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Current "R1b" Results
Jim Cullen

Current R1b Results from the Cullen Family DNA Project

The majority of our Cullens are in haplogroup R1b so let's take a closer look at the subclades of R1b and run the same kinds of tests on our DNA results to see if we can identify subclades for each of the Cullen Family DNA Project members. There is also another Cullen, YSearch ID ZD283, with stated origins in Roscommon, Ireland in the early 1800's. This Cullen is also in Haplogroup R1b. The modal haplotypes for the R1b subclades are gotten from Ken Nordtvedt's website. I do not have all the details on all of the R1b subclades and more are discovered all the time but, I will try and give whatever information is available on them. Subclade determination is based on a Weighted Squared Distance (WSD) comparison. The subclades are genetic groupings based on shared modal values for specific markers, usually the average to fast mutating markers. The subclades reflect branches of the R1b haplogroup that share common mutations and very often common geographical distributions. In fact, geographic distribution is often one method that helps to identify the subclades. Again, red background indicates a very clear association with a known subclade. Magenta or pink indicates a very likely association with a known subclade. Yellow background indicates the next closest match if there are any.

Note that the 37-marker scores in the table below do not include markers DYS607, DYS576, DYS570, CDYa, or CDYb ( from FTDNA's third panel of markers 26-37 ). These markers have very high mutation rates and no modals are to be had at this time. They are very useful for comparison between persons who are suspected to be related but they are not very useful for identifying one's subclade. The Cullen R1b Subclade WSD table is currently as follows:

Please note that the current version of the R1b Table is limited to 25 markers while I reconfigure FTDNA's third panel of markers yet again.

Cullen Members: R1b Subclade Weighted Squared Distance (WSD)
Markers -->12373712121237371212252525
Irish Type36.5425.0429.0685.124.1882.6723.0528.8319.550.5432.7718.3122.58

There are some basic identifying features of haplotypes belonging to the R1b haplogroup that one can look for in Y-DNA STR test results. If you only have the 12 marker results then look for a 12,12 combination at DYS426,388 along with a 14,13 combination at DYS19,392. The R1a haplogroup will have the same 12,12 combination at DYS426,388 but will have something more along the lines of 15,11 at DYS19,392. At the 25 marker level, R1a and R1b share a 9,10,11,11 modal combination at DYS459a,b,455,454 but R1b can be distinguished by high repeat values of 15,15,17,17 at DYS464a,b,c,d. R1a will have 12,15,15,16 at these same markers. In the 37 marker range R1a and R1b share a 19,23 combination at YCAIIa,b but DYS442,438 can be used to tell the two apart. R1b will have a 12,12 combination at these markers and R1a will have 12,11.

Cullen C-7 is fortunate in that his 12-marker Y-DNA values are exactly that of the known modal haplotype of Niall of the Nine Hostages. He does however also match exactly the Northern Irish modal haplotype. His next closest match is a three-step mutation away. Cullen C-4 is also fortunate to have an exact 12-marker match to a known R1b subclade, namely R1b-NS2. His DYS389i,ii combination of 14,30 alone stands out as a clear indicator. This is one subclade however that I have no information on at present. Cullen C-8 is very tough to match as he has some unusual values; particularly his DYS385a,b combination of 12,15 and his DYS426 value of 13. However, he does have exact 12-marker matches at YSearch though he was not, until recently, a member of any known R1b subclade. R1b-Ir/Cont has been added to reflect this new subclade. As we inspect subclade possibilities, we begin to see the differences that exist between the DNA results of our Cullen pairs mentioned earlier; Cullens C-1 and C-8, and Cullens C-3 and C-10. They do not have exact matches to any of the known subclades and they do not match each other.

Take note of the WSD values of C-16, C-10, and C-12. As you scan down the WSD values they have for the various R1b subclades, you'll notice that the values are all in the same "ballpark". What this means is that the DNA results of these members are similar or in the same genetic area relative to the R1b subclades. I expect we will begin to see more of this type of similarity as more DNA results come in. I am already working on a better way to show these kinds of relationships intuitively. Assuming that the origins of Cullen septs or families may be quite ancient, we will expect to see some genetic differences in the descendants. Mutations and mutation rates do vary by family but this can be compensated for by observing the values and the mutation rates relative to other Cullen families. In this way, even if mutation rates differ for every group of related Cullens, we may still be able to distinguish them from one another.

C-12 and C-16 are very close to the Atlantic Modal Haplotype but C-16 is closer genetically to the Colla Signature and the Scots varieties than C-12 is. C-13 has quite an unusual haplotype but there are others with his unique STR mutational values. Specifically, his DYS393=14 when most all R1b haplotypes have 13 or 12 repeats. C-13 also has an unusual DYS385a,b combination of 11,11. Most all R1b haplotypes have 11,13 11,14 or 11,15 for this marker combination. His DYS390=23 and DYS391=10, which are both in the minority as far as observed frequencies for these markers. This makes his first six markers quite an unusual sequence of 14-23-14-10-11-11. His closest genetic matches seem to be found in northern areas of Ireland, in Scotland, England, and just a few in France and Germany. The names tend to be Anglo-Norman and may indicate an ancestry related to this group. It shouldn't be very hard to recognize any Cullen related to C-13 who may test in the future.

Subclade designation can be difficult with only 12-marker results to work with - for any haplogroup - even more so with results indicating a subclade of R1b. This automatic WSD method is convenient but you have to understand some of the built-in uncertainties. First is that all subclades do not have modal values for all the markers and, for the automatic calculation, this is considered to be an exact match for that particular marker, regardless of the actual value one has in their DNA result. If we had an R1b subclade, say R1b-X, that had absolutely NO modal values for any markers... then everyone would match that subclade EXACTLY. R1b-East2 and R1b-NE are two subclades that are currently severely lacking in modal values, which causes a calculational bias towards them. Comparison by hand is still very important. The WSD comparison method I use has the squaring of genetic distance as part of the calculation such that small changes in the overall genetic distance can cause wild swings in figures you see in the result columns. This is especially true for 12-marker comparisons. The 25 and 37-marker comparisons are better behaved since this effect is "averaged out" with a larger number of markers. For these reasons, comparisons by hand are still necessary for a proper subclade designation.

During the process of verifying subclade designations for Cullens C-1 and C-8 I noticed a peculiarity. Both have DYS426 values of 13 while all the R1b subclade modal values for the same marker are 12 repeats. Cullen C-8 also has an unusual DYS385a,b combination of 12,15; something not found in any known R1b subclade. I deliberately changed both their DYS426 values to 12 and noted that both matched their R1b subclade much more closely. The only difference was that both of them, along with their exact matches found at YSearch, now were converted to being members of the R1b-S-Ir subclade ( South Irish variety of R1b ). In other words, if DYS426 was 12 repeats, then the R1b-S-Ir subclade would be the closest related subclade genetically if mutation rate is taken into consideration for the individual markers.

With no known modal haplotypes within R1b to work with if DYS426 was allowed to be the observed value of 13 repeats, the other option was that both were members of a new, previously unknown R1b subclade that exhibits the rare mutation of DYS426 to 13 repeats. DYS426 is one of the slowest mutating markers and has changed few times in man's DNA history. Others in the databases with DYS426=13 also tended to have the DYS385a,b=12,15 and a high value of 18 for DYS464d=18. The modal values were unique and I suspected a separate R1b subclade that had it's geographic distribution in Southern Ireland and also scattered around the continental areas. This suspicion was presented to Ken Nordtvedt for analysis and his response was that this was indeed a new R1b Irish variety. He was able to identify further modal values: DYS464=15,15,16,18; DYS463=21; DYS461=13; H4=11; and 444=13 repeats. Congratulations to Cullens C-1 and C-8 for their distinction of being the first to be identified as members of this previously unknown R1b subclade! Both of their scores are now recorded in the above tables.

Ken has called this new fourth Irish variety R1b-Ir/Cont because the pedigrees that are showing up as matches are from the southern areas of Ireland and the Continent. The new variety has been added to the spreadsheet of modal haplotypes for R1b varieties at Ken Nordtvedt's webpage. So finally our stray Cullens have a home with the new Irish variety of R1b. Discussion is ongoing as to what the new variety is telling us but it is sure to be important since it is the only R1b subclade that has such a peculiar value for DYS426, an extremely slow mutating marker.

The Cullen R1b WSD Table has been updated to reflect more information concerning the markers for the R1b-Ir/Cont variety. I've also updated the 'Colla Uais' signature to 37 markers which affected current results only slightly. Five markers are dropped when calculating WSD for our Cullen members. In FTDNA order, markers in the third panel ( 26-37 ), from DYS607 to CDYb have been removed. The reason is that, since their mutation rates are extremely fast and their modal values are not likely to be determined any time soon, they are left out of the calculation to prevent spurious calculation results. These five fast markers are better suited for large family projects where resolution needs to be high enough to be able to distinguish family lines that may have separated only a few generations ago.

Recently, several new 'R1b' subclades have been added to Ken Nordtvedt's spreadsheets. The new additions are varieties of the R1b-Frisian and R1b-Ag. The new additions do not affect the results of any of our members and the Frisian varieties are currently poorly defined - so no further updates to this page are necessary at this time.

Document in progress...

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