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Keywords:

  • Y chromosome;
  • Y-STRs;
  • radiation;
  • Western Europe;
  • Y-chromosomal subhaplogroups;
  • genetic discrimination

Summary

Y-chromosomal short tandem repeats (Y-STRs) are often used in addition to Y-chromosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNP) to detect subtle patterns in a population genetic structure. There are, however, indications for Y-STR haplotype resemblance across different subhaplogroups within haplogroup R1b1b2 (R-M269) which may lead to erosion in the observation of the population genetic pattern. Hence the question arises whether Y-STR haplotypes are still informative beyond high-resolution Y-SNP genotyping for population genetic studies. To address this question, we genotyped the Y chromosomes of more than 1000 males originating from the West-European regions of Flanders (Belgium), North-Brabant and Limburg (the Netherlands) at the highest resolution of the current Y-SNP tree together with 38 commonly used Y-STRs. We observed high resemblance of Y-STR haplotypes between males belonging to different subhaplogroups of haplogroup R-M269. Several subhaplogroups within R-M269 could not be distinguished from each other based on differences in Y-STR haplotype variation. The most likely hypothesis to explain this similarity of Y-STR haplotypes within the population of R-M269 members is a recent radiation where various subhaplogroups originated within a relatively short time period. We conclude that high-resolution Y-SNP typing rather than Y-STR typing might be more useful to study population genetic patterns in (Western) Europe.