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Am J Hum Genet. Nov 1997; 61(5): 1015–1035.
PMCID: PMC1716025

Human genetic affinities for Y-chromosome P49a,f/TaqI haplotypes show strong correspondence with linguistics.


Numerous population samples from around the world have been tested for Y chromosome-specific p49a,f/TaqI restriction polymorphisms. Here we review the literature as well as unpublished data on Y-chromosome p49a,f/TaqI haplotypes and provide a new nomenclature unifying the notations used by different laboratories. We use this large data set to study worldwide genetic variability of human populations for this paternally transmitted chromosome segment. We observe, for the Y chromosome, an important level of population genetics structure among human populations (FST = .230, P < .001), mainly due to genetic differences among distinct linguistic groups of populations (FCT = .246, P < .001). A multivariate analysis based on genetic distances between populations shows that human population structure inferred from the Y chromosome corresponds broadly to language families (r = .567, P < .001), in agreement with autosomal and mitochondrial data. Times of divergence of linguistic families, estimated from their internal level of genetic differentiation, are fairly concordant with current archaeological and linguistic hypotheses. Variability of the p49a,f/TaqI polymorphic marker is also significantly correlated with the geographic location of the populations (r = .613, P < .001), reflecting the fact that distinct linguistic groups generally also occupy distinct geographic areas. Comparison of Y-chromosome and mtDNA RFLPs in a restricted set of populations shows a globally high level of congruence, but it also allows identification of unequal maternal and paternal contributions to the gene pool of several populations.

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