High level of male-biased Scandinavian admixture in Greenlandic Inuit shown by Y-chromosomal analysis

Hum Genet. 2003 Apr;112(4):353-63. doi: 10.1007/s00439-003-0913-9. Epub 2003 Feb 20.


We have used binary markers and microsatellites on the Y chromosome to analyse diversity in a sample of Greenlandic Inuit males. This sample contains Y chromosomes typical of those found in European populations. Because the Y chromosome has a unique and robust phylogeny of a time depth that precedes the split between European and Native American populations, it is possible to assign chromosomes in an admixed population to either continental source. On this basis, 58+/-6% of these Y chromosomes have been assigned to a European origin. The high proportion of European Y chromosomes contrasts with a complete absence of European mitochondrial DNA and indicates strongly male-biased European admixture into Inuit. Comparison of the European component of Inuit Y chromosomes with European population data suggests that they have their origins in Scandinavia. There are two potential source populations: Norse settlers from Iceland, who may have been assimilated 500 years ago, and the Danish-Norwegian colonists of the eighteenth century. Insufficient differentiation between modern Icelandic and Danish Y chromosomes means that a choice between these cannot be made on the basis of diversity analysis. However, the extreme sex bias in the admixture makes the later event more likely as the source.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Y / genetics*
  • Denmark / ethnology
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / genetics*
  • Genetic Markers / genetics*
  • Greenland / ethnology
  • Haplotypes / genetics
  • Humans
  • Iceland / ethnology
  • Inuits / genetics*
  • Male
  • Microsatellite Repeats / genetics*
  • Norway / ethnology


  • Genetic Markers