Surnames and Genetics


Heritable surnames contain information about the relatedness of individuals within and between populations, and thus can be used to estimate human inbreeding and population structure. These estimates are affected adversely by the failure of underlying assumptions: many surnames have several founders, and the link between surname and inheritance can be broken by nonpaternity and other factors. Associations between patrilinearly inherited surnames and paternally inherited Y‚Äźchromosome haplotypes are now allowing the histories of names to be investigated using molecular genetic methods.

Keywords: surname; isonymy; nonpaternity; Y chromosome; haplotype


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Further Reading

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Sykes B and Irven C (2000) Surnames and the Y chromosome. American Journal of Human Genetics 66: 1417–1419.

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How to Cite close
Jobling, Mark A(Mar 2008) Surnames and Genetics. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0005963.pub2]