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How is our Haplogroup letter determined?

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  • How is our Haplogroup letter determined?

    I'm fairly new to this DNA search for my ancestors, and I haven't really seen anything posted on how our haplogroup letter is determined based on our DNA tests. If this has been answered already I apologize.

    From what I've read so far various mutations can occur in different haplogroups, so what is it that is so specific to link everyone to a specific haplogroup? My haplogroup is supposed to be an old one, N*, and my mutations are 16292T and 16519C, and I've seen both of those mutations in various other haplogroups. I've uploaded my results in the mitosearch and found my same mutations to others with Haplogroup H and W, so what is it about my DNA that puts me in Haplogroup N*?

    I've waiting for my refinement test, but from what I've read, I don't think it's going to change my haplogroup N* to a different letter at all.

    It's amazing to me that this information can be derived at all from one little swab in your mouth.

    And I guess I may as well ask my other question which is probably going to sound very dumb, but who exactly was tested originally to determine the base line for the haplogroups? Was it tribes of people still living in the regions, or bones from bodies found?

    Again, I do apologize if these questions have been answered, but I haven't really found anything that would answer them for me.

  • #2
    Hello Marcia,

    Welcome. While you wait for your mtDNA refine test results, may I suggest you browse the following links, from a basic introduction to a more thorough study about mtDNA.

    http://www.ilbg18230.pwp.blueyonder....sion/intro.htm
    http://www.mcdonald.cam.ac.uk/genetics/iceage.pdf
    http://www.ebc.ee/tymri00/PhD/2004/tambets_thesis.pdf

    Best of journeys!

    Victor

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Marcia S.
      From what I've read so far various mutations can occur in different haplogroups, so what is it that is so specific to link everyone to a specific haplogroup?
      FTDNA now tests specifically for haplogroup. The test is different from the list of mutations that you get. As you suspected, your list of HVR2 mutations will not change your haplogroup.

      People in other haplogroups have not shared a common ancestor with you for thousands of years. Hence, only mutation matches within your own haplogroup are significant.

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      • #4
        Victor....

        Just a note to say thank you for posting that information! For a newbie such as myself, I found it very informative!!!

        Thanks again...
        Barb

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        • #5
          Thank you both for replying. Felt like I was back in high school with the articles you recommended Victor! They were very interesting and informative. Answered a few of my questions, and made me want to ask more. I'm just so hyped up to find out my deep ancestral roots, it's just so frustrating because there's just not enough out there for my haplogroup category. From what I've read, I'm under the impression N* is apparently the "mother" of various other haplogroups which I knew before. Obviously the entire makeup of my DNA specifically, makes me an N* as opposed to an H or W category. I could be wrong, but that's what seems to fit since my mutations can be found in other haplogroups.

          One of my other burning questions was how did they arrive at each haplogroup category. How did they figure that first there was L, then M and N macrohaplogroups? I mean, did they actually have remains and started placing the baseline haplogroups from that as a source? I just want to know how this all began I guess.

          I should have paid more attention in school, but unfortunately science and biology were never my favorite subjects. Who knew all these years later I would take an interest in something like DNA?

          Thanks again for your guidance in this matter. I appreciate all the help I've received from this FTDNA forum. Everyone is always so great in giving advice or sharing information.

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          • #6
            One of my other burning questions was how did they arrive at each haplogroup category. How did they figure that first there was L, then M and N macrohaplogroups? I mean, did they actually have remains and started placing the baseline haplogroups from that as a source? I just want to know how this all began I guess.
            This is really a very good question. The quote below from the Genographic project touches on this point.


            Some components of our genetic inheritance remain relatively stable over the course of generations. Rare mutations in these components are easily identified and accumulate in a particular order and rate. When compared across a broad spectrum of DNA samples, they act as a time line. These “genetic markers” are passed on to each generation.

            Over time, different populations accumulate their own distinctive set of markers that act as the equivalent of ancestral markers of descent. Each identifies progressively more ancient lineages

            By comparing DNA samples from different populations, patterns emerge that help reveal the human family tree as encoded in our genes. To identify and analyze these patterns, the project team is gathering genetic data from the peoples of the world, as well as associated geographic, anthropological and cultural data. It is hoped that this effort will help us gain new insights into the emergence of humanity’s diverse tapestry.
            However it is unclear how they determine the "particular order" and rate of these mutations. Certainly there have to be some uderlying assumptions, for example, humans all come from Africa, or the natives of Australia and the age of their ancestral remains etc...

            The process is described in Spencer Wells book, "journey of man", he compares it to a bouillabaisse recipe that has changed over time. The metaphor really does not tell you the specifics however.

            I suspect that the real answer is a combination of several inputs. Like the work of pioneer Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza who compared Genes, Language and People.

            I don't think they can just plug DNA mutations in a database and just run statistical analysis to come up with a picture! There must be a framework and some basic assumptions.

            I suspect that the haplogroup picture will be re-ordered a few more times and we still don't have a final picture. In your case with Haplogroup N* there may still be a few puzzle pieces that need to be set in place.

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            • #7
              Thanks for the additional information. I know there has to be a starting point somewhere for the initial haplogroups such as L, M and N, so your reply seems to help clarify things a little bit more for me. It just boggles my mind to think of the research involved in all of this and how they could start it all.
              I had images of old bones found in Africa and the Middle East and the researchers trying to obtain DNA samples from them. I would think somewhere along the line that has actually occurred. This whole genographic project is amazing to me, but the researchers really have their work cut out for them, and I applaud them for taking it on for all of us who want to know about our deepest ancestry. Thanks again! Marcia S.

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