Growing the Y-chromosome tree with the help of citizen science

Tree ImageArabic version: النسخة العربية

Thank you for your interest in this research project. This information page provides an overview of the purpose of the research and details of what participation involves. Your participation in the project will help with the scientific discovery process and the refinement of the human Y chromosome tree.

What is the purpose of this study?

The human Y chromosome is passed from father to son, accumulating subtle changes in its DNA sequence (mutations) along the way. This has been happening throughout human history, and the mutations that have occurred can be used to construct a family tree of Y chromosomes that shows the relationships of male lineages (haplogroups) throughout the world. This tree is useful because it allows us to compare the histories of different human populations and to illuminate the past behaviours of males. We have a particular interest in our current studies in the history of the southwest of England, and the Arabian Peninsula.

In our studies, we have traditionally recruited volunteers from the public and analysed the sequence diversity of their Y chromosomes ourselves. However, many members of the public have turned to direct-to-consumer (DTC) companies (such as FamilyTreeDNA or Full Genomes) that offer Y-chromosome DNA sequencing analysis as a service (BigY, Y Elite 2.1), and thereby generated a large amount of interesting DNA sequence data themselves. Many of these amateur genetic genealogists post their Y data online and often join usergroups to share and interpret data.

For us as genetic researchers, individual DNA sequences are not as informative as many DNA sequences combined and analysed together. We wish to join with members of the public to analyse their Y-DNA sequence data together with data that we and other academic geneticists have generated, to provide new insights into the Y-chromosome tree and human population histories. The academic projects will be greatly enriched by the contributions of DNA sequences by citizen scientists such as yourself.

What does participation involve?

You will make your electronic Y sequence data available to us. Most likely this will be via a usergroup administrator, who will have provided you with a link to this page. You will be asked to complete an online consent form, agreeing that we can store, analyse and use your data. You will be given instructions on how to transfer the data to our FileDrop service ( Your electronic data will be retained anonymously, and may be used in future studies by us.

What kind of data do we want?

Because we need sequence data to make our tree, we are mainly interested in BigY (FamilyTreeDNA), and data from Full Genomes Corp (FGC; Y Elite). If you have such data and also have Y-STR data, it would be great to have the Y-STR data too.

Are there any risks to taking part?

No. This project will not generate any data about you as an individual that you do not already have available as a consequence of your purchase of DNA sequence information. Allowing us to access that data will provide the opportunity for us to make observations about DNA diversity in a wider context. The data will be anonymous.

Will information obtained in the study be confidential?

The information you give us will be strictly confidential. Your electronic data will be referred to only by an ID number, or kit number. If information we gain about your DNA is published in scientific papers it will not be possible for any third party to identify you as the DNA donor. Any information connecting you with the electronic data will be kept secure, and available only to the investigators.

Will I be contacted again about the results?

We will not contact you with details of our analysis your own electronic Y-DNA results. The anonymised data will be analysed and our conclusions about the histories of haplogroups and populations will be published on our webpages and in scientific journals. We will ensure that any scientific papers are published Open Access so that you can freely read about the work to which you have contributed. We will communicate with usergroup administrators so they know when work is going to be published.

Can I withdraw my consent at any time?

You reserve the right to withdraw your consent at any time before or during the study, by emailing us. If you do participate and then change your mind at a later date, the information and data you have provided will be removed from the research study and destroyed.

Thank you for taking part in this study! Please click here to read the online consent form, and transfer your data to us via the File Drop link on the Data Upload page that follows the consent form.

If you are a group administrator providing bulk sequence data, please download this Excel sheet, fill in information about the supplied data, and use the boxes within the form to confirm that you have been given consent for data sharing by participants whose data you supply. Please send the Excel sheet back to us via email



Visit: for more information.

If you have queries about the project generally, please contact Mark Jobling. For specific queries about the Arabian Peninsula project, please contact Yahya Khubrani, and for the Southwest of England project, Jodie Lampert.

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