Monday, November 9, 2009

Good news

I received the following message, posted on Family Tree DNA website, through one of the mailing lists I subscribed:

"An academic research team, including our chief mtDNA scientist Dr. Doron Behar, is collecting mtDNA haplogroup H full sequence results for a population study. The study will update the haplogroup H tree and provide information on the distribution of subclades. Every sample used will help the research team to develop and resolve the H haplogroup tree. Your mtDNA full sequence results qualify for possible inclusion in this study."

Which means that Israeli scientist Doron Behar and his team are going to start analysing the details of the mitochondrial haplogroup (matrilineal descent) that goes by the letter H, to which I belong (my sub-haplogroup, or subclade, is H7, as I have already mentioned here). Finally!

I heard about Behar’s work for the first time in 2006 (he was then at Rambam Medical Center in Haifa), when he and his colleagues published an amazing paper in the American Journal of Human Genetics. As I already wrote in a previous post, through the genetic study of mitochondrial DNA, they discovered that nearly half of Ashkenazi Jews (“German” Jews) in the world today are descended from just four “founding mothers”, most likely Hebrew women from the Middle-East, who lived in Northern Europe, in what is now Germany, one to two thousand years ago.

Apparently, Behar, who as the message says is chief mitochondrial DNA scientist at Family Tree DNA (, has now decided he has enough data to go on, from clients there, to undertake the same kind of study on haplogroup H. And he is inviting participation.

I think this is a fantastic example of how scientists can put to good use individual genetic data (without disclosing anybody’s identity) to further our understanding of the migration routes of human populations through the ages.

The message, though, is only visible to those who have had their mitochondrial DNA fully sequenced at FTDNA - and who belong to mitochondrial haplogroup H.

Since I tested with 23andme (which does not offer full sequentiation of mitochondrial DNA), I won’t be able to participate personally. But I’m really curious about what the results will reveal about my own past.

Image: Mitochondrial haplogroup H tree - Fonte:

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