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


Review of Science Writing and News Reports 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


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