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


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