Genetic Chaos

Monday, May 03, 2004

In the name of the father: surnames and genetics

Hereditary surnames contain information about relatedness within populations. They have been used as crude indicators of population structure and migration events, and to subdivide samples for epidemiological purposes. In societies that use patrilineal surnames, a surname should correlate with a type of Y chromosome, provided certain assumptions are met. Recent studies involving Y-chromosomal haplotyping and surname analysis are promising and indicate that genealogists of the future could be turning to records written in DNA, as well as in paper archives, to solve their problems.

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