Dutch Genetics: Abstracts and Summaries

by Kevin Alan Brook

Family Tree DNA - Genetic testing service
Family Tree DNA: Genetic Testing Service
There are many Dutch people who have used this service to learn how they're related to other families and ethnic groups, both near and far. The "Netherlands Dual DNA Project" run by Yme Drost and R.H.A. Sanders at Family Tree DNA cordially invites the participation of Dutch people who have had their mtDNA and/or Y-DNA tested by the company.

The Dutch people live in the northwestern European country called the Netherlands. Traditionally Protestant by religion, they differ from the traditionally Catholic Dutch-speaking Flemings of the Flanders region of Belgium, a neighboring country. From 1815 until 1830, however, both countries were part of a United Kingdom of the Netherlands, and until 1581 the lands were also united.

The Dutch language, with many similarities to English, is part of a linguistic continuum that stretches into northern Germany, as varieties of Low German are distinct from the High German dialects/languages of southern Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Luxembourg.

The Dutch people are linguistically and culturally distinct from the Frisian people who also inhabit the Netherlands. (Many centuries ago, the Frisians had their own independent country.)

The Dutch people themselves are split into multiple autosomal DNA clusters, with a notable difference between North Dutch and South Dutch people. North Dutch people autosomally cluster close to Frisians, English, and Danes, whereas South Dutch and the Flemish autosomally cluster close to Walloons and West Germans. According to Piotr Kapuściński, this is caused by the ancient division between North Sea Germanic (Ingvaeonic) peoples and Wesser-Rhine Germanic (Istvaeonic) peoples, and he notes that North Dutch descend from Frisians, Angles, Saxons, and Norse (all Germanic peoples) whereas South Dutch descend from Celts and Germanic Franks. Therefore, North Dutch and South Dutch don't cluster close to one another on autosomal plots of population averages.

In the Netherlands Dual DNA Project, people with their country of origin specified as the Netherlands have such Y-DNA haplogroups as E1b1b1, F, G, G2a3a1, G2a3b1a, G2a4, I, I1, I2a3, I2b1, J2b2, J2, R1a1a, R1b1a2, R1a1, R1b1a2, R1b1a2a1a1, R1b1a2a1a1a, R1b1a2a1a1b3c, and T1, among others. Identifiably Dutch people in the project have mtDNA haplogroups including H and its subhaplogroups like H3 and H5a, I, I4, J, K, T, U4, U4a2, U4c1, and V.

Overall, studies show that the Dutch people of the Netherlands possess Y-DNA haplogroups in approximately the following frequencies:
E1b1b: 4.5% (ultimately stems from the Middle East)
G2a: 2.5%
I1: 18.5% (their second-most prevalent Y haplogroup)
I2a: 1%
I2b: 6%
J2: 6%
N1c1: 0.5%
Q: 0.5% (common in Siberia and Central Asia)
R1a: 6%
R1b: 53.5% (by far their most prevalent Y haplogroup, and very common throughout Western Europe)
T: 1%

Distributions of mtDNA of the Dutch people of the Netherlands are approximately as follows:
H: 45% of which 13% are in H1+H3
HV0 + V: 8%
I: 2.5%
J: 11%
K: 10%
T: 14%
U: 16% of which 1.5% are in U2, 0% in U3, 6.5% in U4, and 7.5% in U5
W: 2.5%
X2: 0.5%
other haplogroup(s): 0.5%

Major studies of the Dutch

E. Altena, R. Smeding, K. van der Gaag, M. H. D. Larmuseau, R. Decorte, O. Lao, M. Kayser, T. Kraaijenbrink, and P. de Knijff. "The Dutch Y-chromosomal landscape." European Journal of Human Genetics. First published online on September 5, 2019. Forthcoming in print.
       2,085 males from across the Netherlands had their Y chromosomes sampled for this study and they were compared with previous Flemish data from northern Belgium. A table within this study lists the following frequencies for particular Y chromosomes among these 2,085 Dutchmen: 57.79% carry R1b, 4.08% carry R1a, 27.82% carry I-M170, 3.45% carry J lineages of which J2-M172 was found in 2.69%, 2.69% carry G-M201, and 2.64% carry E lineages of which E1b-V13 was found in 1.58%. Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] We found Y-chromosomal evidence for genetic-geographic population substructure, and several Y-haplogroups demonstrating significant clinal frequency distributions in different directions. [...] Moreover, the previously noted absence of genetic-geographic population substructure in the Netherlands based on mitochondrial DNA in contrast to our Y-chromosome results, hints at different population histories for women and men in the Netherlands."

Maarten H. D. Larmuseau, N. Vanderheyden, M. Jacobs, M. Coomans, L. Larno, and R. Decorte. "Micro-geographic distribution of Y-chromosomal variation in the central-western European region Brabant." Forensic Science International: Genetics 5:2 (March 2011): pages 95-99. First published online on October 29-30, 2010.
       The researchers concentrated on the Brabant region that today encompasses three Belgian provinces and a Dutch province called Noord-Brabant (North Brabant). 477 males with deep paternal ancestry in this region were tested for their Y-DNA. Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] In total, eight Y-haplogroups and 32 different subhaplogroups were observed, whereby 70% of all participants belonged to only four subhaplogroups: R1b1b2a1 (R-U106), R1b1b2a2* (R-P312*), R1b1b2a2g (R-U152) and I1* (I-M253*). Significant micro-geographical differentiation within Brabant was detected between the Dutch (Noord-Brabant) vs. the Flemish regions based on the differences in (sub)haplogroup frequencies but not based on Y-STR variation within the main subhaplogroups. A clear gradient was found with higher frequencies of R1b1b2 (R-M269) chromosomes in the northern vs. southern regions, mainly related to a trend in the frequency of R1b1b2a1 (R-U106)."

Brian P. McEvoy, Grant W. Montgomery, Allan F. McRae, Samuli Ripatti, Markus Perola, Tim D. Spector, Lynn Cherkas, Kourosh R. Ahmadi, Dorret Boomsma, Gonneke Willemsen, Jouke Jan Hottenga, Nancy L. Peterson, Patrik K. E. Magnusson, Kirsten Ohm Kyvik, Kaare Christensen, Jaako Kaprio, Kauko Heikkila, Aarno Palotie, Elisabeth Widen, Juha Muilu, Anne-Christine Syvanen, Ulrika Liljedahl, Orla Hardiman, Simon Cronin, Leena Peltonen, Nicholas G. Martin, and Peter M. Visscher. "Geographical structure and differential natural selection amongst North European populations." Genome Research 19 (2009): pages 804-814. First published online on March 5, 2009.
       The entire genome SNP polymorphism was studied in 2099 people with origins in multiple Northern European countries, which was whittled down to 2051 people after further analysis of some of their backgrounds and genetic admixture. The Netherlands was one of those countries and a total of 284 Netherlands people participated. The paper notes that the genetics of the United Kingdom partly overlap with those of the Netherlands.

Maurice P. A. Zeegers, Frans van Poppel, Robert Vlietinck, Liesbeth Spruijt, and Harry Ostrer. "Founder mutations among the Dutch." European Journal of Human Genetics 12 (2004): pages 591-600. Published online on March 10, 2004. Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] Several different classes of founder mutations have been identified among the Dutch. Some mutations occur among people who represent genetic isolates within this country. These include mutations for benign familial cholestasis, diabetes mellitus, type I, infantile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, L-DOPA responsive dystonia, and triphalangeal thumb. Although not related to a specific isolate, other founder mutations were identified only within the Netherlands, including those predisposing for hereditary breast-ovarian cancer, familial hypercholesterolemia, frontotemporal dementia, hereditary paragangliomas, juvenile neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, malignant melanoma, protein C deficiency, and San Filippo disease. Many of these show a regional distribution, suggesting dissemination from a founder. Some mutations that occur among the Dutch are shared with other European populations and others have been transmitted by Dutch émigrés to their descendents in North America and South Africa. [...]"

Abdel Abdellaoui, Jouke-Jan Hottenga,1 Peter de Knijff, Michel G. Nivard, Xiangjun Xiao, Paul Scheet, Andrew Brooks, Erik A. Ehli, Yueshan Hu, Gareth E. Davies, James J. Hudziak, Patrick F. Sullivan, Toos van Beijsterveldt, Gonneke Willemsen, Eco J. de Geus, Brenda W. J. H. Penninx, and Dorret I. Boomsma. "Population structure, migration, and diversifying selection in the Netherlands." European Journal of Human Genetics 21:11 (November 2013): pages 1277-1285. First published online on March 27, 2013.
       This autosomal DNA study found differences between Northern Dutch and Southern Dutch people and between Eastern Dutch and Western Dutch people and also found differences between Dutch in the middle of the country and other Dutch.

Lakshmi Chaitanya, Mannis van Oven, Silke Brauer, Bettina Zimmermann, Gabriela Huber, Catarina Xavier, Walther Parson, Peter de Knijff, and Manfred Kayser. "High-quality mtDNA control region sequences from 680 individuals sampled across the Netherlands to establish a national forensic mtDNA reference database." Forensic Science International Genetics 21 (March 2016): pages 158-167. First published online on December 10, 2015. Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] Here, we determined, under high quality standards, the complete mtDNA control-region sequences of 680 individuals from across the Netherlands sampled at 54 sites, covering the entire country with 10 geographic sub-regions. [...] Haplotype diversity of the entire sample set was very high at 99.63% and, accordingly, the random-match probability was 0.37%. No population substructure within the Netherlands was detected with our dataset. Phylogenetic analyses were performed to determine mtDNA haplogroups. [...]"

Oscar Lao, Eveline Altena, Christian Becker, Silke Brauer, Thirsa Kraaijenbrink, Mannis van Oven, Peter Nürnberg, Peter de Knijff, and Manfred Kayser. "Clinal distribution of human genomic diversity across the Netherlands despite archaeological evidence for genetic discontinuities in Dutch population history." Investigative Genetics 4:9 (2013). Published online on May 20, 2013. Results section:

"We detected a subtle but clearly noticeable genomic population substructure in the Dutch population, allowing differentiation of a north-eastern, central-western, central-northern and a southern group. Furthermore, we observed a statistically significant southeast to northwest cline in the distribution of genomic diversity across the Netherlands, similar to earlier findings from across Europe. Simulation analyses indicate that this genomic gradient could similarly be caused by ancient as well as by the more recent events in Dutch history."

The Genome of the Netherlands Consortium. "Whole-genome sequence variation, population structure and demographic history of the Dutch population." Nature Genetics 46 (2014): pages 818-825. Published electronically on June 29, 2014.
       For this project, 250 pairs of Dutch parents and children had their whole genomes tested. The researchers found "fine-scale structure across" the Netherlands which was created in part by "multiple ancient migrations".

Ross P. Byrne, Wouter van Rheenen, Project MinE ALS GWAS Consortium, Leonard H. van den Berg, Jan H. Veldink, and Russell L. McLaughlin. "Dutch population structure across space, time and GWAS design." Nature Communications 11 (September 11, 2020): article number 4556.

Excerpts from the Abstract:

"[...] Here we apply advanced haplotype sharing methods (ChromoPainter/fineSTRUCTURE) to study fine-grained population genetic structure and demographic change across the Netherlands using genome-wide single nucleotide polymorphism data (1,626 individuals) with associated geography (1,422 individuals). We identify 40 haplotypic clusters exhibiting strong north/south variation and fine-scale differentiation within provinces. Clustering is tied to country-wide ancestry gradients from neighbouring lands and to locally restricted gene flow across major Dutch rivers. North-south structure is temporally stable, with west-east differentiation more transient, potentially influenced by migrations during the middle ages. [...]"

Excerpts from the Results section:

"[...] we investigated possible admixture from outside demographic groups using GLOBETROTTER with 4514 European individuals representing modern proxies for admixing sources. Across the Dutch sample, significant admixture dating to 1088 CE (95% CI 1004-1111 CE) was inferred with the major contributing source best modelled by modern Germans and the minor source best modelled by southern European groups (France, Spain) [...] Notably, a significant admixture event with a major Danish source was inferred between 759 and 1290 CE in the NHFG cluster group (representing Dutch northern seaboard provinces); this period spans a historical period of recorded Danish Viking contact and rule in northern Dutch territories."

  • Family Tree DNA Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd. - This site is an affiliate
  • Ancestry's Netherlands Genealogy and Family History Resources
  • MyHeritage's Netherlands Family History Records Collection

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