Pam, a lady with very interesting mitochondrial DNA, recently asked me about mitochondrial haplogroup Y1, and if it had ever been found in the Native American population. The answer, as best I knew, was a resounding “no.”
Pam told me that she had only found about 15 people who were of that haplogroup and most of them are East Asian. Her most distant matrilineal ancestor is from Slovakia as is her full sequence exact match at Family tree DNA. A more distant match’s most distant ancestor was born in Istanbul, but immigrated there from someplace in Europe, possibly the Ukraine or Slovakia. A third match’s immediate family was from the Ukraine near Belarus from the 1880s.
The migration map provided by Family Tree DNA tells us the following about haplogroup Y:
Given that this haplogroup is primarily eastern Asian, Pam wondered if there was any possibility that this was a “sleeper” haplogroup and had been found in the Native American population since the most recent papers had been published.
Good question. Let’s take a look.
The History of Mitochondrial Haplogroup Y
Haplogroup Y evolved from haplogroup N9 that evolved from haplogroup N that evolved from haplogroup L3, which was African.
As a National Geographic Genographic Affiliate Researcher, I decided to take a look at what information the Genographic Project might reveal about mtDNA haplogroup Y. For starters, the Genographic project provides a nice compact tree in their research database.
I created a chart combining the subgroups of haplogroup Y, the age of each group, the standard deviation for each subgroup, the defining mutations as provided by the Genographic project (Phylotree Version 16) and the oldest maternal birth locations for haplogroup Y subgroup participants in the Genographic Project. The age should be read as “most likely 24,576 but the range would be from 17,493-31,659 years ago.” I would simply say that haplogroup Y was born about 25,000 years ago. If you think of a bell shaped curve, 24,576 would be the top of the bell and the tails, which are increasingly less likely would extend 7,083 years in both directions.
|Haplogroup||Age per Dr. Doron Behar||Standard Deviation (+-)||RSRS Defining Mutations (Genographic V 16)||Genographic Oldest Maternal Birth Locations||Other|
|Y||24,576||7,083||G8392A, A10398G!, T14178C, A14693G, T16126C, T16223C, T16231C||China (2)|
|Y1||14,689||5,264||T146C!, G3834A, (C16266T)||Slovakia, Czech, Poland, China, Korea (2)|
|Y2||7,279||2,894||T482C, G5147A, T6941C, F7859A, A14914G, A15244G, T16311C!||Simonstown, Western Cape, South Africa||“coloured”|
|Y2a1||2.488||2,658||T11299C||Philippines (8), Sumatra Indonesia, Spain, Malaysia, China, Ireland|
Unfortunately, there is no mitochondrial haplogroup Y project at Family Tree DNA, so I can’t do any comparisons there.
This article at WikiPedia provides a chart of where mtDNA haplogroup Y has been found in academic studies, along with the following verbiage:
Haplogroup Y has been found with high frequency in many indigenous populations who live around the Sea of Okhotsk, including approximately 66% of Nivkhs, approximately 38% of Ulchs, approximately 21% of Negidals, and approximately 20% of Ainus. It is also fairly common among indigenous peoples of the Kamchatka Peninsula (Koryaks, Itelmens) and Maritime Southeast Asia.
The distribution of haplogroup Y in populations of the Malay Archipelago contrasts starkly with the absence or extreme rarity of this haplogroup in populations of continental Southeast Asia in a manner reminiscent of haplogroup E. However, the frequency of haplogroup Y fades more smoothly away from its maximum around the Sea of Okhotsk in Northeast Asia, being found in approximately 2% of Koreans and in South Siberian and Central Asian populations with an average frequency of 1%.
Its subclade Y2 has been observed in 40% (176/440) of a large pool of samples from Nias in western Indonesia, ranging from a low of 25% (3/12) among the Zalukhu subpopulation to a high of 52% (11/21) among the Ho subpopulation.
Given that the Native people migrated from far eastern Asia, in Siberia, sometime between 12,000 and 15,000 years ago, we can see that Y1a, for example, is too young to be among that group – given that this haplogroup was born in Asia only around 7,500 years ago. However, it could be possible to find Y1 or Y or even a subgroup of Y not found in Asia or Europe in the Americas, but alas, to date, that has not materialized, nor have any pre-contact burials been found in the Americas that include mitochondrial haplogroup Y or of any subgroup.
How did haplogroup Y, an East Asian haplogroup, come to be found in eastern Europe? Probably the same way my Lentz male Y DNA came to be found in Germany, as well as within the Yamnaya ancient remains found north of the Black Sea in Russia from some 3,500 years ago. We can very probably thank the repeated invasions of what is now Europe from what is now Asia for bringing many of the haplogroups found in present day Eastern Europe – including Y1. This map of the Genghis Kahn empire and troop movements in the 1200s might provide clues.
I would like to thank:
- National Geographic Society Genographic Project and Dr. Miguel Vilar, Science Manager
- Pam, for testing and for asking
- Family Tree DNA for providing the testing, projects and support that enables us to further both scientific and genealogical research.
- Dr. Doron Behar (et al) paper titled “A ‘Copernican’ Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root” and supplemental data.
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