Short Report

European Journal of Human Genetics (2009) 17, 1520–1524; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2009.58; published online 15 April 2009

J1-M267 Y lineage marks climate-driven pre-historical human displacements

Sergio Tofanelli1,14, Gianmarco Ferri2,14, Kazima Bulayeva3, Laura Caciagli1, Valerio Onofri4, Luca Taglioli1, Oleg Bulayev3, Ilaria Boschi5, Milena Alù2, Andrea Berti6, Cesare Rapone6, Giovanni Beduschi2, Donata Luiselli7, Alicia M Cadenas8, Khalid Dafaallah Awadelkarim9,10, Renato Mariani-Costantini10, Nasr Eldin Elwali9, Fabio Verginelli10, Elena Pilli11, Rene J Herrera8, Leonor Gusmão12, Giorgio Paoli1 and Cristian Capelli13

  1. 1Dipartimento di Biologia, Unità di Antropologia, University of Pisa, Pisa, Italy
  2. 2Dipartimento Integrato di Servizi Diagnostici e di Laboratorio e di Medicina Legale, University of Modena e Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
  3. 3Research Group of Human Genetic Adaptation, Vavilov Institute of General Genetics, Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia
  4. 4Dipartimento di Neuroscienze, Sezione di Medicina Legale, Università Politecnica delle Marche, Ancona, Italy
  5. 5Istituto di Medicina Legale, Università Cattolica, Rome, Italy
  6. 6Reparto Carabinieri Investigazioni Scientifiche di Roma, Sezione di Biologia, Rome, Italy
  7. 7Dipartimento di Biologia Sperimentale ed Evoluzionistica, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  8. 8Department of Molecular and Human Genetics, College of Medicine, Florida International University, Miami, FL, USA
  9. 9Department of Molecular Biology and Oncology, Institute of Nuclear Medicine, Molecular Biology and Oncology (INMO), University of Gezira, Wad Medani, Sudan
  10. 10Unit of Molecular Pathology and Genomics, Center for Sciences on the Ageing (CeSI), ‘G D'Annunzio’ University Foundation, Chieti, Italy
  11. 11Laboratori di antropologia, University of Florence, Florence, Italy
  12. 12IPATIMUP, Instituto de Patologia e Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto, Porto, Portugal
  13. 13Department of Zoology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

Correspondence: Dr Sergio Tofanelli, Dipartimento di Biologia, Unità di Antropologia, University of Pisa, Via Ghini 5, Pisa, Italy. Tel: +39 050 2211346; Fax: +39 050 2211475; E-mail:

14Joint authorship: Tofanelli Sergio and Ferri Gianmarco contributed equally to the paper.

Received 1 December 2008; Revised 6 February 2009; Accepted 6 March 2009; Published online 15 April 2009.



The present day distribution of Y chromosomes bearing the haplogroup J1 M267*G variant has been associated with different episodes of human demographic history, the main one being the diffusion of Islam since the Early Middle Ages. To better understand the modes and timing of J1 dispersals, we reconstructed the genealogical relationships among 282 M267*G chromosomes from 29 populations typed at 20 YSTRs and 6 SNPs. Phylogenetic analyses depicted a new genetic background consistent with climate-driven demographic dynamics occurring during two key phases of human pre-history: (1) the spatial expansion of hunter gatherers in response to the end of the late Pleistocene cooling phases and (2) the displacement of groups of foragers/herders following the mid-Holocene rainfall retreats across the Sahara and Arabia. Furthermore, J1 STR motifs previously used to trace Arab or Jewish ancestries were shown unsuitable as diagnostic markers for ethnicity.


Y chromosome, haplogroup J1, human population history, Holocene