Human Genetics

, Volume 116, Issue 4, pp 279–291

Signature of recent historical events in the European Y-chromosomal STR haplotype distribution


  • Lutz Roewer
    • Institute of Legal MedicineHumboldt-University
  • Peter J. P. Croucher
    • First Department of MedicineChristian-Albrechts-University
    • Institute of Medical Informatics and StatisticsChristian-Albrechts-University
  • Sascha Willuweit
    • Institute of Legal MedicineHumboldt-University
  • Tim T. Lu
    • Institute of Medical Informatics and StatisticsChristian-Albrechts-University
  • Manfred Kayser
    • Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
    • Department of Forensic Molecular BiologyErasmus University
  • Rüdiger Lessig
    • Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity of Leipzig
  • Peter de Knijff
    • Forensic Laboratory for DNA ResearchLeiden University
  • Mark A. Jobling
    • Department of GeneticsUniversity of Leicester
  • Chris Tyler-Smith
    • The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
    • Institute of Medical Informatics and StatisticsChristian-Albrechts-University
Original Investigation

DOI: 10.1007/s00439-004-1201-z

Cite this article as:
Roewer, L., Croucher, P.J.P., Willuweit, S. et al. Hum Genet (2005) 116: 279. doi:10.1007/s00439-004-1201-z


Previous studies of human Y-chromosomal single-nucleotide polymorphisms (Y-SNPs) established a link between the extant Y-SNP haplogroup distribution and the prehistoric demography of Europe. By contrast, our analysis of seven rapidly evolving Y-chromosomal short tandem repeat loci (Y-STRs) in over 12,700 samples from 91 different locations in Europe reveals a signature of more recent historic events, not previously detected by other genetic markers. Cluster analysis based upon molecular variance yields two clearly identifiable sub-clusters of Western and Eastern European Y-STR haplotypes, and a diverse transition zone in central Europe, where haplotype spectra change more rapidly with longitude than with latitude. This and other observed patterns of Y-STR similarity may plausibly be related to particular historical incidents, including, for example, the expansion of the Franconian and Ottoman Empires. We conclude that Y-STRs may be capable of resolving male genealogies to an unparalleled degree and could therefore provide a useful means to study local population structure and recent demographic history.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005