A recent common ancestry for human Y chromosomes

Michael F. Hammer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

292 Scopus citations


He male-specific portion of the Y chromosome is especially useful for studies of human origins. Patterns of nucleotide variation that are neutral with respect to fitness should permit estimates of when and where ancestral Y chromosomes existed1. However, variation on the human Y chromosome has been observed to be greatly reduced relative to the autosomes and the X chromosome2–5. One explanation is that selection for a favourable mutation on the non-recombining portion of the Y chromosome has resulted in the recent fixation of a single Y haplotype5,6. A 2.6-kiIobase fragment encompassing a polymorphic Alu insertion was sequenced from 16 human and four chimpanzee Y chromosomes. Patterns of nucleotide sequence diversity and divergence provide no evidence for a recent, strong selective sweep on the human Y chromosome. The time back to a common ancestral human Y chromosome is estimated to be 188,000 years, with a 95% confidence interval from 51,000 to 411,000 years. These results are consistent with auto-somal and mitochondrial DNA studies that suggest a long-term human effective population size of 10,000 and a sex ratio of 1 (ref. 7). These inferences contradict predictions of the multiregional hypothesis8positing a widespread transformation of Homo erectus populations into Homo sapiens.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)376-378
Number of pages3
Issue number6555
StatePublished - Nov 23 1995

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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