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Just a minute Frank

Frank may have been getting more credit for our Eastern European and North African/Middle Eastern genes than he is due.

I was poking around the other night on 23andMe when I focused on mother/grandmother’s haplogroup U4a1a which is about 15,000 years old.  From this it occurs to me that her DNA might provide some of the eastern slant that shows up in us.  How recent that link is I can’t yet tell.

My very preliminary web search turned up the relative presence of U4a1 below:



Eastern Europe (n = 4,008)abc 1.8 (74)
Central and eastern Europe (n = 2,016)a 1.0 (21)
Northeastern Europe (n = 1,013)b 0.9 (9)
Volga–Ural region (n = 979)c 4.5 (44)
Central and western Europe (n = 3,704)d 0.5 (19)

U4a1a, our mitochondrial DNA from Dory (m/gm), is a subclade of U4a1 and until we hear otherwise can be assumed to reside in those populations in roughly similar proportions.  The study for which this abstract was prepared might have those proportions for U4a1a.

There may be ways to separate out the mitochondrial (female) contribution. Sometime I’ll look into that.  On the other hand, Merle we may get you to spit into a tube yet—our treat.


  • Haplogroup U4 is found in western Eurasia, from Mongolia to central Europe. It arose about 25,000 years ago and subsequently spread with the migrations that followed the end of the Ice Age about 14,000 years ago.


  • Haplogroup: U4, a subgroup of R
  • Age: 25,000 years
  • Region: Europe, Asia, Northern Africa
  • Populations: Indians, Europeans
  • Highlight: The range of haplogroup U spans three continents: Asia, Europe and Africa.
  • Locations of haplogroup U4 circa 500 years ago, before the era of intercontinental travel.

Also see

Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeny in Eastern and Western Slavs

  1. 1.        B. Malyarchuk*, 
  2. 2.        T. Grzybowski†, 
  3. 3.        M. Derenko*, 
  4. 4.        M. Perkova*, 
  5. 5.        T. Vanecek‡, 
  6. 6.        J. Lazur§,
  7. 7.        P. Gomolcak‖ and 
  8. 8.        I. Tsybovsky¶

+Author Affiliations

1.        *Institute of Biological Problems of the North, Far-East Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Magadan, Russia
2.        †Department of Molecular and Forensic Genetics, Ludwik Rydygier Collegium Medicum, Institute of Forensic Medicine, The Nicolaus Copernicus University, Bydgoszcz, Poland
3.        ‡Department of Pathology, Medical Faculty Hospital, Charles University, Pilsen, Czech Republic
4.        §Department of Laboratory Medicine, LABMED, Kosice, Slovakia
5.        ‖Institute of Pathology, Slovak Medical University, Bratislava, Slovakia
6.        ¶Institute of Problems of Criminalistics and Forensic Expertise, Minsk, Belarus
  1. E-mail:
  • Accepted May 7, 2008.

From the Abstract

Haplogroup U4a1 is largely characterized by an eastern European and a west Siberian distribution being found at highest frequencies (7–21%) in populations such as Mari, Chuvash, and Kets (table 1, supplementary table S2, Supplementary Material online). We investigated the structure of haplogroup U4a1 by complete genome sequencing of 12 mtDNAs from populations of Poles, Czechs, Slovaks, Belorussians, and Russians. The resulting tree (fig. 1) indicates that there are at least 3 subclusters within haplogroup U4a1–U4a1a, with transition at np 961 and insertion of 3 C’s at np 965, and its subclade U4a1a1 defined by additional transitions at nps 8167 and 12618 and insertion of 1 C at np 5899; U4a2 defined by transitions at nps 745 and 3204; and U4a1c characterized by a rank of mutations at nps 8155, 13158, 14110, and 16234. Interestingly, among eastern Slavs (Russians and Belorussians) the only specific subclade U4a1a1 has been revealed, whereas in western Slavs the remaining subclades have been found. The coalescence time estimate for U4a1 complete genomes was 14,650 ± 2,400 YBP. This value is close to those (around 10,000–14,000 YBP) calculated from the first hypervariable segment (HVS1) data for central European (Germanic-speaking) populations but not for the Baltic Finno-Ugric and Volga people (around 20,000–22,000 YBP) (Tambets et al. 2003).


Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeny in Eastern and Western Slavs

Table 1

Haplogroups U4a1 and U4a2 Distribution (Percentage with Number of Individuals in Parentheses) in Different Populations of Eastern, Central, and Western Europe







Eastern Europe (n = 4,008)abc 1.8 (74) 1.4 (57) 0.8 (31) 0.3 (9) 0.3 (13)
Central and eastern Europe (n = 2,016)a 1.0 (21) 1.9 (38) 1.2 (24) 0.4 (7) 0.1 (3)
Northeastern Europe (n = 1,013)b 0.9 (9) 0.8 (8) 0.6 (6) 0.2 (2) 0
Volga–Ural region (n = 979)c 4.5 (44) 1.1 (11) 0.1 (1) 0 1.0 (10)
Central and western Europe (n = 3,704)d 0.5 (19) 0.3 (12) 0.2 (9) 0.1 (2) 0
  • NOTE.—The data were taken from the literature cited in supplementary table S2 (Supplementary Material online).
  • ↵a Russians, Belorussians, Ukrainians, Poles, and Slovaks.
  • ↵b Finns, Karelians, Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians.
  • ↵c Maris, Komi-Zyrians, Komi-Permians, Mordwin, Udmurts, Chuwashes, Tatars, and Bashkirs.
  • ↵d British, Germans, Czechs, Austrians, Swiss, Bosnians, Slovenians, Italians, French, Spaniards, and Portuguese.

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Two people walk into a bar…

I’ve been asked how we got started on this quest. As all such stories should go, it starts with, “Two people walk into a bar…”

In the spring of 2010 my son, David, was in a Toronto bar with his girlfriend Angella. They were discussing finding an appropriate birthday present for her father.

While surfing the net on a friends web-enabled phone they discovered that 23andMe was offering DNA testing for both medical and genealogical results for $99 down from $495. The offer expired in 20 minutes. They bought one for her father and David also bought one for himself since he had been asking “who am I?” largely motivated by the identity-hole left by his great-grandfather, one that David had unsuccessfully tried to fill.

When his results came back he had no time to check them since he was out of town for two months and had recently decided to do his PhD in Sweden and they had to be there in two months. So he gave curious me access to his file. After a week or so of poking around I stumbled across a MacCallum web site devoted to genealogical DNA research. Hundreds of McCallums (McCallan etc) on it were people with only versions of haplotype R. None were versions of our E. We didn’t belong. Then I checked for other sites related to E1b1b1c1a. Low and behold we came from the Levant (near Abraham’s Harran) around 1515 BCE  (+/-650 years).

It was like waking up on a foreign hotel room and not know which way was home. Completely disorienting—for days.  The Levant is not Glasgow.

Fortunately, Klezmer is every bit as appealing as bagpipes.  My grandfather did marry a Glaswegian and so my love of the pipes must come from her.

While on the subject, yes David’s girl friend’s father’s DNA test must have checked out because David and Angella will marry July 27th on the shore where the Atlantic Ocean meets Canada in Newfoundland.

Just kidding about David checking Angella’s father’s DNA test.


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If you are on GEDmatch you can find me at M144207 *MccIan.

23andMe is providing some potential 3rd & 4th cousins with whom I’m following up.


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