Thomas Jefferson's Y chromosome belongs to a rare European lineage
Article first published online: 1 FEB 2007
Copyright © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology
Volume 132, Issue 4, pages 584–589, April 2007
How to Cite
King, T. E., Bowden, G. R., Balaresque, P. L., Adams, S. M., Shanks, M. E. and Jobling, M. A. (2007), Thomas Jefferson's Y chromosome belongs to a rare European lineage. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol., 132: 584–589. doi: 10.1002/ajpa.20557
- Issue published online: 26 FEB 2007
- Article first published online: 1 FEB 2007
- Manuscript Accepted: 4 DEC 2006
- Manuscript Received: 3 JUL 2006
- The Wellcome Trust, Medical Research Council (MRC)
- Y chromosome;
- Thomas Jefferson;
- haplogroup K2
We have characterized the Y chromosome carried by President Thomas Jefferson, the general rarity of which supported the idea that he, or a patrilineal relative, fathered the last son of his slave Sally Hemings. It belongs to haplogroup K2, a lineage representing only ∼1% of chromosomes worldwide, and most common in East Africa and the Middle East. Phylogenetic network analysis of its Y-STR (short tandem repeat) haplotype shows that it is most closely related to an Egyptian K2 haplotype, but the presence of scattered and diverse European haplotypes within the network is nonetheless consistent with Jefferson's patrilineage belonging to an ancient and rare indigenous European type. This is supported by the observation that two of 85 unrelated British men sharing the surname Jefferson also share the President's Y-STR haplotype within haplogroup K2. Our findings represent a cautionary tale in showing the difficulty of assigning individual ancestry based on a Y-chromosome haplotype, particularly for rare lineages where population data are scarce. Am J Phys Anthropol, 2007. © 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.