Dec 4, 2013

Journey to myself – 23andMe, ancestry results (Part 2)

So, who are we really? Where do we come from? It boggles me how little we know about our past and the history of our ancestors. How short our memories are to the point that we might know absolutely nothing about our great-grandparents. That is at least my case on either side of my family, I do not know who they were and where in Colombia they were from. Finally, today I started figuring out the surprising journey of my ancestors in the book of human evolution!

The results of my DNA sequencing are partially in! At the moment I only have information on my father's line through the Y chromosome, which is inherited only from men to sons; and from my mother's line through the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is inherited only from women to their daughters and sons. I have added links to relevant wikipedia pages where you can read more about things that may be hard to understand.

Y chromosome (paternal line)
On my paternal line, I am haplogroup E1b1b1c1a, which is a subgroup of haplogroup E1b1b1c. Most people who are E1b1b1c can trace their ancestry to the Near East (Iraq, Iran, Palestina, Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey) where it originated around 15000 years ago... that is about 500 generations ago, give or take. Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews carry this haplogroup. However, people carrying this haplogroup are also found in North Africa (Egyptians, Algerians, Tunisians), where it entered in the 7th century AD with the Arab conquest.

E1b1b1c1 is rare in Europe but can be also found among populations bordering the Mediterranean Sea. According to the site around 5% of people in Sicily and Sardinia have it. It is also found at low levels on Corsica. It is also found in low levels in people from Portugal and Galicia, around 4% of the population. And it says in the website it could have gotten there from an early migration from the Near East immediately after the Ice Age or arrived with Sephardic Jews before the Spanish inquisition.

A few months ago I asked my father if he knew anything about the origin of his parents, he said that her mother had relatives who were of Jewish ancestry. According to the legend a group of about ten brothers, the ancestors of my grandmother, arrived at the Caribbean cost of Colombia sometime at the end of the XIX or beginning of the XX century. However, these results are from the Y chromosome, which does not originate from my dad's mother, but on his father side, which is then a bit mysterious.

This image shows the distribution of people with the haplogroup E1b1b1c1. The scale bar and colors are the percentage of people that in that region have that particular haplogroup. So in this case is no more than 20% of the population in any region of the world.

Mitochondrial DNA (maternal line)
In a previous post I had told you, dear reader, that about 90% of Colombian mestizos in certain regions of the country had mitochondrial DNA originating from Native American populations, according to some research, suggesting that some of the first Spanish settlers, mostly men, mated with the only women they could fine: Native American women. My results confirmed this, after sequencing 14% of my mitochondrial DNA I know for certain now that I had an ancestral Native American mother at some point (within the last 500 years), carrying the haplogroup A2.

Haplogroup A2 is common in Asia, Siberia, and the Americas. It originated 50000 years ago somewhere in China perhaps. It is found among 10% of Tibetans and other Chinese ethnic groups like the Dong and Yi people, and about in the same proportions in the Koreas and Japan. This might be why I like ramen and manga so much. About 90% of Eskimos have this haplogroup and this might explain why I felt so at home living in Sweden. It might also explain my extraordinary snowboarding talents.

It is also very widespread in Native American populations all the way from Canada to Perú and Brazil, but it is not found in the southernmost part of the continent, like Argentina or Chile. You find it in Mohawk, Navajos, Aztecs, Incas, and in about 50% of most Colombian Native American groups.

Map for the distribution of people with haplogroup A2. Black means that 100% of the native people in that region have that particular mtDNA.
Ice Maiden, an Inca mummy, also has haplogroup A2.
As I was saying, the results are not yet complete. I look forward to see the results from the other parts of the genome, so that I can check out the percentages of the different ethnic groups I am made from. The funny thing is that I never imagined one day I would create a folder in my computer named “My Genome” to store all my DNA sequences. That makes me happy.

In my next blog-post I will write about the health section of the results, so that you can see the kind of information this technology could give you. I found some extremely unexpected results, such as an absurdly high risk for Coronary Heart Disease. On the good side, I also found that I have a much lower risk of getting Alzheimer’s compared to the average person. It's a very detailed report so I may take a while before my next post.

See you next time!

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