroup, we label the common ancestor as “mt-MRCA”. To the the right are his or her descendants. Each major branch of each tree is named with a letter, and deeper branches within the tree are labeled with sequences of numbers and letters (maternal) or a representative marker (paternal). Each branch is thousands or tens of thousands of years old.

You may notice that some haplogroups are solid blue circles, while others are not. Haplogroups with additional subgroups have solid blue circles located under the haplogroup label; click the blue circle to reveal any subgroups. There may be additional expandable haplogroups, so keep an eye out for more blue circles. Clicking on the tree and dragging enables you to move the tree around to view different sections.

Old 23andMe Experience

Haplogroup is the term scientists use to describe a group of mitochondrial or Y-chromosome sequences that are more closely related to one another than to others. The term haplogroup is a combination of haplotype and group. In this context, haplotype refers either to the DNA sequence of one's mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from one's mother, or to the DNA sequence of one's Y chromosome, which is passed from fathers to their sons. Due to their unusual transmission, the mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome contain rich information about your maternal and paternal lines, respectively. But together, they make up a small part of your genome; you inherit one copy of the majority of the genome from each of your parents.

Everyone can trace their maternal ancestry back to a single woman, but members of a mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroup can trace their maternal ancestry back to a more recent common ancestor, and the same applies to paternal ancestry and the Y chromosome.

Our Maternal Line and Paternal Line features can shed light on the origins of some of our ancestors and on their migrations over tens of thousands of years. Your maternal haplogroup assignment - available in the Maternal Line feature - tells you about your maternal-line ancestors, from your mother through her mother and beyond. If you are male, your paternal haplogroup - available in the Paternal line feature - tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond. Haplogroups are assigned by detecting certain genetic variants unique to each haplogroup.

Haplogroup maps

The haplogroup map shows you where most of the people with a given haplogroup lived prior to the age of European exploration ~500 years ago. Before that time people rarely moved between continents, so the map shows where people with a particular haplogroup lived for thousands of years.

These maps reflect human migration over tens of thousands of years, a period in which humans migrated from eastern Africa to inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica. As they spread out geographically, they also diversified genetically.

When a genetic variant arises in an individual and is passed down through the paternal or maternal lines, it will be present in living descendants. So by looking at the pattern of mutations in present-day populations, geneticists can trace human genetic and migration history.

Most world maps position the Americas on the left, but for these features we use maps with the Americas on the right. The reason for this is that human prehistoric migrations began in Africa and moved north and east, eventually crossing the Bering Strait to reach the Americas. The map with the Americas on the right enables us to visualize the entire route from Africa to the Americas.

Haplogroup distributions may be widespread, such as in mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroups A and M, or they may be more localized, as in Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroups B and T:

 

Global distributions of mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroups A and M

Global distributions of Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroups B and T

Haplogroup names and "star" lineages

Haplogroup names begin with a capital letter (occasionally two) that designates a major branch of the mitochondrial DNA tree. That capital letter is often followed by a series of numbers and lower-case letters, each corresponding to a subsequent branch on the tree.

All lineages of a subgroup share one or more mutations, but sometimes there are a few lineages that don't fit into any named subgroup of a haplogroup. Since there isn't a known mutation linking these lineages, they don't get their own subgroup. Instead, these lineages are given the main haplogroup label plus a star (*) to indicate that they are part of the main haplogroup but don't fit into any of the known subgroups. An example of these "star" lineages is I1*. Sometimes new research leads to the discovery of mutations that link several of the "star" lineages. When that happens the lineages get a new name and lose their "star" designation.

Haplogroup ages

Each haplogroup has an approximate age listed in the Overview box on the right side of the Maternal or Paternal Line page:

Researchers have used a variety of methods to estimate when a haplogroup arose. We present both published estimates and our own.

Using the Haplogroup Tree

When you first reach the Paternal or Maternal Line pages, you will see a map and a brief history of your haplogroup. Click on the Haplogroup Tree tab to see your haplogroup highlighted on the tree:

At the left edge of the tree is a common ancestor of all living people. For the Paternal Line, we call this individual "PoP" (Papa of all Papas) and for the Maternal Line, we call her "MoM" (Mother of all Mothers). To the right are his or her descendants, represented by green haplogroup labels. Blue people icons next to a haplogroup label indicate that you or someone you've shared with belong to that haplogroup or to one of its subgroups. If a haplogroup has subgroups, its green label will have a plus sign (+) on the right side of the label. Click the "+" to reveal subgroups. There may be additional expandable haplogroups-within-haplogroups, so keep an eye out for more pluses.

Clicking on the green labels at the branching points of the tree switches the Map and Story pages to that haplogroup. Finally, you can move the tree around to view different sections by clicking and dragging or by clicking on the arrows, and you can zoom in or out by clicking the large plus and minus signs.

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