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Haplogroup Q (Y-DNA)

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Geographic distribution

Haplogroup Q is found predominantly in Central Siberia, Central Asia and among Native Americans. Approximately 90% of pre-Columbian Native Americans belonged to haplogroup Q, and all descend from the branch Q1a2a1 (L54), including various subclades of Q1a2a1a1 (M3) and Q1a2a1a2 (Z780). In Europe haplogroup Q is found chiefly in southern Sweden (5%), among Ashkenazi Jews (5%), and is various isolated pockets in central and Eastern Europe such as the Rhône-Alpes region of France, southern Sicily, southern Croatia, northern Serbia, parts of Poland and Ukraine. Šarić et al. (2013) also found 6.1% of haplogroup Q out of 412 samples from the island of Hvar in southern Croatia (accompanied by 2% of East Asian mtDNA haplogroup F).

Distribution of haplogroup Q in Europe

Distribution of haplogroup Q in Europe

Subclades

If you are new to genetic genealogy, please check our Introduction to phylogenetics to understand how to read a phylogenetic tree.


Click to enlarge Phylogenetic tree of haplogroup Q1a (Y-DNA) - Eupedia

Phylogenetic tree of haplogroup Q1b (Y-DNA) - Eupedia
  • Q1a (L472, MEH2) : found among the Koryaks of eastern Siberia
    • Q1a1 (F1096)
      • Q1a1a (F746)
        • Q1a1a1 (M120) : observed in Mongolia, Japan and India
      • Q1a1b (M25) : observed in Mongolia, Siberia, northern India, the Middle East, Italy and Ireland
        • Q1a1b1 (L712): found in Central & Eastern Europe (probably Hunnic and/or Mongolian)
          • Q1a1b1a (L713)
    • Q1a2 (L56, M346): found in Kazakhstan, Russia, Armenia and Hungary
      • Q1a2a (L53): found among the Mongols
        • Q1a2a1 (L54)
          • Q1a2a1a (CTS11969)
            • Q1a2a1a1 (M3): the main subclade of Native Americans
            • Q1a2a1a2 (L804): found in Germany, Scandinavia and Britain
              • Q1a2a1a2a (L807): observed in Britain
            • Q1a2a1b (Z780): found among Native Americans, notably in Mexico
            • Q1a2a1c (L330): the main subclade of the Mongols, also found among the Kazakhs and Uzbeks, as well as in Ukraine, Turkey and Greece (probably Mongolian and Turkic)
      • Q1a2b (L940): found in Central Asia, Afghanistan, India, Russia, Georgia, Hungary, Poland and Germany
        • Q1a2b1 (L527): found almost exclusively in Scandinavia and places settled by the Vikings
        • Q1a2b2 (L938): observed in Anatolia, Lithuania, Britain and Portugal
          • Q1a2b2a (L939): observed in Britain
      • Q1a2c (M323)
  • Q1b (L275): found among the Tatars of Russia, in Central Asia, Afghanistan and Pakistan
    • Q1b1 (M378): observed in Kazakhstan, India and Germany
      • Q1b1a (L245): found in the Middle East, among the Jews, in Central Europe and in Sicily
        • Q1b1a1 (L272.1): found in Sicily (probably Phoenician)

Origins & History

Haplogroup Q is thought to have originated in Central Asia or North Asia during of shortly after the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM, 26,000 to 19,000 years ago). Q descends from haplogroup P, which is also the ancestor of haplogroups R1a and R1b. Haplogroup Q quickly split into two main branches: Q1a and Q1b. The northern Q1a tribes expanded over Siberia as the climate warmed up after the LGM. Some Q1a crossed the still frozen Bering Strait to the American continent some time between 16,500 and 13,000 years ago. Q1b tribes stayed in Central Asia and later migrated south towards the Middle East.

Siberian & Native American Q1a

Many of clades of haplogroup Q1a are believed to have been brought by the Huns, the Mongols and the Turks, who all originated in the Altai region and around modern Mongolia. Haplogroup Q has been identified in Iron Age remains from Hunnic sites in Mongolia by Petkovski et al. (2006) and in Xinjiang by Kang et al. (2013). Modern Mongols belong to various subclades of Q1a, including by order of frequency Q1a2a1c (L330), Q1a1a1 (M120), Q1a1b (M25) and Q1a2a2 (YP4004).

Among those, the M25 subclade has been found in the North Caucasus (1000 year-old BZ640 subclade), in Poland and Hungary (1750 year-old BZ1000 subclade), in northern Ireland (YP1669 subclade), in Turkey, Iran and Pakistan (Y16840 subclade) and in Arabia (F5005 subclade).

Q1a is also the main paternal lineage of Native Americans. The testing of the genome of 12,600 year-old boy (known as Anzick-1) from Clovis culture in the USA confirmed that haplogroup Q1a2a1 (L54) was already present on the American continent before the end of the Last Glaciation. The vast maority of modern Native Americans belong to the Q1a2a1a1 (M3) subclade. As this subclade is exclusive to the American continent and the Anzick boy was negative for the M3 mutation, it is likely that M3 appeared after Q1a2a1 reached America.

Scandinavian Q1a

The oldest evidence to date of the presence of haplogroup Q is Europe is a single sample from the Khvalynsk culture (5200-4000 BCE), excavated in the middle Volga region and tested by Mathieson et al. (2016). This individual belonged to Q1a2-Y4827 (under L527), a subclade now found almost exclusively in Scandinavia or in places settled by the Vikings or other Scandinavian tribes (including the Burgundians in France, around Savoy). The Khvalynsk culture is ancestral to the Yamna culture, which represents the Late Copper Age and Early Bronze Age homeland of the Proto-Indo-European speakers. Q1a-Y4827 would have travelled alongside haplogroup R1a-Z284 (via Poland) or R1b-U106 (via the Danube) to Scandinavia. All modern carriers of Q-Y4827 seem to descend from a single ancestor who lived only 3,000 years ago. Q-Y4827 must have been much more widespread during the Bronze Age, but other lineages didn't leave any descendants.

The maternal equivalents of that Siberian Q1a2 in prehistoric Eastern Europe are probably mtDNA haplogroups C4a and C5, which have been found Mesolithic Karelia (north-western Russia), in the Neolithic Dnieper-Donets culture in Ukraine, and in the Bronze Age Catacomb culture in the Pontic Steppe. Nowadays mtDNA C is mostly found among Siberians, Mongols and Native Americans, who happen to share Y-haplogroup Q1a2 on the paternal side. The analysis of prehistoric genomes from Eastern Europe did confirm the presence of a small percentage of Amerindian-related autosomal admixture.

Oddly enough, the L804 branch, which descends from the same Northeast Siberian branch as the Native American M3, is now found exclusively in Germanic countries, including Scandinavia, Germany, Britain and northern France. Like the other Scandinavian branch (L527>Y4827), its genetic diversity suggests that this lineage expanded from a single ancestor living approximately 3,000 years ago, presumably in Scandinavia, in what would have been the Nordic Bronze Age. At present it remains unclear when and how Q1a2-L804 reached Europe in the first place, but it might have been a very long time ago, during the late glacial period or the Mesolithic period. It may well have arrived at the same time as Q-Y4827. Alternatively, L804 might have come as a minor lineage accompanying haplogroup N1c1 from Mongolia until it reached Northeast Europe during the Neolithic period, some 7,000 years ago.

Central Asian & Indo-Iranian Q1b1

While Q1a is more Mongolian, Siberian and Native American, Q1b1 (F1213) appears to have originated in Central Asia and migrated early to South Asia and the Middle East. The highest frequency of Q1b1 in Europe is found among Ashkenazi Jews (5%) and Sephardic Jews (2%), suggesting that Q1b was present in the Levant before the Jewish disapora 2,000 years ago. In fact, Jewish Q1b all belong to the Y2200 subclade, which was formed some 2,600 years ago. Other subclades of Q1b1 are found throughout the Middle East, including, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, Lebanon (2%), and in isolated places settled by the Phoenicians in southern Europe (Crete, Sicily, south-west Iberia). This means that Q1b must have been present in the Levant at latest around 1200 BCE, a very long time before the Hunnic migrations. One hypothesis is that Q1b reached the Middle East alongside haplogroup R1a-Z93 with the Indo-Iranian migrations from Central Asia during the Late Bronze Age. The age estimate for the Middle Eastern Q1b1a (L245) branch is 4,500 years, which corresponds roughly to the beginning of the Proto-Indo-Iranian expansion to Central Asia. The other branch, Q1b1b (Y2265) is found in Central Asia, Iran, Pakistan and India, a distribution that also agrees with an Indo-Iranian dispersal.

Q1b1 was probably not one of the original lineages of Proto-Indo-European speakers of the Pontic-Caspian Steppe since it is almost completely absent from Balto-Slavic and Germanic countries. Nevertheless, it is reasonable to assume that Q1b1 was indigenous to the Ural mountains or Central Asia and was absorbed by the Indo-Iranian branch of the Indo-Europeans there during the Bronze Age, either during the Sintashta or Andronovo culture, then spread with the Indo-Aryans to India, Iran and the Near East. Q1b1 probably settled in the Levant at the same time as R1a-Z93, as both lineages are found among the Jews and the Lebanese and in places historically colonised by the Phoenicians. Autosomal analyses have confirmed that all Levantine people (Jews, Lebanese, Palestinians, Syrians) possess about 0.5% of Northeast Asian (Mongoloid) admixture. Since these populations lack Mongoloid mtDNA, the presence of Northeast Asian admixture can only be explained by the 2% of Q1b1 among Levantine men, the only paternal lineage of Mongoloid origin in the region.

South Asian Q1b2

In contrast with Q1b1, Q1b2 (Y1150) is found almost exclusively in the Indian subcontinent. The two Q1b branch split from each others some 15,000 years ago, during the Late Paleolithic period. Data is still sparse about this subclade, but is it reasonable to assume that it has been in South Asia at least since the end of the last Ice Age, long before the Indo-European migrations.

Famous individuals

J. Robert Oppenheimer

According to commercial tests conducted by other members of the Jewish Oppenheimer family, the American theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer (1904-1967) belonged to haplogroup Q1b. Oppenheimer played a major role in the Manhattan Project and is considered one of the fathers of the atomic bomb.

Deepak Chopra in November 2006, speaking at Yahoo (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Deepak Chopra (b. 1947) is an Indian American author, public speaker, alternative medicine advocate, and a prominent figure in the New Age movement. He was revealed to belong to haplogroup Q1b-L275 by the PBS television series Finding Your Roots.

Tony Kushner (photo by The Laura Flanders Show - CC BY 3.0)

Tony Kushner (b. 1956) is an American playwright and screenwriter. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1993 for his play Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes. He co-authored with Eric Roth the screenplay for the 2005 film Munich, and he wrote the screenplay for the 2012 film Lincoln, both critically acclaimed movies, for which he received Academy Award nominations for Best Adapted Screenplay. For his work, he received a National Medal of Arts from President Barack Obama in 2013. The PBS television series Finding Your Roots mentioned that he carries a Y-haplogroup common among Asians and Native Americans and found in 6% of the Jews, which can only be haplogroup Q. All Jewish Q fall under the Q1b branch.

Other famous members of haplogroup Q

  • Lee Van Cleef (1925-1989) : Hollywood actor known for his roles in Spaghetti Westerns such as The Good, the Bad and the Ugly. He is thought to have belonged to haplogroup Q1b1 (YP740 subclade) based on the testing of a relative

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