By comparing the DNA of 150 pairs of men who share British surnames, researchers have shown that about a quarter of pairs are linked genetically.
The link is via the Y chromosome--the part of our genetic material that confers maleness and is passed, like many surnames, from father to son. A simple correspondence between name and Y chromosome could in principle connect all men sharing a surname into one large family tree. However, in reality the link may be weak for a number of reasons--for example, the existence of multiple independent founders for many names, adoptions, name changes, and non-paternities. Nonetheless, previous research had suggested a genetic link for some particular names.
The new study, from Turi King, Stéphane Ballereau, and Mark Jobling from the University of Leicester and Kevin Schürer from the University of Essex, examines the issue more generally by analyzing many names and recruiting pairs randomly from the population. Pairs sharing surnames are on average much more likely to share Y chromosomes than pairs with different names, and the link becomes stronger as names become rarer. For example, there is no link for Smith, Jones, and Taylor, but a clear link for Attenborough, Widdowson, and Grewcock. Linked men share a common ancestor from less than 20 generations ago (about 1300 AD), when surnames were founded. The research has important implications for genealogists wishing to connect branches of their family trees, and also in forensic science, since it suggests that, given large databases of names and Y chromosome profiles, surname prediction from DNA alone may be feasible.
Heidi Hardman | EurekAlert!
When fat cells change their colour
28.10.2016 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau
Aquaculture: Clear Water Thanks to Cork
28.10.2016 | Technologie Lizenz-Büro (TLB) der Baden-Württembergischen Hochschulen GmbH
Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.
So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...
Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.
This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...
Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion
Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...
Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.
"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...
In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.
A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...
14.10.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
12.10.2016 | Event News
28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering
28.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy
28.10.2016 | Life Sciences