Prof Turi King

Professor of Public Engagement

Reader in Genetics and ArchaeologyTuri King

Department of Genetics and Genome Biology, Adrian Building

Tel: +44 (0)116 229 7840

Fax: +44 (0)116 252 3378


  • I am leading 'The King's DNA: whole genome sequencing of Richard III' project, funded by the Wellcome Trust, the Leverhulme Trust and Professor Sir Alec Jeffreys
  • I'm Professor of Public Engagement at the University of Leicester.  Here's a little clip so you can celebrate National DNA Day (April 25) with a strawberry - well, extracting its DNA so you can see DNA for yourself!

I hold a BA Hons from the University of Cambridge, an MSc in Molecular Genetics (Distinction) and a PhD from the University of Leicester.

PhD thesis: The relationship between British surnames and Y-chromosomal haplotypes

  • Winner of School of Biological Sciences PhD Prize 2008
  • Selected as part of the Doctoral Inaugural Lecture series 2008-2009
  • Shortlisted for Promega Young Scientist of the Year 2007



  • Basic genetics, ancient DNA, forensic genetics


  • Genetics for non-geneticists


  • Genetics for non-geneticists, Genetics and Genealogy


Mark Scully, Steve Brown, and Turi King. (2016) Becoming a Viking: DNA testing, genetic ancestry and surplus identity. Special edition of Ethnic and Racial Studies. The Impact of Diasporas: Markers of Identity. 39(2), p162-180. DOI: 10.1080/01419870.2016.1105991
Chiara Batini, Pille Hallast, Daniel Zadik, Pierpaolo Maisano Delser, Andrea Benazzo, Silvia Ghirotto, Eduardo Arroyo, Walter Bodmer, Gianpiero Cavalleri, Peter de Knijff, Berit Myhre Dupuy, Turi E. King, Adolfo López de Munain, Jelena Milasin, Andrea Novelletto, Horolma Pamjav, Antti Sajantila, Asli Tolun, Bruce Winney, Mark A. Jobling (2015) Large-scale recent expansion of European patrilineages shown by population resequencing. Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms8152
Turi E King, Gloria Gonzales Fortes, Patricia Balaresque, Mark G. Thomas, David Balding, Pierpaolo Maisano Delser, Rita Neumann, Walther Parson, Michael Knapp, Susan Walsh, Laure Tonasso, John Holt, Manfred Kayser, Jo Appleby, Peter Forster, David Ekserdjian, Michael Hofreiter & Kevin Schurer (2014) Identification of the remains of King Richard III. Nature Communications 5, Article number 6631, doi:10.1038/ncomms6631.
Hallast P, Batini C, Zadik D, Maisano Delser P, Wetton JH, Arroyo-Pardo E, Cavalleri GL, de Knijff P, Destro Bisol G, Dupuy BM, Eriksen HA, Jorde LB, King TE, Larmuseau MH, López de Munain A, López-Parra AM, Loutradis A, Milasin J, Novelletto A, Pamjav H, Sajantila A, Schempp W, Sears M, Tolun A, Tyler-Smith C, Van Geystelen A, Watkins S, Winney B, Jobling MA. (2014) The Y-Chromosome Tree Bursts into Leaf: 13,000 High-Confidence SNPs Covering the Majority of Known Clades. Mol.Bio.Evol. 2014 Dec 2. pii: msu327.

Jo Appleby, Guy N. Rutty, Sarah V. Hainsworth, Robert C. Woosnam, Bruno Morgan, Alison Brough, Richard W. Earp, Claire Robinson, Turi E. King, Mathew Morris and Richard Buckley (2014) Perimortem trauma in King Richard III: a skeletal analysis. The Lancet, 17 September, 2014, doi: 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60804-7.
Ballantyne KN, Ralf A, Aboukhalid R, Achakzai NM, Anjos MJ, Ayub Q, Balažic J, Ballantyne J, Ballard DJ, Berger B, Bobillo C, Bouabdellah M, Burri H, Capal T, Caratti S, Cárdenas J, Cartault F, Carvalho EF, Carvalho M, Cheng B, Coble MD, Comas D, Corach D, D'Amato ME, Davison S, de Knijff P, De Ungria MC, Decorte R, Dobosz T, Dupuy BM, Elmrghni S, Gliwiński M, Gomes SC, Grol L, Haas C, Hanson E, Henke J, Henke L, Herrera-Rodríguez F, Hill CR, Holmlund G, Honda K, Immel UD, Inokuchi S, Jobling MA, Kaddura M, Kim JS, Kim SH, Kim W, King TE, Klausriegler E, Kling D, Kovačević L, Kovatsi L, Krajewski P, Kravchenko S, Larmuseau MH, Lee EY, Lessig R, Livshits LA, Marjanović D, Minarik M, Mizuno N, Moreira H, Morling N, Mukherjee M, Munier P, Nagaraju J, Neuhuber F, Nie S, Nilasitsataporn P, Nishi T, Oh HH, Olofsson J, Onofri V, Palo JU, Pamjav H, Parson W, Petlach M, Phillips C, Ploski R, Prasad SP, Primorac D, Purnomo GA, Purps J, Rangel-Villalobos H, Rębała K, Rerkamnuaychoke B, Gonzalez DR, Robino C, Roewer L, Rosa A, Sajantila A, Sala A, Salvador JM, Sanz P, Schmitt C, Sharma AK, Silva DA, Shin KJ, Sijen T, Sirker M, Siváková D, Skaro V, Solano-Matamoros C, Souto L, Stenzl V, Sudoyo H, Syndercombe-Court D, Tagliabracci A, Taylor D, Tillmar A, Tsybovsky IS, Tyler-Smith C, van der Gaag KJ, Vanek D, Völgyi A, Ward D, Willemse P, Yap EP, Yong RY, Pajnič IZ, Kayser M.(2014) Toward male individualization with rapidly mutating Y-chromosomal short tandem repeats. Human Mutation, Aug;25(8):1021-32 doi: 10.1002/humu.22599. Epub 2014 Jul 14
Patricia Balaresque, Turi E. King, Emma J. Parkin, Evelyne Heyer, Denise Carvalho-Silva, Thirsa Kraaijenbrink, Peter de Knijff, Chris Tyler-Smith and Mark A. Jobling (2014) Gene conversion violates the stepwise mutation model for microsatellites in Y-chromosomal palindromic repeats. Human Mutation, May;35(5):609-17, doi: 10.1002/humu.22542.
Marc Scully, Turi King and Steve Brown (2013) Remediating Viking Origins: Genetic Code as Archival Memory of the Remote Past. Sociology Volume 47 Issue 5, October 2013.
Gloria G. Fortes, Camilla F. Speller, Michael Hofreiter and Turi E. King (2013)  Phenotypes from ancient DNA: Approaches, insights and prospects. Bioessays Vol. 35 Issue 8, 690-695.
Richard Buckley, Mathew Morris, Jo Appleby, Turi King, Deirdre O'Sullivan and Lin Foxhall (2013)  'The king in the car park': new light on the death and burial of Richard III in the Grey Friars church, Leicester, in 1485. Antiquity Vol. 87 No.336, 519-538.
Winney B, Boumertit A, Day T, Davison D, Echeta C, Evseeva I, Hutnik K, Leslie S, Nicodemus K, Royrvik EC, Tonks S, Yang X, Cheshire J, Longley P, Mateos P, Groom A, Relton C, Bishop DT, Black K, Northwood E, Parkinson L, Frayling TM, Steele A, Sampson JR, King T, Dixon R, Middleton D, Jennings B, Bowden R, Donnelly P, Bodmer W.(2011)  People of the British Isles: preliminary analysis of genotypes and surnames in a UK-control population. Eur J Hum Gen, Aug 10, 1-8.

Patricia Balaresque, Georgina R. Bowden, Susan M. Adams, Ho-Yee Leung, Turi E. King, Zoë H. Rosser, Jane Goodwin, Jean-Paul Moisan, Christelle Richard, Ann Millward, Andrew G. Demaine, Guido Barbujani, Carlo Previderè, Ian J. Wilson, Chris Tyler-Smith, Mark A. Jobling (2010)  A predominantly Neolithic origin for European paternal lineages. PLoS Biol. 8, e1000285. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1000285. Article available as Open Access

King, T.E. and Jobling, M.A. (2009)  What’s in a name? - Y chromosomes, surnames, and the genetic genealogy revolution. Trends Genet. 25, 351-360.Authors' revised version of this article available here, published version here.
King, T.E. and Jobling, M.A. (2009)  Founders, drift and infidelity: the relationship between Y chromosome diversity and patrilineal surnames. Mol. Biol. Evol. 26, 1093-1102. Article available as Open Access.
King, T.E., Parkin, EJ., Swinfield, G., Cruciani, F., Scozzari, R., Rosa, A., Lim, S., Xue, Y., Tyler-Smith, C., and Jobling, M.A. (2007)  Africans in Yorkshire? - the deepest-rooting clade of the Y phylogeny within an English genealogy. Article available as Open Access from journal website.Eur. J. Hum. Genet. 15, 288-293.
King, T.E., Bowden, G.R., Balaresque, P., Adams, S.M., Shanks, M.E. and Jobling, M.A. (2007) Thomas Jefferson's Y chromosome belongs to a rare European lineage. Am. J. Phys. Anthropol. 132, 584-589.
Bowden, G.R., Balaresque, P., King, T.E., Hansen, Z., Lee, A.C., Pergl-Wilson, G., Hurley, E., Roberts, S.J., Waite, P., Jesch, J., Jones, A.L., Thomas, M.G., Harding, S.E. and Jobling, M.A. (2007)  Excavating past population structures by surname-based sampling: the genetic legacy of the Vikings in northwest England. Mol. Biol. Evol. doi: 10.1093/molbev/msm255. Article available as Open Access.
King, T.E., Ballereau, S.J., Schurer, K. and Jobling, M.A. (2006)  Genetic signatures of coancestry within surnames. Curr. Biol. 16, 384-388. You can download the final pre-publication version of the article here, and obtain the published pdf from the Current Biology website.
Adams, S.M., King, T.E., Bosch, E., and Jobling M.A. (2006) The case of the unreliable SNP: recurrent back-mutation of Y-chromosomal marker P25 through gene conversion. Forensic Sci. Int. 159, 14-20
King, T.E., Bosch, E., Adams, S. Parkin, E.J., Rosser, Z.H., Jobling, M.A. (2005) Inadvertent diagnosis of male infertility through genealogical DNA testing. J. Med. Genet. 42, 366-368. Article available as Open Access from journal website.
Jobling, M.A. and King, T.E. (2003) The distribution of Y-chromosomal haplotypes: forensic implications. Progress in Forensic Genetics 10, 70-72.
The Y Chromosome Consortium (2002)  A nomenclature system for the tree of human Y-chromosomal binary haplogroups. Genome Res. 12, 339-348.
Pandya, A., King, T.E., Santos, F.R., Taylor, P.G., Thangaraj, K., Singh, L., Jobling, M.A. and Tyler-Smith, C. (1998) A polymorphic human Y-chromosomal G to A transition found in India. Indian Journal of Human Genetics 4, 52-61.


Surnames, DNA and Family HistorySurnamesDNAandFamHistcover
George Redmonds, Turi King and David Hey. Oxford University Press. September, 2011.  Selected by Michael Wood as his “History Book of the Year” for BBC History magazine, Christmas edition, 2011. 2nd edition (Paperback) published in 2015.
Viking DNA: The Wirral and West Lancashire Project Viking DNA
Stephen Harding,Mark Jobling and Turi King. Countyvise and Nottingham University Press. 2010.

Book chapters

Turi King (2014). What can Genetics Tell us about Vikings in the Wirral and West Lancashire? in In Search of Vikings: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Scandinavian Heritage of North-West England. S.Harding, D. Griffiths and E. Royles (eds.) Taylor & Francis.


I started off in Archaeology while attending the University of British Columbia in Canada and took time out of my studies to go work on archaeological sites in Canada, Greece and England. I then decided I'd better actually get a degree and while studying biological anthropology at the University of Cambridge, I became interested in how the discipline of genetics can be married with those of archaeology, anthropology and history. When I finished my undergraduate degree my interest in interdisciplinary research took me on to the University of Leicester on a scholarship to study for a Masters degree in molecular genetics and where I carried out my research project characterizing two Y chromosome polymorphisms, gaining a first with distinction. I was hooked!

I am fascinated by the relationship between Y chromosome types and paternally inherited surnames. While my doctoral research (Wellcome Trust Prize Studentship, 2000-2007 part time) examined the link between surname and Y chromosome type in Britain, my current research explores this relationship further and how it can find an application in the fields of genealogy, forensics, population history.

I am interested in furthering interdisciplinary research combining the field of genetics with history, archaeology, anthropology, forensics and epidemiology:

  • Using other genetic markers (such as mitochondrial and autosomal DNA), in combination with the Y chromosome, to elucidate past migration and population structure
  • The social impact of genetic genealogy testing and how the results of these tests can affect a person's perception of their identity
  • Exploring the potential differences between differing classes of surnames in Britain and the link between Y chromosome type and paternally inherited surnames in other parts of the world

Past projects

The relationship between British surnames and Y-chromosomal haplotypes. You can find out more information about the project online.

The genetic legacy of the Vikings in the Wirral and West Lancashire: This was a small pilot project testing the use of surname-based sampling as a way to examine the genetic legacy of the Vikings in this area of England.
Bowden, G.R., Balaresque, P., King, T.E., Hansen, Z., Lee, A.C., Pergl-Wilson, G., Hurley, E., Roberts, S.J., Waite, P., Jesch, J., Jones, A.L., Thomas, M.G., Harding, S.E. and Jobling, M.A. (2008) Mol. Biol. Evol. 25(2) 301-309. Excavating past population structures by surname-based sampling: the genetic legacy of the Vikings in northwest England.
One day a week, I worked as a Research Fellow working on The genetic legacy of the Vikings in the North of England project as part of the The Impact of Diasporas on the Making of Britain.


The Social Impact of DNA testing: This is a sociology study being carried out by Wendy Roth at the University of British Columbia about how getting information about your ancestry from genetic tests may affect your identity, attitudes, or activities. It consists of an online survey that should take about 10-15 minutes to complete. If you would like to participate, click here.
People of the British Isles project


I am passionate about communicating science to the public. I have advised/contributed/appeared in a number of television and radio series including:

  • Michael Wood's Great British Story and The Story of England
  • Who Do You Think You Are?
  • Vikings
  • Gatwick Baby: Abandoned at Birth
  • Material World
Documentaries for:
  • Discovery Channel
  • Global Television
  • Channel 4
Interviews for television:
  • BBC national and local stations
  • Sky
  • ITV
  • CNN
  • Global)
  • BBC Radio 4
  • BBC Radio 5 live
  • BBC World Service
  • BBC Radio Leicester
and general press about my work on the link between surnames and genetics as well as genetic ancestry testing.
I appeared in two documentaries as part of the Richard II project:
  • The King in the Car Park
  • Richard III: the Unseen Story
I regularly give public lectures including talks to school children and family history groups and speak at Who Do You Think You Are? Live each year.
I contributed to:
  • The Wellcome Trust exhibition "Who Am I?" in 2009
  • The DNA exhibition at New Walk Museum in Leicester in 2013
  • The current Vikings: Life and Legend exhibition at the British Museum

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