Skip main navigation

New offer! Get 30% off your first 2 months of Unlimited Monthly. Start your subscription for just £29.99 £19.99. New subscribers only. T&Cs apply

Find out more

Genetics and genealogy: Y chromosome inheritance

Genetic genealogy, Y chromosome inheritance
The following video illustrates how the Y chromosome is inherited. John, since he is a male, carries an X and Y chromosome. He has three sons, James, Jordan, and William, who all inherit the Y chromosome from their father. John Senior also has a daughter, Ann, who does not carry the Y chromosome, because females have two X chromosomes. Each of the three sons also have a son who inherit the Y chromosome from their father. These three grandsons of John Senior also each have a son. The Y chromosome has now been passed down three generations from John Senior to his great grandsons, John, David, and Hugh. It may or may not have changed in that time. And we will consider this later.
Finally, going back to John Senior’s daughter, Ann, we see that she married . George. He carries a completely different Y chromosome to Ann’s brothers, and it is this Y chromosome which is inherited by his son. You can see that because the Y chromosome can only be inherited from the father, there is an unbroken line of inheritance through which the Y chromosome passes from father to son, very similar to the way in which surnames are passed on. This principle of the inheritance of the Y chromosome is very important to genealogists, as we will see later. The other important feature connected with the inheritance of the Y chromosome is that it does change or mutate over a period of time.
This makes it particularly useful for genealogists. There are two major types of mutation which can take place, and these will be considered later.

In this video we take a look at aspects of Y-chromosome inheritance, DNA testing on this chromosome and its practical applications for genealogists.

The resources in the ‘See Also’ section below can be consulted for more information on the topic.

This article is from the free online

Genealogy: Researching Your Family Tree

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now