Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution

Hum Genet. 2005 Mar;116(4):279-91. doi: 10.1007/s00439-004-1201-z. Epub 2005 Jan 20.


Previous studies of human Y-chromosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNPs) established a link between the extant Y-SNP haplogroup distribution and the prehistoric demography of Europe. By contrast, our analysis of seven rapidly evolving Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat loci (Y-STRs) in over 12,700 samples from 91 different locations in Europe reveals a signature of more recent historic events, not previously detected by other genetic markers. Cluster analysis based upon molecular variance yields two clearly identifiable sub-clusters of Western and Eastern European Y-STR haplotypes, and a diverse transition zone in central Europe, where haplotype spectra change more rapidly with longitude than with latitude. This and other observed patterns of Y-STR similarity may plausibly be related to particular historical incidents, including, for example, the expansion of the Franconian and Ottoman Empires. We conclude that Y-STRs may be capable of resolving male genealogies to an unparalleled degree and could therefore provide a useful means to study local population structure and recent demographic history.

MeSH terms

  • Chromosomes, Human, Y*
  • Europe
  • Genotype
  • Haplotypes*
  • History*
  • Humans
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Tandem Repeat Sequences / genetics*