Haplogroups

The topic of haplogroups is quite complex but it is important to understand so you can interpret how you relate to other members of the Alsup surname project.

A haplogroup is a large cluster of people who share a common DNA heritage. It has been compared to a major branch on the human family tree. This should not be confused with a similar term called haplotype which defines a specific set of genetic mutations which describe the DNA identity of an individual or set of closely related individuals. A haplotype can be compared to the leaves on the end of the haplogroup branches of the human family tree.

A haplogroup is defined by a type of genetic mutation called a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP, pronounced "snip"). A SNP is simply a mutation in one of the A, T, C, or G markers found along the double helix that makes up your DNA. A SNP is quite different from the type of mutation used for Y-Chromosome testing which is comprised of multiple repeats of specific genetic sequences called Short Tandem Repeats (STR). STR's are mutations which occur relatively frequently enabling one to distinguish DNA that has changed over the past few hundred years. STR's are used to measure one's haplotype. A SNP mutation; however, occurs at only one specific marker location and occurs very infrequently (usually over a period of several thousand years). SNP's are used to determine haplogroups. STR's are used to determine haplotypes.

When you receive your Y-Chromosome DNA test results you will be given a list of one or two digit numbers. Each number reflects the number of repeats of a specific pattern of DNA bases that occur at a particular location or marker on your Y-Chromosome. The length of the string of numbers depends on which test you order. If you order a 37 marker test your results will be a string of 37 numbers. A 67 marker test will be reported as a string of 67 numbers. The 67 marker test will provide more genetic information than the 37 marker test. Because a 67 marker test requires additional testing at the lab, it is more expensive than a 37 marker test. In the past, FamilyTreeDNA offered 12 and 25 marker tests. These tests are no longer considered adequate to precisely establish how related two people are. You should order at least a 37 marker test. 67 markers is even better if you budget allows for it. A 111 marker test is also offered but may be an "overkill" for most purposes.

SNP's can be measured by a DNA testing lab to determine one's specific haplogroup. Geneticists have analyzed large databases of haplotypes and haplogroups and found very high correlations between the major haplogroups and specific STR results. This means that they can usually predict one's major (also called the high-level) haplogroup based on his haplotype. FamilyTreeDNA will predict your high-level haplogroup based on your STR results. If they are unable to make a prediction, they will perform SNP tests at no additional charge. If you want to find your detailed haplogroup (called a subclade) you will need to order some specific SNP tests.

Why are we spending time learning about haplogroups? What is the value of knowing one's haplogroup? There is little genealogical value when you are trying to find people closely related to you because haplogroups only distinguish broad groupings of people. However, if you find a potential relative and you are from different haplogroups, you will know they are not closely related to you.

Haplogroups are defined by a committee of scientists called the Y Chromosome Consortium (YCC). Since this field of study is rapidly developing, these definitions are revised each year. The 2018 haplogroup tree (also known as a phylogenetic tree) can be found at the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG) website. There are currently 20 major Y-Chromosome haplogroups. They are named by one or two letters of the alphabet. Most of the major groups are subdivided into one or several sub groups called clades and even smaller groups called subclades. Most major haplogroups now have several hundred subclades.

Population geneticists have recently begun studying haplogroup origins. Haplogroup origins and population migrations are the subject of study of the National Geographic's Genographic Project. Scientists at Stanford, Oxford, and the University of Arizona among others have published a great amount of haplogroup research. Information can be found by Googling: "haplogroup", "Y-DNA" and the name of the haplogroup. Wikipedia is a particularly good resource for Y Haplogroup information.

The members of the Alsup/Alsop DNA project are currently divided into 7 clades in 4 major haplogroups. You can see these groupings in the Alsup/Alsop results page at FamilyTreeDNA. The most common clade in the project is Haplogroup I2a1b1 with 7 members. One additional member belongs to a related subclade of the I haplogroup called I1a2a1a1a3.

The I haplogroup is usually associated with Nordic or Viking ancestry. I is the oldest haplogroup in Europe and is likely the only one that originated in Europe. It is thought to have arrived from the Middle East as haplogroup IJ around 35,000 years ago, and developed into haplogroup I approximately 25,000 years ago. The megalithic structures (5000-1200 BCE) of Europe were built by I people. An interesting, but rather technical, 17 minute video about the I haplogroup can be found on the Genebase.com website.

A 2004 study found the I haplogroup was common in most European populations but is very rare in native populations outside of Europe. It is found most frequently in Denmark (39%), Germany (38%), Norway (40%), Sweden (41%), the Italian island of Sardinia (42%), and the Balkan States (30-40%). It is found in only 18% of the English population.

The dominant haplogroup in England is R which comprises over 70% of the population. Population geneticists have interpreted the data to mean that Haplogroup R is the native or indigenous population and haplogroup I is the population of invaders. England has a long history of invasions by Nordic and Germanic people. Unfortunately, research on the I haplogroup is not yet sophisticated enough to tell which invading group included our Alsop ancestors. However, historical descriptions of Gamellus de Alsop would be consistent with the Nordic or Germanic background of the Norman invaders of 1066.

There is a project you can join on FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA) called the I2b1/M223 Y-Clan Study. It shows FTDNA test results organized according to a proposed sub-classification of the I2b1 subclade. There is also a forum to discuss the latest thinking on I2b1 at DNA-Forums.org. It is sometimes difficult to follow the thread of conversation and the forum requires a login and approval from the administrator.

The other common common clade in the Alsup/Alsop project is Haplogroup R1b1a1b, also with 7 members. An additional 3 members are in a related clade called R1a1a. Haplogroup R is the most common group in England. It is considered by many to be the native Britons. Even though the members of these two subclades are both in the R haplogroup, they are not closely related to each other.

3 members ar in the E Haplogroup, 2 in the E1b1b1 clade and one in the E-Ph1818 clade.

2 members are in the J haplogroup, both are in the J-M172 clade.

If you have any questions about haplogroups, please send an email to the webmaster at the following link: Dale Alsop Email.