Catalan Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

by Kevin Alan Brook

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The "Iberian Peninsula DNA Project" administered by Angel Cervantes invites the participation of Catalan people who have had their Y-DNA and/or mtDNA tested by Family Tree DNA.
The "Catalunya/Catalonia DNA Project" co-administered by Joseph Falguera and Jordi Torruella welcomes people whose paternal or maternal lines trace back to Catalonia and/or who carry Catalan surnames.

The Catalan people live in the region called Catalonia (Catalunya) in eastern Spain as well as in the neighboring country of Andorra. Some also live in the region of southern France that's called the Pays Catalan. Their traditional religion is Roman Catholicism.

The Catalan language is a member of the Romance language family and most closely related to Provençal (Occitan) which is spoken in southern France.

Being Western Europeans, it is no surprise that the most common Y-DNA haplogroup among Catalans is a branch of the R1b haplogroup. R1b1b2a1 is nearly exclusive to western Europe, and the sub-haplogroup R1b1b2a1a2c is common among Catalans and Gascons.

The Y-DNA haplogroup I2a1a (I-L158), of southeastern European origin, is less commonly found in Catalonia, at the frequencies of 8.1% in Baixa Cerdanya, 8% in Val d'Aran, and only 2.9% in Alt Urgell, however not all these sampled people can be expected to be ethnic Catalans.

In the Catalunya/Catalonia DNA Project, one man whose paternal line traces to Vacarisses, Catalonia has the Y-DNA haplogroup I-A5721, while a man with a paternal line from Sencelles, Mallorca belongs to E-FGC11458, and another Mallorcan paternal line belongs to R-Z49. Mallorca is a predominantly Catalan-speaking island.

A member of the Catalunya/Catalonia DNA Project whose maternal line traces to Artà, Mallorca has the mtDNA haplogroup J1c2.

Major studies of Catalans

M. E. Hurles, R. Veitia, E. Arroyo, M. Armenteros, Jaume Bertranpetit, A. Pérez-Lezaun, E. Bosch, M. Shlumukova, et al. "Recent male-mediated gene flow over a linguistic barrier in Iberia, suggested by analysis of a Y-chromosomal DNA polymorphism." American Journal of Human Genetics 65:5 (1999): pages 1437-1448.
      Hurles's team's male samples included 32 Catalans. 7 of them, 22 percent overall, carried the Y-DNA marker within the haplogroup R1b family that later got called M167 and SRY2627. Another way of saying it is that these Catalans belong to haplogroup R-M167.

E. Bosch, Francesc Calafell, David Comas, P. J. Oefner, P. A. Underhill, and Jaume Bertranpetit. "High-resolution analysis of human Y-chromosome variation shows a sharp discontinuity and limited gene flow between northwestern Africa and the Iberian Peninsula." American Journal of Human Genetics 68:4 (2001): pages 1019-1029.
      These researchers found the haplogroup R1b's subdivision marker M167 (called H103 by them) in 5 Catalan people they tested.

Neus Solé-Morata, Jaume Bertranpetit, David Comas, and Francesc Calafell. "Y-chromosome diversity in Catalan surname samples: insights into surname origin and frequency." European Journal of Human Genetics 23 (2015): pages 1549-1557. First published online on February 18, 2015.
      The researchers investigated the Y chromosome pathways of bearers of 50 Catalan surnames. The relevant fact presented for the purpose of understanding the genetic makeup of the Catalan people is that some Catalans with surnames with Arabic etymologies have extra North African ancestry compared to other Catalans.

Susan M. Adams, Elena Bosch, Patricia L. Balaresque, Stéphane J. Ballereau, Andrew C. Lee, Eduardo Arroyo, Ana M. López-Parra, Mercedes Aler, Marina S. Gisbert Grifo, Maria Brion, Angel Carracedo, João Lavinha, Begoña Martínez-Jarreta, Lluís Quintana-Murci, Antònia Picornell, Misericordia Ramon, Karl Skorecki, Doron M. Behar, Francesc Calafell, and Mark A. Jobling. "The genetic legacy of religious diversity and intolerance: paternal lineages of Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the Iberian Peninsula." American Journal of Human Genetics 83:6 (December 2008): pages 725-736.
      Among the Iberian people they sampled were 80 males from Catalonia as a region, not separating out ethnic Catalans and Catalan-speakers from non-Catalans. R1b3* was found to be their most prevalent Y-chromosomal haplogroup, with R1* second most prevalent, followed (in no particular order) by J2, G, E3b3, R1b3d, and a few more. On the Iberian peninsula as a whole, Catalonia is the region with the highest level of the Y-DNA haplogroup R-M167.

A. M. López-Parra, Leonor Gusmão, L. Tavares, C. Baeza, António Amorim, M. S. Mesa, M. J. Prata, and E. Arroyo-Pardo. "In search of the pre- and post-neolithic genetic substrates in Iberia: evidence from Y-chromosome in Pyrenean populations." Annals of Human Genetics 73:1 (2009): pages 42-53.
      Haplogroup R-M167 is found at its highest level (48%) in the Val d'Aran, Catalonia. This pertains to Catalonia as a region.

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