Phylogeography of human Y-chromosome haplogroup Q3-L275 from an academic/citizen science collaboration

February 13, 2017

Maxsat Zhabagin, researcher, Laboratory For Population Genetics, NLA in cooperation with well-known scientists Oleg Balanovsky, Rebecah Canada, Nadia Al-Zahery  and others published  a new study in BMC Evolutionary Biology  (IF 3,6) on the potential of full Y-chromosome sequencing for reconstructing haplogroup Q3 phylogeography.

Researchers analyzed 47 fully sequenced Y-chromosomes and reconstructed the haplogroup Q3 phylogenetic tree in detail. Haplogroup Q3-L275, derived from the oldest known split within Eurasian/American haplogroup Q, most likely occurred in West or Central Asia in the Upper Paleolithic period. During the Mesolithic and Neolithic epochs, Q3 remained a minor component of the West Asian Y-chromosome pool and gave rise to five branches (Q3a to Q3e), which spread across West, Central and parts of South Asia. Around 3–4 millennia ago (Bronze Age), the Q3a branch underwent a rapid expansion, splitting into seven branches, some of which entered Europe. One of these branches, Q3a1, was acquired by a population ancestral to Ashkenazi Jews and grew within this population during the 1st millennium AD, reaching up to 5% in present day Ashkenazi.

This study dataset was generated by a massive Y-chromosome genotyping effort in the genetic genealogy community, and phylogeographic patterns were revealed by a collaboration of population geneticists and genetic genealogists. This positive experience of collaboration between academic and citizen science provides a model for further joint projects. Merging data and skills of academic and citizen science promises to combine, respectively, quality and quantity, generalization and specialization, and achieve a well-balanced and careful interpretation of the paternal-side history of human populations.