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Announcement: Paternal Haplogroups Updated

This update applies for customers on the new version of the 23andMe site. Customers on the previous version of the site will see updated results when their accounts are transitioned.

We are excited to announce that we have updated the Y-chromosome assignments provided in the Paternal Haplogroup report. This update was made to reflect the new scientific understanding of how paternal lineages relate to each other. As a result of this update, males will see a change in the Paternal Haplogroup report.

Since a paternal haplogroup is based on the Y chromosome, which females don't inherit, females do not have paternal haplogroups. While females will not see a change in their Paternal Haplogroup report, they may see changes to the paternal haplogroup assignments of male relatives and friends in the various Tools features.

This article discusses the following topics, and you can read the article in its entirety, navigate directly to a section of interest, or skip to the Question and Answers section.

 

Paternal Haplogroup

Paternal haplogroups are families of Y chromosomes defined by specific sets of shared mutations. Your paternal haplogroup tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond, and indicates where your Y-chromosome lineage fits into the genealogical tree that shows how Y chromosomes around the world relate to one another.

 

Key points about this update

In the last few years, scientists have fully sequenced thousands of Y chromosomes. These data have vastly increased our understanding of how paternal lineages relate to each other, and we have substantially updated our Y-chromosome tree to reflect the work of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (as of January 4, 2016).

We have also updated the way we refer to each haplogroup. Paternal haplogroup names will now consist of a letter corresponding to the major branch and the name of a representative genetic marker instead of the long-form haplogroup names previously used. For example, if we previously reported your haplogroup as “Q1a3a,” we now report it as “Q-M3,” indicating that your Y-chromosome lineage belongs to a subgroup of haplogroup Q that bears the M3 marker. We made this change because the long-form paternal haplogroup names can change from year-to-year, whereas the short-form names are relatively stable.

Many branches of the tree are associated with tens or even hundreds of markers that are equivalent to one another with respect to their haplogroup information content. For clarity, the academic literature on a particular haplogroup often refers to a single representative marker from among the set of equivalent markers, and we now report your haplogroup using this representative marker. In some cases, we may have genotyped you for an equivalent marker instead of the representative marker.

 

Comparing your new assignment to a previous assignment

Although the new assignment may look different from a previous assignment you received from 23andMe, in most cases, the new haplogroup assignment is equivalent to your previous assignment. For example, if we previously reported your haplogroup as “Q1a3a,” we now report it as “Q-M3,” indicating that your Y-chromosome lineage belongs to a subgroup of haplogroup Q that bears the M3 marker.

The major change is how your haplogroup relates to other groups on the Y-chromosome tree. This often leads to a more specific picture of the geographic distribution of your haplogroup around the world.

 

Questions and Answers

Why did my paternal haplogroup assignment change?

You may see changes in your paternal haplogroup assignment as a result of the updates we recently made to how 23andMe reports paternal haplogroups. Paternal haplogroup assignments now include the name of the major branch and the name of a representative genetic marker. For example, if we previously reported your haplogroup as “Q1a3a,” we now report it as “Q-M3,” indicating that your Y-chromosome lineage belongs to a subgroup of haplogroup Q that bears the M3 marker.

My paternal haplogroup assignment hasn’t changed, why?

This update applies to customers on the new version of the 23andMe site. Customers on the previous version of the site will see updated results when their accounts are transitioned. This update was made for paternal haplogroup assignments only, so females will not see any changes on their Haplogroup report. Since paternal haplogroups are based on the Y chromosome, which females don't inherit, females do not have paternal haplogroups. While females will not see a change in their Haplogroup report, they may see changes to the paternal haplogroup assignments of male relatives and friends in various Tools features.

Will the maternal haplogroup assignments change?

No, 23andMe does not have immediate plans to change the maternal haplogroup assignment provided to customers. Few changes have occurred to the tree of maternal haplogroups (which traces families of mitochondrial DNA) since we began generating maternal haplogroup assignments, so the maternal haplogroup assignments remain up-to-date.

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