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The relationship between surname frequency and Y chromosome variation in Spain

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  • The relationship between surname frequency and Y chromosome variation in Spain

    European Journal of Human Genetics (2016) 24, 120–128; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2015.75; published online 22 April 2015
    open access
    http://www.nature.com/ejhg/journal/v...hg201575a.html

    The relationship between surname frequency and Y chromosome variation in Spain

    Conrado Martinez-Cadenas1,2, Alejandro Blanco-Verea3, Barbara Hernando1, George BJ Busby2,4, Maria Brion3, Angel Carracedo3,5,6, Antonio Salas6 and Cristian Capelli2

    1Department of Medicine, Jaume I University of Castellon, Castellon, Spain
    2Human Evolutionary Genetics Group, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
    3Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria de Santiago de Compostela, Grupo de Medicina Xenómica, Complexo Hospitalario Universitario de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    4Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, Roosevelt Drive, Oxford, UK
    5Center of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Saudi Arabia
    6Unidade de Xenética, Departamento de Anatomía Patolóxica e Ciencias Forenses, Instituto de Ciencias Forenses, Facultade de Medicina, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Santiago de Compostela, Spain
    Correspondence: Dr C Capelli, Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, The Tinbergen Building, South Parks Road, Oxford OX1 3PS, UK. Tel: +44 1865 271261; Fax: +44 1865 310447; E-mail: cristian.capelli@zoo.ox.ac.uk

    Received 15 September 2014; Revised 28 February 2015; Accepted 17 March 2015

    Abstract
    In most societies, surnames are passed down from fathers to sons, just like the Y chromosome. It follows that, theoretically, men sharing the same surnames would also be expected to share related Y chromosomes. Previous investigations have explored such relationships, but so far, the only detailed studies that have been conducted are on samples from the British Isles. In order to provide additional insights into the correlation between surnames and Y chromosomes, we focused on the Spanish population by analysing Y chromosomes from 2121 male volunteers representing 37 surnames. The results suggest that the degree of coancestry within Spanish surnames is highly dependent on surname frequency, in overall agreement with British but not Irish surname studies. Furthermore, a reanalysis of comparative data for all three populations showed that Irish surnames have much greater and older surname descent clusters than Spanish and British ones, suggesting that Irish surnames may have considerably earlier origins than Spanish or British ones. Overall, despite closer geographical ties between Ireland and Britain, our analysis points to substantial similarities in surname origin and development between Britain and Spain, while possibly hinting at unique demographic or social events shaping Irish surname foundation and development.
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