February 22, 2015

Y chromosomes and Catalan surnames

Some really rich data in the supplements.

European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication 18 February 2015; doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.14

Y-chromosome diversity in Catalan surname samples: insights into surname origin and frequency

Neus Solé-Morata et al.

The biological behavior of the Y chromosome, which is paternally inherited, implies that males sharing the same surname may also share a similar Y chromosome. However, socio-cultural factors, such as polyphyletism, non-paternity, adoption, or matrilineal surname transmission, may prevent the joint transmission of the surname and the Y chromosome. By genotyping 17 Y-STRs and 68 SNPs in ~2500 male samples that each carried one of the 50 selected Catalan surnames, we could determine sets of descendants of a common ancestor, the population of origin of the common ancestor, and the date when such a common ancestor lived. Haplotype diversity was positively correlated with surname frequency, that is, rarer surnames showed the strongest signals of coancestry. Introgression rates of Y chromosomes into a surname by non-paternity, adoption, and transmission of the maternal surname were estimated at 1.5−2.6% per generation, with some local variation. Average ages for the founders of the surnames were estimated at ~500 years, suggesting a delay between the origin of surnames (twelfth and thirteenth centuries) and the systematization of their paternal transmission. We have found that, in general, a foreign etymology for a surname does not often result in a non-indigenous origin of surname founders; however, bearers of some surnames with an Arabic etymology show an excess of North African haplotypes. Finally, we estimate that surname prediction from a Y-chromosome haplotype, which may have interesting forensic applications, has a ~60% sensitivity but a 17% false discovery rate.



mooreisbetter said...

Hallelujah! Finally another study on the Romance areas!

In case any scientist is reading this:

I have always maintained that one could determine the (suite of) Roman (Republican) Y-chromosomes by studying the areas of massive (pre-Empire) settlement of Romans. Including Catalonia.

Few in science have the cross-disciplinary knowledge, so let me break it down:

While early (Republican) Rome (c. 750 - c. 44 BC) was a "diverse" place, it probably was no more "diverse" than any other civilization. Yes, there were Republican Romans of Etruscan, Oscan, and Latin derivation, but by and large, the Romans in Republican times were of course still Central Italian.

Thus, if one wants to determine the composition of Central Italian Y Chromosomes before the influx of immigrants and potentially slaves during the Empire, one must only compare the chromosomes of places that saw substantial EARLY settlement of Romans.

Those places, as far flung as Catalonia and Huesca in modern Spain, as well as certain walled cities throughout Italy (Venosa, etc.) as well as parts of Provence -- well, if these areas have certain Y subclades in common, chances are that is a signal of early Roman settlement.

In other words, because certain areas saw (a) an influx of settlers before Rome itself saw an influx of settlers; and (b) because certain of these areas have been relatively isolated since, they are time capsules for Roman chromosomes.

If certain specific clades exists in all of these locales, the coincidence itself is instructive.

I for one will be looking for Italian chromosomes in the small towns of Catalonia that were settled early by Romans.

I also note that this would also be a good chance to look for Phoenician chromosomes. The capital of Catalonia after all is Barcelona. Once it was so Carthaginian. Barcelona = "the City of the Barca family" Hannibal's last name was Barca...

Here's hoping for some intel on ancient chromosomes. The Romans, after all, cremated their dead.

mooreisbetter said...

Also, can someone who read the paper answer:

What does the code "FOR" mean? There is massive I2-P37.2* there. So much, I wonder if that is the cradle of the Iberian I2 descendants, like M26.

Also, what does the code "LLA" mean? There is a lot of C* there, i.e. Cro-Magnon!

Stoked that there were 38 Catalan I-M26 samples in all.

Alexandros HoMegas said...

Wasn't Barcelona founded by the Punics?

Olalde said...

FOR means Fortuny and LLA means LLach

Daniel Fuentes-Escario said...

Hello, I'm a Catalan interested in genetic genealogy. That is the web with the results for every surname analysed http://cognoms.upf.edu/resultats/

FOR and LLA are the codes for the following catalan surnames;
FOR means Fortuny
LLA means Llach

Daniel Fuentes-Escario said...

This is the link to the project of the Catalan Surnames; http://cognoms.upf.edu/resultats/

The codes FOR and LLA are the codes for the following catalan surnames;

FOR; Fortuny
LLA; Llach

Andrés said...


I don't have access to the paper. Could you please check if my surname (Baldrich) was studied? And if so, would you paste here the relevant comments? Thanks a lot!!

Unknown said...


"FOR" stands for "Fortuny", a surname. The frequency of any particular haplogroup in a surname sample reflects the haplogroup a founder carried, rather than the frequency in the general population.

"LLA" is the "Llach" surname

The plain where Barcelona sits was first occupied in the Neolithic. In the 6th-5th centuries BC, the local Iberians had settlements there, which were conquered first by the Carthaginians and then by the Romans. In the 1st century BC, it was (re)founded by the Romans as a military fort called Iulia Augusta Paterna Faventia Barcino.

batman said...

Cataonia is said to be a derivate of "Gotha-lonia" - after the visigoths that survived the resurrection of imperial Rome during the 6th and 7th century.

Fits with y-dna I2.

castillamarinera said...

It's too bad that I have no access to the original study. I'd like to have a look at the 50 surnames chosen as a sample, since the 25 most common Catalonian surnames (probably more) are exactly the same than in the rest of Spain:


(Census data)

fmgarzam said...

My two cent take, as the odd man out here, my engineer's and outside the box problem-solving approach.
I like to see how last names evolve in a genetic's like way once they become fixated, how the are changing in spelling or shortened. But I like to take human groups' aproach, to find the importance of place in people and their last names. Since I mostly have Iberian ancestry, things sort of become easy. Except when dealing with Portugal. As Garza, originally de la Garza before it was sometimes shortened, is almost a Monterrey's or regional locative, by lack of presence in other places. Garza is very seldom present in Spain, and a Few are in Chile, but they may not originate in de la Garza.
That is why I like this paper very much, it relates place and last name.
And that is very important because that helps in the human group's approach. There were very few Catalans coming to early America.
I do not like genealogy much, but I became interested in its historical, anthropologic and sociological aspects, what lead me to geography. To something that works for most of Monterrey's peculiar founders (our ancestors), which came from a few very restricted regions. Say Leonese Portugal and Spain Duoro/Duero river, Atlantic Andalucia and Basque country and Burgos, and one Genoese here or there, one Dutch here or there. De la Garza, as stated by the son of the founder of our clan came from Lepe near Cádiz, as well as many others. We originate in one Marcos Alonso de la Garza, "from the people of Lepe" (the Inquisition made the either convert or move away) from mid-1500's.
Present here since early 1600's. Many other from that area came, as the people of Lepe and the region were very present at the age of discovery, made up Columbus' crew and partners.
I like to express the importance of place with two examples. One is a 1500's couple coming to America with their four children. Each of the six persons had a different last name. The only common factor was place.
The other is XXIst century. Ramón de Algeciras and Paco de Lucía, both immortal Flamenco players, were brother called in a different way. Nobody knows Ramón and Francisco Sanchez, both born in Algeciras de Cadiz, both children of Lucia "la Portuguesa".
By the way, about the Fortuny is a very important name in art, design, fashion and decoration. Great pre impressionist painter Mariano Fortuny, his son the engineer and designer and fashion designer, and I think his grandson a decorator in the USA, have made their last name an important last name.
Common last names is a useless search, unless related to place, at least in reference, say family oral history.

eurologist said...


Interesting comments.

"... and Paco de Lucía, both immortal Flamenco players, ..."

I know Paco mainly via his work with John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola, and Coryell. So, more free jazz than flamenco. :)