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.
This article will address the following questions and topics:
- What is a haplogroup?
- What can this report tell you about your genetic ancestry?
- What is a maternal and paternal haplogroup?
- How to view and print the Haplogroups report.
- A list of common questions about this report.
What a haplogroup is
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 other sequences. 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 the majority of your genome from both 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 for males.
The Haplogroup reports provides haplogroup assignments which allow you to trace your ancestry from your mother through her mother and beyond and, for men, from your father through his father and beyond.
What this report can tell you about your genetic ancestry
Your haplogroup is a clue to your maternal or paternal ancestry. Humans migrated from eastern Africa to inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica over tens of thousands of years. The Haplogroup reports show the migration patterns of people with a given haplogroup. Before the age of European exploration ~500 years ago, people rarely moved between continents, so the report shows where people with a particular haplogroup lived for thousands of years.
As humans spread out geographically, they also diversified genetically. Your maternal haplogroup is assigned by identifying a set of variants in your mitochondrial DNA. If you are male, your paternal haplogroup is assigned by identifying a set of variants in your Y-chromosome DNA as well. When a 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 variants in present-day populations, geneticists can trace human genetic and migration history.
A haplogroup is a family of maternal or paternal lineages that descend from a common ancestor. The framework that is used to identify different haplogroups, and how they relate, is called a phylogenetic tree. The phylogenetic tree can be found by clicking on See Haplogroup Tree. A more detailed view of the Haplogroup Tree is available by clicking "See full Haplogroup tree scientific details" or clicking the Scientific Details tab.
Maternal and Paternal Haplogroups
The 23andMe experience provides two reports related to haplogroup assignments: Maternal Haplogroup and Paternal Haplogroup. The Paternal Haplogroup report is based on the Y chromosome, which only males possess, so females do not have paternal haplogroups.
The Maternal Haplogroup is provided to both males and females. This haplogroup assignment is based on your mitochondrial DNA, which you inherited from your mother, who inherited it from her mother, who inherited it from her mother, and so on. Both males and females inherited their mitochondrial DNA, and therefore their maternal haplogroup, from their mother.
A maternal haplogroup is a family of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that traces back to a single common ancestor. Geneticists use global haplogroup distributions to trace significant events in human prehistory, such as the migration of people to the Americas or the expansion of agriculture from the Middle East.
The Paternal Haplogroup is available for males*. This haplogroup assignment provides information about your Y-chromosome haplogroup, which we also call paternal haplogroup because it is passed down from fathers to their sons through the generations.
Paternal haplogroups are families of Y chromosomes that are defined by specific sets of shared mutations. Geneticists can use patterns of Y-chromosome variation to trace significant events in human prehistory, such as the migration of people to the Americas or the expansion of agriculture from the Middle East.
*Because females do not have Y chromosomes, they do not have paternal haplogroups. Females can still learn about their recent paternal ancestry in our Ancestry Composition report.
Navigating the report
The Haplogroup reports are two of our Ancestry reports and are located under the Reports tab in the top navigational menu.
After you have selected Ancestry from the dropdown menu, select Maternal Haplogroup or Paternal Haplogroup from the list of available reports.
In the Haplogroups report, you can choose to see your assignment and information about the geographic distribution of your haplogroup using the Overview tab, or you can dive deeper to see how your haplogroups relate to others by viewing the phylogenetic tree located on the Scientific Details tab. Scroll down the page to see any additional information about your haplogroup assignment or the report in general.
The Scientific Details tab contains a phylogenetic tree, which is used to identify different haplogroups and show how they relate to one another. Clicking on the tree and dragging enables you to move the tree around to view different sections. Each branch of the mitochondrial tree is named with a sequence of letters and numbers that reflects the structure of the tree. Because people with a certain haplogroup tend to live in the same region of the world, your haplogroups can say something about where your ancestors lived. Learn more.
You can print the Haplogroups report using the Print button located in the upper right corner of the page.
I’m a female; why didn’t I receive a paternal haplogroup?
Women can learn about the origins of some of their ancestors from the paternal haplogroup assignment of male-line relatives, such as fathers, brothers, and paternal uncles.
I’m a female; can I learn about my paternal ancestry even though I didn’t receive a paternal haplogroup?
Paternal haplogroups are based on the Y chromosome, which is only passed from a father to his sons. Females do not have paternal haplogroups because they do not inherit Y chromosomes.
How can I view my relative’s Paternal Haplogroup assignment?
What do the numbers and letters in my haplogroup mean?
Maternal haplogroups are named with sequences of letters and numbers that reflect the structure of the tree and how the branches relate to one another.
The paternal haplogroup uses a different naming convention, with a letter representing a major group, followed by the name of a representative marker carried by a specific subgroup.
Why doesn’t my haplogroup match what I know about my ancestors?
The information in this report does not represent all the ancestors on your mother’s or father’s sides. Rather, your maternal (and paternal) haplogroups tell you about specific lines of ancestry.
Your maternal haplogroup tells you about your maternal-line ancestors, from your mother to her mother and beyond. So your maternal haplogroup helps you trace your ancestry through your mother’s mother but not through your mother’s father. This is because maternal haplogroups are based on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed exclusively from mothers to their offspring, generation after generation.
If you are male, your paternal haplogroup tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond. So your paternal haplogroup helps you trace your ancestry through your father’s father but not through your father’s mother. This is because paternal haplogroups are based on Y-chromosome DNA, which is passed exclusively from fathers to their sons, generation after generation.
Your family history is unique; the example populations and regions provided in this report may differ from what you know about your ancestors for a variety of reasons. For example, your ancestors may have migrated away from other people with the same haplogroup, or there may be other considerations specific to your family.