In the name of the father: surnames and genetics

Trends Genet. 2001 Jun;17(6):353-7. doi: 10.1016/s0168-9525(01)02284-3.


Hereditary surnames contain information about relatedness within populations. They have been used as crude indicators of population structure and migration events, and to subdivide samples for epidemiological purposes. In societies that use patrilineal surnames, a surname should correlate with a type of Y chromosome, provided certain assumptions are met. Recent studies involving Y-chromosomal haplotyping and surname analysis are promising and indicate that genealogists of the future could be turning to records written in DNA, as well as in paper archives, to solve their problems.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • DNA / genetics
  • Family*
  • Female
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genetics, Medical*
  • Genomic Imprinting
  • Haplotypes
  • Humans
  • Linguistics*
  • Male
  • Models, Genetic
  • Y Chromosome


  • DNA