A little over four months ago, the Q-L245 SNP Pack launched at Family Tree DNA. It was the product of years of advanced testing followed by months of SNP selection. Here are the first results from the Y-DNA Q project. Many thanks to my project co-administrators and all project members for making this possible.
The attached tree is a form of descendant chart. It reads from top to bottom. Thus, the Q-L245 branch is the parent to the Q-Y2209 branch. Q-Y2225 is in tern the ‘son’ branch to Q-Y2209. You could also read a begat between each branch. Q-L245 begat Q-BZ310, Q-L619.2, Q-YP745, and Q-Y2209. Q-Y2209 in turn begat Q-BZ1, Q-FGC2020, Q-YP740, and Q-Y2225.
The individual branch names like Q-L245 are based on the Y-SNP markers that define them.
Y-SNP markers are random mutations on the Y-Chromosome. Y-SNP markers happen every 1 to 4 generations.
Thus, we are able to count the number of Y-SNP markers on each branch for those who took the BIG Y test to get approximate dates for when branches were founded. With BIG Y results, we can also get the date for when the Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) of branch members lived. These two dates are sometimes close together or about the same. This is expected. Other times, they are far apart. This tells us that something happened in the history of the branch so that many descendants were lost.
An example of a large difference is Q-Y2200. It was founded around 650 BC, but the most recent common ancestor of the two descendant branches lived over a thousand years later around 450 AD.
What this tells us is that Q-Y2200 has been in the Jewish population for a long time. However, like some papers have suggested, the Ashkenazi Jewish population went through a severe reduction when it was founded. It also suffered through persecution many dramatic population reductions since.
Types of Tests
Two types of test went into the tree. Both tests use Y-SNP markers.
The first is BIG Y. It is a NexGen sequencing test that provides results for over 10 million base pairs of the Y-chromosome. The result is long stretches of the Y-chromosome where we know all of someone’s DNA values. This lets us find previously unknown markers. This level of sequencing is also needed to date the age of branches. It is the better test, but it is also the more expensive test.
The second type of test is a Y-SNP Pack panel. This provides results for specific known Y-SNPs. Because it is more affordable, it is possible to test many more people with it. This helps us fill in geographic and family history information on branches.
Between the two types of tests, the project now has almost 100 Q-L245 men tested for the new tree branches.
What have we learned?
First, we know that Q-L245 is much older than simple Y-STR marker analysis suggests. It is also much more diverse. We have found, with many thanks to Vladimir, that academic samples from the Avar, Hazara, and Azeri separated from other branches long ago. This means they are not the source populations from the more populous European and Middle Eastern branches.
Indeed, the European branches with a few exceptions are only distantly connected. We have disproved the hypothesis that the two Mennonite lineages are the result of a recent Jewish convert in the past 500 years.
We have long known that Y-DNA Q is between 4% and 5% of the modern Ashkenazi Jewish population. All of you with known Y-DNA Q Ashkenazic lines (an oral tradition of being Ashkenazi Jews and part of haplogroup Q) tested so far belong to the Q-Y2200 branch of Q. From there, you come from two distantly related men who lived around 450 AD. The different branches split the group into many branches that end in late medieval times. These dates and that the first Q-Y2200 male lived around 2600 years ago disproves the hypothesis that Q-Y2200 was introduced into the Ashkenazi population by the Khazar empire.
Is Q-Y2200 Jewish? Well, by dates I think yes. However, we have a few of people who did not know that they might be Jewish before testing. We also have the Q-BZ72 branch that is restricted to a Portuguese and an Italian.
Another major finding is that the various Mizrahi (Iraqi, Moroccan, and South African) Jewish men are from a different branch of Q-L245. We need to do additional testing to discover if Iranian (Persian) and Sephardi Jewish Q-L245 men are Q-Y2200 or Q-YP1236.
Q-L619.2 & Q-FGC2020
The Armenian population is home to many Q lineages. Two of these are Q-L245 lineages. They are distinct from each other. They are not close enough to either of the Jewish lineages to imply recent shared ancestry.
I hope to see many more in the project who are known or predicted to be Q-L245 order the Q-L245 SNP Pack. I know that Vladimir is also working to test more academic samples.
I have two areas that I am going to focus on in 2016 for Q-L245. First, I plan to test those who are likely to be Q-Y2200 but do not have an oral tradition of being Ashkenazic Jewish. This includes known and suspected Crypto-Jews.
368238 Escalante – ?Q-Y2200? Mexican from the Basque region of Spain.
N67440 Alonso – ?Q-Y2200? Spain, Castille, Zamora Province.
162557 Elias – ?Q-Y2200? La Union, NM, USA.
106057 Ramirez – ?Q-L245? Mexico.
N32770 Altamirano – ?Q-L245? Mexico.
From Italy, we are also looking for someone with the surname STANFA to test at Family Tree DNA. There was a STANFA DNA sample in the old Sorenson Molecular Genetics Foundation database that looked decidedly Jewish. We would love to bring someone from the family into the FTDNA database and pay for additional testing.
Second, I am going to investigate the other lineages within the project that have a history of being Levites on their direct paternal line. It will be interesting to see how many of these are Q-BZ25.
Rebekah A. Canada
Volunteer Administrator, Family Tree DNA