If you want to discover your genetic history and where you came from... you’ve found the right place!


review of scientific and news articles on dna testing and popular genetics

Surprises in English and Irish DNA

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Over a year ago, there appeared one of the few studies of autosomal DNA in Ireland and Britain. If you have English/Welsh, Irish, northern Irish, Highlands Scottish, Lowlands Scottish or Swedish matches, you will want to read this post. Here is the original article and abstract.

Eur J Hum Genet. 2010 Nov;18(11):1248-54. Epub 2010 Jun 23.

Population structure and genome-wide patterns of variation in Ireland and Britain.


Located off the northwestern coast of the European mainland, Britain and Ireland were among the last regions of Europe to be colonized by modern humans after the last glacial maximum. Further, the geographical location of Britain, and in particular of Ireland, is such that the impact of historical migration has been minimal. Genetic diversity studies applying the Y chromosome and mitochondrial systems have indicated reduced diversity and an increased population structure across Britain and Ireland relative to the European mainland. Such characteristics would have implications for genetic mapping studies of complex disease. We set out to further our understanding of the genetic architecture of the region from the perspective of (i) population structure, (ii) linkage disequilibrium (LD), (iii) homozygosity and (iv) haplotype diversity (HD). Analysis was conducted on 3654 individuals from Ireland, Britain (with regional sampling in Scotland), Bulgaria, Portugal, Sweden and the Utah HapMap collection. Our results indicate a subtle but clear genetic structure across Britain and Ireland, although levels of structure were reduced in comparison with average cross-European structure. We observed slightly elevated levels of LD and homozygosity in the Irish population compared with neighbouring European populations. We also report on a cline of HD across Europe with greatest levels in southern populations and lowest levels in Ireland and Scotland. These results are consistent with our understanding of the population history of Europe and promote Ireland and Scotland as relatively homogenous resources for genetic mapping of rare variants.

Though the focus was on genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and linkage disequilibrium, or medical aspects of DNA, this study was groundbreaking in using supercomputing and has enormous implications for the history of the British Isles. It used data from over 3,000 individuals from seven populations:

1. Ireland/Dublin

2. Scotland/Aberdeen

3. Bulgaria

4. Portugal

5. Sweden

6. South/Southeast England

7. Utah

Data came from several sources:  the International Schizophrenia Consortium, Wellcome Trust Cast Control Consortium 1958 Birth Control Data set, Utah European ancestry population (CEU) and HapMap project.

The study aimed to describe, statistically, four measures of the Irish and English populations: 

1. Population structure

2. Linkage disequilibrium, with consequences for the study of common Irish and English genetic disorders

3. ROH, or runs of homozygosity, essentially a reflection of inbreeding and the remoteness of a population

4. Haplotype diversity (based on SNPs in atDNA)

The main conclusion was that Irish/English formed a separate and unique population since the Ice Age very different from either Bulgarian (SE Europe) or Portuguese (SW Europe), with great affinities to Sweden or Scandinavian populations (p. 1250). For instance, "the breakdown and patterning of LD [linkage disequilibrium] ... is virtually indistinguishable among the Irish, Scottish, southern English, Swedish..." (p. 1250).

"Diversity across Britain and Ireland is reduced in comparison with mainland European populations, with Scotland and Ireland having lower levels than southern England (p. 1251)."

The study postulates that Irish and English proneness to genetic disease came about as a result of population stasis or unchanging conditions. The agricultural revolution swept in a lot of additions to the gene pool in most of Europe, including Southeast England, but in areas like Ireland, Scotland and Sweden the same population stayed on the land with little increase, in fact with a negative effect during the Norse migrations of the 10th century and the Irish Potato Famine. The study mentions a "kinship effect" apparent in Irish and Scottish clan histories (p. 1254).

The surprising suggestion is that there will now be a groundswell of research into "Irish" and "Scottish" and "English" diseases comparable to Jewish diseases.

A related study is:

A. Auton, K. Bryc, A. Boyko, K. Lohmueller, J. Novembre, A. Reynolds, A. Indap, M. H. Wright, J. Degenhardt, R. Gutenkunst, K. S. King, M. R. Nelson and C. D. Bustamante, Global distribution of genomic diversity underscores rich complex history of continental human populations, Genome Research, February 2009. Abstract.


Stephanie Hayward commented on 27-May-2011 09:15 AM

I am reading the book "When Scotland was Jewish" and am also doing research on the mythical Milesians. Was wondering if this mythical Irish group had ever come up in your discussions. It is said they were descended from Jewish line and I started making
a connection by what is outlined in your book. By the way, the book is great! Stephanie

Teresa Panther-Yates commented on 08-Jun-2011 03:12 PM

How interesting! The Milesians are thought to be one of the mythical populations that started Ireland. They are thought to be Middle-Eastern and from Spain, but this population is not in the book and has not come up. Thank you for this adding this observation.
Teresa P. Yates

Brian Costello commented on 19-Jul-2012 11:39 PM

I can believe that Scots and English have some genetic relationship to the populations of Sweden and / or Norway. They look basically Germanic. However, the Irish are not a Germanic people at all and therefore must descend from a different gene pool, and
I don't think it is one from Spain either.

Peter O'Connor commented on 26-Jun-2013 12:41 PM

I support Bob Quinn's contention that the Irish and (West British) populations came via the sea - and from North Africa - via Spain.
The language, music, culture art and boat-design support this.

Please tell us what you think

Name, website, and email are optional; if we publish your comment, your name will be shown, and may be linked to your website if provided, but the email you enter will not be published.

Captcha Image

Recent Posts


Altai Turks Middle Eastern DNA Genex Diagnostics single nucleotide polymorphism Stony Creek Baptist Church Waynesboro Pennsylvania Colin Renfrew DNA Forums Washington D.C. HapMap Telltown N. Brent Kennedy Black Irish Valparaiso University genetic determinism Russell Belk NPR Wales Penny Ferguson Tintagel Joseph Jacobs The Nation magazine Dragging Canoe Amy Harmon Nayarit Jone Entine Roma People Tom Martin Scroft Kurgan Culture bar mitzvah Pomponia Graecina Stan Steiner Svante Paabo crypto-Jews Acadians Stone Age haplogroup E Pueblo Indians GlobalFiler National Museum of Natural History Wendy Roth Population genetics Holocaust Database Keros Arabia medicine Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies ISOGG Anacostia Indians DNA databases Elvis Presley DNA Sizemore Indians Science Daily, Genome Biol. Evol., Eran Elhaik, Khazarian Hypothesis, Rhineland Hypothesis Colima powwows Erika Chek Hayden Patagonia 23andme Algonquian Indians Richmond California Micmac Indians cancer human leukocyte testing CODIS markers population isolates Cleopatra Central Band of Cherokees Cornwall IntegenX genetic memory Gunnar Thompson Maui origins of art forensics Bill Tiffee mutation rate myths Isabel Allende Hertfordshire King Arthur occipital bun Melungeon Movement ethnic markers Lebanon Bentley surname research Constantine Rafinesque Kitty Prince of the Bear River Athabaskans Early Jews of England and Wales Italy polydactylism Ripan Malhi Chris Tyler-Smith Douglas Preston Bering Land Bridge haplogroup H Shlomo Sand Fritz Zimmerman Miguel Gonzalez Cismaru El Castillo cave paintings prehistoric art Thuya Harold Goodwin Theodore Steinberg Kate Wong human leukocyte antigens Alabama James Shoemaker Holocaust Ari Plost andrew solomon BATWING pheromones ethnicity Brian Wilkes John Butler Tifaneg seafaring Olmec Timothy Bestor Nikola Tesla anthropology Y chromosome DNA Turkic DNA Yates surname Oxford Nanopore Richard III Louis XVI Abenaki Indians Victor Hugo Phillipe Charlier New Mexico Greeks Abraham Lincoln DNA security European DNA Mary Settegast corn National Geographic Daily News Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Finnish people Arabic Solutreans Hawaii prehistory American Journal of Human Genetics X chromosome Barnard College Anasazi Richard Buckley rock art DNA Fingerprint Test Applied Epistemology Jan Ravenspirit Franz North Carolina Ancestry.com Denisovans Patrick Henry Michael Grant New York Academy of Sciences Carl Zimmer Discover magazine ethics PNAS Donald N. Yates Israel Melungeon Heritage Association Tutankamun DNA Fingerprint Test Roberta Estes clan symbols health and medicine Smithsonian Magazine Iran Israel, Shlomo Sand Sarmatians Monya Baker clinical chemistry linguistics Jesse Montes Early Jews and Muslims of England and Wales (book) Rush Limbaugh Virginia DeMarce breast cancer autosomal DNA Nature Communications Peter Parham Tennessee Maronites Khazars Asiatic Fathers of America Helladic art mental foramen Cherokee DNA Project Neolithic Revolution Britain Basques Zuni Indians Jews and Muslims in British Colonial America Horatio Cushman B'nai Abraham Irish DNA North African DNA Scotland Dienekes Anthropology Blog French DNA Ron Janke Grim Sleeper Charles Perou immunology Cherokee Freedmen Maya Alec Jeffreys District of Columbia Asian DNA Life Technologies Great Goddess John Wilwol New York Review of Books microsatellites haplogroup N Michoacan Elizabeth C. Hirschman Chauvet cave paintings news Harold Sterling Gladwin Middle Ages Ananya Mandal Gypsies First Peoples Stephen Oppenheimer Jewish GenWeb research familial Mediterranean fever Normans cannibalism Bigfoot religion Promega Kari Carpenter Ashkenazi Jews haplogroup B Phyllis Starnes Ancient Giantns Who Ruled America Family Tree DNA hoaxes Belgium Richard Dewhurst Moundbuilders African DNA Discovery Channel Cherokee DNA David Cornish Phoenicians Daily News and Analysis Philippa Langley Kari Schroeder Harry Ostrer Johnny Depp Sinaloa methylation Slovakia Comanche Indians Europe Caucasian climate change Bryan Sykes Jalisco Kennewick Man Choctaw Indians Melanesians Stacy Schiff Beringia Cajuns Lithuania Sinti George Starr-Bresette haplogroup T university of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Cohen Modal Haplotype Romania Majorca England Akhenaten Elzina Grimwood Cismar Gila River Nephilim, Fritz Zimmerman Bryony Jones human migrations ancient DNA Colin Pitchfork Mexico Sonora Current Anthropology Mark Thomas Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute DNA magazine archeology Robinson Crusoe Magdalenian culture Melba Ketchum Anglo-Saxons Bureau of Indian Affairs Bode Technology Jim Bentley Ireland Cave art London India When Scotland Was Jewish Ukraine Germany Rich Crankshaw Bulgaria Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma race Chuetas haplogroup J Cancer Genome Atlas Black Dutch Sasquatch Luca Pagani FBI Native American DNA Test bloviators phenotype Salt River haplogroup Z Riane Eisler personal genomics Science magazine China FOX News hominids Arizona State University Sizemore surname haplogroup C haplogroup R Muslims in American history Genome Sciences Building Hopi Indians BBCNews Taino Indians Nova Scotia haplogroup L Jewish genetics Paleolithic Age Charlotte Harris Reese Panther's Lodge Barack Obama Janet Lewis Crain Eric Wayner Juanita Sims King Arthur, Tintagel, The Earliest Jews and Muslims of England and Wales Irish Central mummies Kentucky Wikipedia admixture Epigraphic Society Daniel Defoe Jewish novelists Henriette Mertz Tucson Y chromosomal haplogroups Phoenix Sam Kean Scientific American Mary Kugler ENFSI aliyah Richard Lewontin Irish history Teresa Panther-Yates Pima Indians Oxford Journal of Evolution Ziesmer, Zizmor oncology megapopulations Marija Gimbutas Columbia University George van der Merwede Sorbs Smithsonian Institution Texas A&M University genomics labs history of science Anne Marie Fine Leicester Melungeons Plato Zionism consanguinity AP Neanderthals Rafael Falk giants epigenetics Elizabeth DeLand Jack Goins Sir Joshua Reynolds Melungeon Union Etruscans French Canadians Secret History of the Cherokee Indians Indo-Europeans Old Souls in a New World Peter Martyr Egyptians education Mucogee Creeks Austro-Hungary far from the tree Rutgers University Celts peopling of the Americas Henry VII FDA Arizona Clovis haplogroup X private allele Austronesian, Filipinos, Australoid Hohokam Russia family history New York Times Les Miserables Lab Corp Pueblo Grande Museum Bradshaw Foundation Hispanic ancestry Virginia genealogy Mother Qualla Nature Genetics Rare Genes Havasupai Indians Marie Cheng National Health Laboratories Hohokam Indians Walter Plecker Henry IV Gregory Mendel Chris Stringer Nadia Abu El-Haj Jewish contribution to world literature Ostenaco horizontal inheritance American history rapid DNA testing Gravettian culture Albert Einstein College of Medicine genetics Jon Entine M. J. Harper mitochondrial DNA EURO DNA Fingerprint Test Michael Schwartz DNA testing companies genealogy evolution Douglas Owsley William Byrd alleles MHC Freemont Indians population genetics INORA surnames palatal tori Puerto Rico University of Leicester Chromosomal Labs Bode Technology haplogroup U statistics DNA Diagnostics Center Navajo Terry Gross Charles Darwin haplogroup M Monica Sanowar Native American DNA Jews Khoisan Sea Peoples Zizmer Panther's Lodge Publishers art history Cooper surname Wendell Paulson