The Y-chromosome haplogroup N-M231 (Hg N) is distributed widely in eastern and central Asia, Siberia, as well as in eastern and northern Europe. Previous studies suggested a counterclockwise prehistoric migration of Hg N from eastern Asia to eastern and northern Europe. However, the root of this Y chromosome lineage and its detailed dispersal pattern across eastern Asia are still unclear. We analyzed haplogroup profiles and phylogeographic patterns of 1,570 Hg N individuals from 20,826 males in 359 populations across Eurasia. We first genotyped 6,371 males from 169 populations in China and Cambodia, and generated data of 360 Hg N individuals, and then combined published data on 1,210 Hg N individuals from Japanese, Southeast Asian, Siberian, European and Central Asian populations. The results showed that the sub-haplogroups of Hg N have a distinct geographical distribution. The highest Y-STR diversity of the ancestral Hg N sub-haplogroups was observed in the southern part of mainland East Asia, and further phylogeographic analyses supports an origin of Hg N in southern China. Combined with previous data, we propose that the early northward dispersal of Hg N started from southern China about 21 thousand years ago (kya), expanding into northern China 12–18 kya, and reaching further north to Siberia about 12–14 kya before a population expansion and westward migration into Central Asia and eastern/northern Europe around 8.0–10.0 kya. This northward migration of Hg N likewise coincides with retreating ice sheets after the Last Glacial Maximum (22–18 kya) in mainland East Asia.
Figure 4. Proposed prehistoric migration routes for Hg N lineage.
(the pattern is correct but the dates are mere hunches, not any sort of objective facts)
Table 3. Y-STRs diversity of Hg N sub-haplogroups.
- N* and N1* remain as such
- “N1a” (M128) is now known as N1c2a
- “N1b” (P43) is now N1c2b
- “N1c” (M46/Tat) is now N1c1
- N1a (new clade, P189)
- N1b (new clade, L732)
- N1c (new clade including all previously named subhaplogroups)
- N1c1 (M46/Tat, former N1c)
- N1c2 (new clade, L666)
- N1c2a (M128, former N1a)
- N1c2b (P43, former N1b)