European Journal of Human Genetics vol:20 issue:4 pages:434-440
The pattern of population genetic variation and allele frequencies within a species are unstable and are changing over time according to different evolutionary factors. For humans, it is possible to combine detailed patrilineal genealogical records with deep Y-chromosome genotyping to disentangle signals of historical population genetic structures due to the exponential increase of genetic genealogical data. To test this approach we studied the temporal pattern of the ‘autochthonous’ micro-geographical genetic structure in the region of Brabant in Belgium and The Netherlands (Northwest-Europe). Genealogical data of 881 individuals from Northwest-Europe were collected, from which 634 family trees showed a residence within Brabant for at least one generation. The Y-chromosome genetic variation of the 634 participants was investigated using 110 Y-SNPs and 38 Y-STRs and linked to particular locations within Brabant on specific time periods based on genealogical records. Significant temporal variation in the Y-chromosome distribution was detected through a north-south gradient in the frequencies distribution of subhaplogroup R1b1b2a1 (R-U106), next to an opposite trend for R1b1b2a2g (R-U152). The gradient on R-U106 faded in time and even became totally invisible during the Industrial revolution in the first half of the 19th century. Therefore, genealogical data for at least 200 years are required to study small-scale ‘autochthonous’ population structure in Western-Europe.