A look at FTDNA Y-DNA Testing

Missing the Mark on Q-M242.

This week Brad Larkin wrote a very nice post about the distribution of samples on the Y-DNA tree by country. In it, he looks at many factors including world populations by country. I was really enjoying it until I got to one small paragraph about Y-DNA Q.

We can also revisit the question of how well Native Americans are sampled by using genetic haplogroups instead of attributed country. Taking the sample count of haplogroup Q (the most common Y haplotype among Native Americans) as a rough proxy for Native American Y-DNA in the database implies a sampling density of 1,280 samples per million of population – actually higher than Scotland or any country except Ireland.

Source: Y-DNA SNP Database Characterization (FTDNA February 2019), archived with the Wayback Machine 1 Mar 2019.

Well, I was immediately saddened to learn that many genetic genealogists including Brad do not know that Q is one of the most widely distributed macro-haplogroups. It is found in Europe, Asia including Southeast Asia, the Middle East, as well as the Americas.

Why is Q in general so well tested? Well, back in the days of the first phase of the National Geographic Genographic project, there were two Q SNPs on the mandatory SNP Backbone test for those samples. They were M242 and M3. M242 was the root of Q, and M3 was the marker for the then only known Native American Y-DNA branch, Q-M3.

We now know that most Big Y testing of Q in the Americas will fall under either the Q-M3 or Q-Z780 branch.

Most of those 1,280 SNP tested samples showing on FTDNA’s Y-DNA tree are not up to par though. With lower quality Y-SNP tests, it is impossible to know what markers were not tested. Many have never been tested beyond the initial backbone panel. Others have only been tested for a handful more SNPs.

Thus, I will in this post look at only Big Y tested samples in the Q-M242 Y-DNA Haplogroup Project.

There are currently 324 Big Y tested Qs available for analysis in the Q-M242 Y-DNA Haplogroup Project. They can be broadly split into ten major branches. These branches have discernible locations where found today.

BranchLocationCount%
Q-F1096Eurasia154.63
Q-L275Eurasia & Middle East7422.84
Q-L330Eurasia164.94
Q-L932Eurasia & Middle East195.86
Q-SK1932Eurasia & Middle East41.23
Q-YP3951Eurasia & Middle East82.47
Q-L527Northwestern Europe6921.3
Q-L804Northwestern Europe4012.35
Q-M3The Americas5115.74
Q-Z780The Americas288.64
Total324100.00

We have come so far. Yet when I consider the long and diverse history of Q branches, these few samples seems so very small.

More important though is realizing just how few of these Big Y tested samples are from the Americas. 15.74% from Q-M3 and 8.64% from Q-Z780. That is 79 out of 324 or 24.38% of our testing. This is why I continually push for more Native America lineage testing. This is why the project fund raises for that testing.

But, we have made it far enough to have a chart showing how far we have made it. <chagrin> Further in and further up…

Big Y Testing as of 2 March 2019 in the Q-M242 Project. Note that a handful of research only samples were excluded.
Categories Q-M242

2 thoughts on “A look at FTDNA Y-DNA Testing”

  1. The Q-M3 > Q-L663 line are doing our part! We now have one Big Y 500 and 3 Big Y 700 tests, with data expected sometime in the next week or so and a well documented genealogy going back to the 1620s to Villa de Santa María de los Lagos, Nueva Galicia! – Lee Martinez Kit 725239.

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