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Getting Started with the Haplogroup Reports

The 23andMe Haplogroup reports can shed light on the origins of some of our ancestors and on their migrations over tens of thousands of years. Your Maternal Haplogroup report tells you about your maternal-line ancestors, from your mother through her mother and beyond. If you are male, your Paternal Haplogroup report tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond. Haplogroups are assigned by detecting certain genetic variants unique to each haplogroup.

Select a topic below to learn more about haplogroups:

    • About Haplogroups
    • About the Maternal Haplogroup
    • About the Paternal Haplogroup
    • What the Haplogroup Reports Can Tell You
About Haplogroups

Haplogroup is the term scientists use to describe a group of mitochondrial or Y-chromosome sequences that are more closely related to one another than to other sequences. The term haplogroup is a combination of haplotype and group. In this context, haplotype refers either to the DNA sequence of one's mitochondrial DNA, which is inherited from one's mother, or to the DNA sequence of one's Y chromosome, which is passed from fathers to their sons.

Due to their unusual pattern of inheritance, the mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome contain information about your maternal and paternal lines, respectively. But together, they make up less than 1% of all your DNA, and only represent a small fraction of your ancestry. Everyone can trace their maternal ancestry back to a single woman, but members of a mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroup can trace their maternal ancestry back to a more recent common ancestor, and the same applies to paternal ancestry and the Y chromosome for males.

The Haplogroup reports provides haplogroup assignments which allow you to trace your ancestry from your mother through her mother and beyond and, for men, from your father through his father and beyond.

About the Maternal Haplogroup

A maternal haplogroup is a family of mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) that traces back to a single common ancestor. Geneticists use global haplogroup distributions to trace significant events in human prehistory, such as the migration of people to the Americas or the expansion of agriculture from the Middle East.

The Maternal Haplogroup report is provided to both males and females. This haplogroup assignment is based on your mitochondrial DNA, which you inherited from your mother, who inherited it from her mother, who inherited it from her mother, and so on. Both males and females inherited their mitochondrial DNA, and therefore their maternal haplogroup, from their mother.

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About the Paternal Haplogroup

Paternal haplogroups are families of Y chromosomes that are defined by specific sets of shared mutations. Geneticists can use patterns of Y-chromosome variation to trace significant events in human prehistory, such as the migration of people to the Americas or the expansion of agriculture from the Middle East.

The Paternal Haplogroup report is available for males*. This haplogroup assignment provides information about your Y-chromosome haplogroup, which we also call paternal haplogroup because it is passed down from fathers to their sons through the generations.

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*Because females do not have Y chromosomes, they do not have paternal haplogroups. Females can connect with a father or brother to learn about their father’s haplogroup. Both males and females can learn about still learn about their recent paternal ancestors in the Ancestry Composition report. Learn more.

What the Haplogroup Reports Can Tell You

Your haplogroup is a clue to your maternal or paternal ancestry. Humans migrated from eastern Africa to inhabit every continent on Earth except Antarctica over tens of thousands of years. The Haplogroup reports show the migration patterns of people with a given haplogroup. Before the age of European exploration ~500 years ago, people rarely moved between continents, so the report shows where people with a particular haplogroup lived for thousands of years.

As humans spread out geographically, they also diversified genetically. Your maternal haplogroup is assigned by identifying a set of variants in your mitochondrial DNA. If you are male, your paternal haplogroup is assigned by identifying a set of variants in your Y-chromosome DNA as well. When a variant arises in an individual and is passed down through the paternal or maternal lines, it will be present in living descendants. So by looking at the pattern of variants in present-day populations, geneticists can trace human genetic and migration history.

A haplogroup is a family of maternal or paternal lineages that descend from a common ancestor. The framework that is used to identify different haplogroups, and how they relate, is called a phylogenetic tree. The phylogenetic tree can be found by clicking on the Scientific Details tab.

View and Print | Women and Paternal Haplogroups | Common Questions

View and Print

The Maternal Haplogroup and Paternal Haplogroup reports are two of the 23andMe Ancestry reports and are located under the Reports tab in the top navigational menu. In the Haplogroups report, you can choose to see your assignment and information about the geographic distribution of your haplogroup using the Summary tab, or you can dive deeper to see how your haplogroups relate to others by viewing the phylogenetic tree located on the Scientific Details tab. Scroll down the page to see any additional information about your haplogroup assignment or the report in general.

You can print the Haplogroup reports using the Print button located in the upper right corner of the page.

 

Women and Paternal Haplogroups

Paternal haplogroups are defined by sets of genetic variants on the Y chromosome. Although women inherit roughly 50% of their DNA from their fathers, they do not inherit Y chromosomes and as a result, do not have paternal haplogroups. However by connecting results with certain male relatives on 23andMe, women can learn about the paternal haplogroup assignments of their fathers.

After connecting results with one of the relatives listed below, your Paternal Haplogroup report will be updated to reflect his results:

  • A biological father
  • A brother (full sibling)

 

Common Questions

I’m a female; why didn’t I receive a paternal haplogroup?

Paternal haplogroups are based on the Y chromosome, which females don't inherit. If you connect with your father or brother via DNA Relatives or Share and Compare, your Paternal Haplogroup report is automatically updated to show their paternal haplogroup. Learn more.

From your own report, you can learn about your recent paternal ancestors in our Ancestry Composition report. Learn more.

 

How can I link a male relatives results to my haplogroup report?

You can connect your male relative’s results to your Paternal Haplogroup report by following the steps below:

  1. Connect with your father or brother (full sibling) using Share and Compare, DNA Relatives, or invite them to share by clicking the “Connect with them now” link in the Paternal Haplogroup report.
  2. Check back. After you have connected with an eligible male relative, your paternal haplogroup report will automatically update to reflect his results.

 

I’m a female; can I learn about my paternal ancestry even though I didn’t receive a paternal haplogroup?

The Paternal Haplogroup report only represents the men of your direct paternal line, from your father, to his father, to his father and beyond. Women can learn about their recent paternal ancestors in our Ancestry Composition report since the Ancestry Composition report uses DNA that people inherit from both parents. Learn more.

Paternal haplogroups are based on the Y chromosome, which is only passed from a father to his sons. Females do not have paternal haplogroups because they do not inherit Y chromosomes. If a woman connects with her father or brother via DNA Relatives or Share and Compare, her Paternal Haplogroup report is automatically updated to show their paternal haplogroup. Learn more.

 

I can't connect to a father or brother [in 23andMe]. Can I connect with a different male-line relative?

At the moment, only a father or a brother can be connected to a female's Paternal Haplogroup report. If you have identified another male relative [who is related to your father along a direct male line], you can ask your relative to share a link to their published paternal haplogroup report.

 

How can I view my relative’s Paternal Haplogroup assignment?

You can view with your male relative’s paternal haplogroup by establishing a sharing connection and comparing results in the Share and Compare tool. By connecting with a father or brother (full sibling), your Paternal Haplogroup report will update to reflect his assignment.

Or, you can ask your relative to share a link to their published paternal haplogroup report.

 

What do the numbers and letters in my haplogroup mean?

Maternal haplogroups are named with sequences of letters and numbers that reflect the structure of the tree and how the branches relate to one another.

Paternal Haplogroups start with one or more letters representing a major group, followed by the name of a representative marker carried by a specific subgroup.

 

Why doesn’t my haplogroup match what I know about my ancestors?

The information in this report does not represent all the ancestors on your mother’s or father’s sides. Rather, your maternal (and paternal) haplogroups tell you about specific lines of ancestry.

Your maternal haplogroup tells you about your maternal-line ancestors, from your mother to her mother and beyond. So your maternal haplogroup helps you trace your ancestry through your mother’s mother but not through your mother’s father. This is because maternal haplogroups are based on mitochondrial DNA, which is passed exclusively from mothers to their offspring, generation after generation.

If you are male, your paternal haplogroup tells you about your paternal-line ancestors, from your father to his father and beyond. So your paternal haplogroup helps you trace your ancestry through your father’s father but not through your father’s mother. This is because paternal haplogroups are based on Y-chromosome DNA, which is passed exclusively from fathers to their sons, generation after generation.

Your family history is unique; the example populations and regions provided in this report may differ from what you know about your ancestors for a variety of reasons. For example, your ancestors may have migrated away from other people with the same haplogroup, or there may be other considerations specific to your family.

 

Additional Resources

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