A haplogroup has been defined 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 human family tree.
A haplogroup is defined by a type of genetic mutation called a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP, pronounced "snip"). A SNP is quite different form the type of mutation that is usually used by genetic genealogists which consists 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 samples that have changed over the past few hundred years. STR's are used to measure ones 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.
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.
SNP's can be measured by a DNA testing lab to determine ones haplogroup; however, it is usually not necessary to spend the extra money for this test. Geneticists have analyzed large databases of haplotypes and haplogroups and found very high correlations between haplogroups and specific STR results. This means that they can usually predict ones haplogroup based on his haplotype. FamilyTreeDNA will predict your haplogroup based on your STR results. If they are unable to make a prediction, they will perform SNP tests at no additional charge.
What is the value of knowing ones haplogroup? There is little genealogical value when you are trying to find people related to you because it only distinguishes broad groupings of people. However, if you find a potential relative and you are from different haplogroups, you are not closely related to each other.
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 2009 haplogroup tree (also known as a phylogenetic tree) can be found at the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG) web site. 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 or even sub sub groups called subclades.
Population geneticists have recently begun studying haplogroup origins. Haplogroup origins and population migrations are the subject of study of the Genographic Project. Scientists at Stanford, Oxford, and the University of Arizona 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 who are closely related are all members of the I haplogroup. 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 web site.
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.
Haplogroup I is further divided into several clades and subclades. The related Alsup/Alsop members have been further classified into subclade I2b1. This subclade has been associated with the M233 SNP mutation so it is sometimes called I2b1-M223. Three Alsup group members are classified based on predictions from their haplotype and two have been tested and found positive for the M223 marker. A great deal has been written about I2b1 but conclusions about its origin are still very tentative. A study in 2004 revealed that I2b1 was found in about 10 percent of the Germans and Dutch and 5 percent of the Norman French. Haplogroup research is a very young science. Hopefully, one day genetic anthropologists will be able to tell us more about our I2b1 ancestors.
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.
Two members of the Alsup DNA Project are in Haplogroup R, the most common group in England. This group is considered by many to be the native Britons. One member is in the R1b clade which comprises nearly two thirds of the English. The other member is in the R1a clade which represents 5% of the English inhabitants. Even though thse two members are both in the R haplogroup, they are not closely related to each other because they are in different clades and their haplotypes are not similar.
The other Alsop who has been tested is also a member of the I haplogroup but is not closely related to the five members of the I2b1 subclade. He is a member of the I1-M253 clade. This member is not identified because he tested with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) which does not release information about their test subjects. We do know; however, that he is the great grandson of Lew Peart Allsop (born 2 Sep 1900 in Thatcher, Idaho) of the John and Ira Allsop family of Utah. If anyone knows who this person is, please contact the webmaster by EMail. We would like to officially add his name to the Alsup/Alsop DNA Project.
To see a summary of haplogroups for members of the Alsup/Alsop DNA Project click here.
If you have any questions about haplogroups or the I2b1 subclade, please send an eMail to Dale Alsop.