Standard Article

Surnames and Genetics

  1. Mark A Jobling

Published Online: 14 MAR 2008

DOI: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005963.pub2



How to Cite

Jobling, M. A. 2008. Surnames and Genetics. eLS. .

Author Information

  1. University of Leicester, Leicester, UK

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 14 MAR 2008


Heritable surnames contain information about the relatedness of individuals within and between populations, and thus can be used to estimate human inbreeding and population structure. These estimates are affected adversely by the failure of underlying assumptions: many surnames have several founders, and the link between surname and inheritance can be broken by nonpaternity and other factors. Associations between patrilinearly inherited surnames and paternally inherited Y-chromosome haplotypes are now allowing the histories of names to be investigated using molecular genetic methods.


  • surname;
  • isonymy;
  • nonpaternity;
  • Y chromosome;
  • haplotype