Haplogroups are categorizations created to encapsulate branches in the human tree that occured thousands, or tens of thousands of years ago. All Y-STR signatures will belong to one of these groups. Haplogroups are designated by another type of marker on the Y-Chromosome called SNP's (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism). It has been found that certain "modal" values at various DYS loci correspond to certain haplogroups, meaning they share the same SNP marker.
The image to left (click for enlarged version) contains the 2002 YCC Haplogroup chart.
Haplogroups are categorized from A through R, with sub-categories falling beneath each. Each of the branches and leafs on the tree is categorized by a given SNP value. For instance, most Western Europeans fall into the R1b haplogroup. This means they carry the following SNP markers:
M207 - This represents the SNP for the "R" haplogroup.
M173 - This represents the SNP for the "1" sub-category of the "R" group.
P25 - This represents the SNP for the "b" sub-category of the "R1" sub-group.
Also, note that being in the "R" group means that you carry the SNP markers of the parent groups of "R" as well.
The following Haplogroups represent those found in the Grant DNA Project thus far:
A population of Neolithic farmers that moved from the Middle East into Europe and Central Asia between 6,000 and 8,000 years ago. Only found at rates of 1-3% in Europe or Britain, it is found at rates of up to 30% in the Caucasus where it reaches its highest levels outside of the Middle East.
Those members of the Grant project who are G or G2 probably represent the native population of Scotland, either Celtic or Pictish (though both have been proposed).
I - This group is isolated to Northwestern Europe. Common in Saxon populations and extending down into both Central Europe and up into Scandinavia. Some sub-categories of this group, such as I1a are very common in Norway, Sweden and Denmark.
Thus far the Grant project has turned up either I or I1b (not SNP confirmed) and it is likely that these represent Norman or Anglo-Saxon ancestry. Most are common varieties seen in England and Scotland. Only one kit is of type I1a, which makes sense since the owner's ancestry is from Denmark not Britain.
|N - An unusal type that originated in Mongolia or China and migrated to Siberia. Common in Western Siberia and Finland but rare elsewhere. The one N in our project belongs to an individual whose Grant ancestors were from Finland.|
R1a - Originally thought to have originated in the Caucasus region around the Black Sea, new research is indicating that this type may have originated in the region around Khazakstan, possibly even in India or Pakistan. R1a spread into Central Asia and migrated across the Russian Steppes into Eastern Europe where it reaches high levels in Hungary, Poland, the Ukraine and the Slavic regions (the peoples genetically closest to Norwegians).
R1a is characterized by the mutations SRY10831.2- (negative as opposed to positive) and M17+. M17 is what most academic studies have tested for to determine R1a - it actually categorizes R1a1, which seems to encompass all R1a (I have yet to see a single "R1a" that was SRY10831.2- and also M17-. Anyone SRY10831.2- seems to be universally M17+, in other words all R1a are also R1a1). For this reason you will many times see R1a and R1a1 used interchangably within the literature.
One particular group of Y-STR values within R1a shows matches in Central Asia, around the Siberian Altai and Uyghur province of Western China. The recent find of Caucasian mummies in the Takla Makan deserts of the Uyghur province prove that a race of red and blond haired people with Scandinavian features, over 6' tall, once lived in this region. R1a is found at very high percentages in Western Norway, where it reaches frequencies between 23% to 30%. Some researchers believe the Icelandic Sagas, which describe a migration of a population from Asia beyond the Ural mountains, to Norway, may actually be based in fact. Thor Heyerdahl, of Kon Tiki fame, spent the remaining years of his life attempting to prove this theory -- and DNA evidence is seeming to prove him right. The Swedes have long believed this legend, and the emergence of a specific type of Scandinavian R1a with a Central Asian motif seems to support this account.
The MacDonalds have determined that their progenitor, Somerled, belonged to haplogroup R1a (of the same Central Asian motif) and the Douglas's progenitor, Willem de Douglas, recently turned up R1a according to the Clan Douglas DNA project. It seems this holds true for most of the pseudo-aristocracy of Scandinavia. R1a is found at levels of less than 1% in most regions of Ireland, and at levels of 3-5% in England, and only slightly higher in Scotland. The highest concentrations of this haplogroup are seen in areas of Britain colonized by the Norse Vikings. One of the leading DNA experts has called R1a the only sure proof of Norse Viking origins when seen in men of deep British ancestry.
One kit in our project that is R1a belongs to an indivdual with a deep and well documented ancestry in England and of earlier Scottish origin. This R1a Y-STR is indicative of Viking origin with a Central Asian motif. Therefore this kit represents the candidate signature of the original Norse Chiefs of the Clan Grant.
R1b - The most common haplogroup in Western Europe and Britain. This type is believed to have gestated in Spain during the Ice Age, migrating back into Europe with the retreat of the glaciers. People of Celtic ancestry show very close matches with the Basque people of Spain (more recent theories have divided R1b into "Iberian and Non-Iberian" and seem to indicate that some R1b spent the glacial period somewhere outside of Spain). Most people of European or British ancestry will fall into this haplogroup. R1b is characterized by the P25 mutation (P25+). However, almost all R1b types fall within one of the sub-categories of R1b, typically M269+ called R1b3 (YCC 2003 Chart) or R1b1c (YCC 2005 Chart). This is a rapidly changing group and new SNP's are being discovered regularly so nothing here can be taken as static since it is very much fluid.
It is expected that most of the members of the Grant DNA Project will be of this haplogroup. In fact, the one line we have identified in our project as being the Chiefly line is R1b, which would be expected if the line were related to Andrew Stewart. The Royal line of the Stewarts in Scotland were descended from a family of Breton (in Western France) nobles, so it follows that if Andrew Stewart were of the Royal Line and married into the family, we should expect that the Chiefly line would be R1b. We have also identified a few kits in the project whose owners are directly related to the Chiefly line.
However, most of those that fall into the R1b haplogroup will be unrelated to either the current line of the Chiefs or the original Norse (Haplogroup R1a) line. These DNA signatures represent the various tacksmen, farmers/crofters, peasant classes, etc, that settled in Strathspey or Glenmoriston and assumed the name of the Chief on whose lands they were living. This is the reason that so many project members show very close matches with other individuals, of other surnames, even at the 25 or 37 marker levels in Family Tree DNA's "Y-Search" database.