Human Genetics

, Volume 116, Issue 4, pp 279–291 | Cite as

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

  • Lutz Roewer
  • Peter J. P. Croucher
  • Sascha Willuweit
  • Tim T. Lu
  • Manfred Kayser
  • Rüdiger Lessig
  • Peter de Knijff
  • Mark A. Jobling
  • Chris Tyler-Smith
  • Michael KrawczakEmail author
Original Investigation


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.


Effective Population Size Spatial Autocorrelation Analysis Year Before Present Geographic Resource Analysis Support System Infinite Site Model 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



The authors wish to thank Wulf Schiefenhövel, Andechs, for helpful comments and criticisms, and Brian Fulfrost of the UCSC GIS Technology Lab for valuable advice on geo-spatial data interpolation and visualisation.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lutz Roewer
    • 1
  • Peter J. P. Croucher
    • 2
    • 3
  • Sascha Willuweit
    • 1
  • Tim T. Lu
    • 3
  • Manfred Kayser
    • 4
    • 5
  • Rüdiger Lessig
    • 6
  • Peter de Knijff
    • 7
  • Mark A. Jobling
    • 8
  • Chris Tyler-Smith
    • 9
  • Michael Krawczak
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Legal MedicineHumboldt-UniversityBerlinGermany
  2. 2.First Department of MedicineChristian-Albrechts-UniversityKielGermany
  3. 3.Institute of Medical Informatics and StatisticsChristian-Albrechts-UniversityKielGermany
  4. 4.Max-Planck-Institute for Evolutionary AnthropologyLeipzigGermany
  5. 5.Department of Forensic Molecular BiologyErasmus UniversityRotterdamThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Institute of Legal MedicineUniversity of LeipzigGermany
  7. 7.Forensic Laboratory for DNA ResearchLeiden UniversityThe Netherlands
  8. 8.Department of GeneticsUniversity of LeicesterUK
  9. 9.The Wellcome Trust Sanger InstituteHinxtonUK

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