Haplogroup Map: YDNA v mtDNA

 

A haplogroup map, like these world maps for YDNA or mtDNA, chart the deep origins of your paternal or maternal lines. The specificity of your haplogroup results varies by test, and so does its value for building your family tree. Read more!

When you participate in DNA testing for family history, your results may include some haplogroup information. Your DNA haplogroup attempts to describe the deep history and migration paths of some of your ancestors. Your YDNA haplogroup pertains to the origins of your direct paternal line; your mtDNA haplogroup points to your direct maternal line.

Did you catch that? Haplogroups point to deep ancestral places—thousands of years ago, not hundreds of years ago. Most DNA test results that come with haplogroup results just show you high level haplogroups. These probably aren’t going to help you identify the national origins of a 3x great grandparent, such as whether she was Irish or Italian, or whether he hailed from Morocco or Egypt. And they don’t point solely to one place, because ancient populations, like today’s, were on the move.

mtDNA Haplogroup Map of the World

Both men and women have an mtDNA haplogroup, since mothers pass it to all of their children. (Only women continue to pass it on to the next generation, which is why mtDNA is associated strictly with your maternal line.) An mtDNA haplogroup assignment is a combination of letters and numbers.


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Both Living DNA and 23andMe provide some basic mtDNA haplogroup information with their autosomal DNA tests. These may include just the first few characters of your full haplogroup. It’s like receiving a high-level assignment to a very big and old haplogroup branch. Only taking an mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA* will give you detailed or refined haplogroup information. A good way to think of these different levels is like telling someone that your shirt is green, vs telling them it is chartreuse. Both are true. But the latter is more specific. (Read a more detailed description of how mtDNA results from different companies vary.)

Here’s a haplogroup map of the locations and migratory paths scientists believe are associated with various mtDNA haplogroups.

"Hypothesized map of human migration based on mitochondrial DNA." By User:Maulucioni - Migraciones humanas en haplogrupos mitocondriales.PNG,  CC BY-SA 3.0 ,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32585433.

"Hypothesized map of human migration based on mitochondrial DNA." By User:Maulucioni – Migraciones humanas en haplogrupos mitocondriales.PNG, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=32585433.

If you are researching your maternal line, this haplogroup information can help you theorize broadly about that specific line’s origins (ie, “they were likely not Native American”).

YDNA Haplogroup Map of the World

YDNA testing can be done only by biological men. (So, if you’re a woman, ask a direct male descendant of the line you’re exploring to take a YDNA test.) The YDNA haplogroup map below shows the general deep ancestral places and migratory paths associated with various haplogroups (shown at the highest levels).

Image used under  CC BY-SA 3.0

Image used under CC BY-SA 3.0

I know, this is a lot to take in! Focus on the colors to just see how different haplogroups tend to inhabit certain parts of the world. Notice specifically in Europe that those blue lines are kind of all over, making it very hard to pin down an ancestral location.

As you can see, you can get a general idea of your paternal line origins from your haplogroup—and perhaps an even better idea of where your paternal line doesn’t originate.


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In some situations, YDNA haplogroups can give genealogically-significant clues—meaning, hints that can help you build your family tree. This is most often achieved when you take the BigY test from Family Tree DNA. Learn more about YDNA testing to identify male ancestors (including a deeper exploration of haplogroups) in our YDNA Course.

Beyond Haplogroups

If you’re interested in your ancestral ethnicity, you’ll be pleased to know your DNA ethnicity results are gradually becoming both more precise and more accurate. We’ve published a free downloadable guide to understanding your evolving ethnicity results and a fantastic list of frequently-asked questions about ethnicity.

Free Ethnicity Guide & FAQs

At MyHeritage DNA and AncestryDNA, your ethnicity estimates may now also be linked to specific (and much more recent!) migratory communities. These offer exciting insights into your recent ancestry! Read about AncestryDNA Genetic Communities and MyHeritageDNA Genetic Groups.

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Source: Your DNA Guide Blog – Your DNA Guide https://www.yourdnaguide.com/ydgblog/

Posted On: May 20, 2021 at 11:08AM