mtDNA haplogroup U4 project

  • 1928 members

About us

Welcome to the mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U4 project! Haplogroup U4 (Ulrike) is a small Indo-European haplogroup that is particularly prevalent in Finland and Russia. It is found at low frequencies throughout Europe, North America and Asia. We have project members living in the following countries: Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Macedonia, The Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, United Arab Emirates, Virgin Islands, West Indies, USA. U4 is divided into four main subclades: U4a, U4b, U4c and U4d. Each subclade has numerous branches.

Description of haplogroup U4 from Wikipedia
Haplogroup U4 has its origin in the Upper Palaeolithic,dating to approximately 25,000 years ago and has been implicated in the expansion of modern humans into Europe occurring before the Last Glacial Maximum. U4 is an ancient mitochondrial haplogroup and is relatively rare in modern populations. U4 is found in Europe with highest concentrations in Scandinavia and the Baltic states and is found in the Sami population of the Scandinavian peninsula (although, U5b has a higher representation).

U4 is also associated with the remnants of ancient European hunting-gatherers preserved in the indigenous populations of Siberia. U4 is found in Nganasans, the indigenous inhabitants of the Taimyr Peninsula, in the Mansi (16.3%), an endangered people, and in the Ket people (28.9%) of the Yenisey River. U4 is also preserved in the Kalash people (current population size 3,700) a unique tribe among the Indo-Aryan peoples of Pakistan where U4 (subclade U4a1) attains its highest frequency of 34%.

Haplogroup U4 is associated with ancient European hunter-gatherers and has been found in 7,200 to 6,000-year-old remains of the Pitted Ware culture in Gotland, Sweden, and in 4,400 to 3,800-year-old remains from the Damsbo site of the Danish Bell-Beaker culture. Remains identified as subclade U4a2 are associated with the Battle Axe culture which flourished 5,200 to 4,300 years ago in eastern and central Europe and encompassed most of continental northern Europe from the Volga River in the east to the Rhine River in the west. Mitochondrial DNA recovered from 3,500 to 3,300-year-old remains at the Bredtoftegård site in Denmark associated with the Nordic Bronze Age include haplogroup U4 with 16179T in its HVR1 indicative of subclade U4c1. (Source: Wikipedia article on haplogroup U. Reproduced under the Creative Commons Licence.)

Description of Ulrike from Bryan Sykes
The clan of Ulrike (German for Mistress of All) is not among the original "Seven Daughters of Eve" clans, but with just under 2% of Europeans among its members, it has a claim to being included among the numerically important clans. Ulrike lived about 18,000 years ago in the cold refuges of the Ukraine at the northern limits of human habitation. Though Ulrike's descendants are nowhere common, the clan is found today mainly in the east and north of Europe with particularly high concentrations in Scandinavia and the Baltic states. (Source:

The project is open to everyone who has taken a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test with Family Tree DNA, the Genographic Project or one of the FTDNA partners (e.g., IGENEA, DNA Worldwide), and whose results show that they belong to haplogroup U4 or one of its subclades. There is no fee to join the project, and no additional testing is required.

If you have tested with the Genographic Project you will first need to transfer your results to the Family Tree DNA database. For instructions on transferring your results see this page in the FTDNA Learning Center. Geno 1.0 HVR1 results are included on the U4 project's results page. The Geno 2.0 test and the Geno 2.0 NextGen test scan selected SNPs from across the entire mt genome, but do not sequence the entire hypervariable region - the sections that are used for low-resolution genealogical matches. Geno 2.0 results cannot therefore be displayed on the project's results page and cannot be used for genealogical matching purposes. Nevertheless we are still happy to welcome Geno 2.0 testers to the project though we would encourage you to upgrade and order an mtDNA test from FTDNA in order to participate in the matching database.

If you have tested with any other company you will have to retest with Family Tree DNA if you wish to participate in the U4 Project. This blog post explains more about the various mtDNA tests offered by the different testing companies. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy have a chart on their website showing the differences in the mtDNA tests offered by the various companies which can be seen here

Please provide details of your most distant known ancestor on your direct maternal line (your mother, your mother's mother, your mother's mother and so on). Click here to see a chart on the ISOGG website which shows the path of mtDNA transmission. There is also a useful animated video on the Learn Genetics website which can be seen by clicking here.  You can enter the information via the My Account/Most Distant Ancestors menu on your FTDNA personal page. Please provide the full name, year of birth and location of your most distant known ancestor on your direct maternal line. As we are an international project with members from many different countries please avoid the use of local abbreviations (eg, US state abbreviations, UK Chapman county codes) for clarity. 

If you have taken the full mitochondrial sequence (FMS) test (also known as the mega or full genomic sequence (FGS) test) please consider sharing your coding region results with the project administrators so that we can help you with your results. The coding region results are not shown on the project's results page and will not be made public, and by default they are also hidden from the project administrators. The coding region results allow us to check your subclade assignment against the latest version of the mtDNA tree on Phylotree. We can often provide a more detailed classification than that provided by FTDNA. FTDNA is currently using Build 14 of Phylotree. Some U4 subclades in Build 14 are not yet recognised by FTDNA.  All U4 project results have been updated to conform with the most recent Phylotree build (Build 16).  

To share your coding region results with the project administrators, please log into your FTDNA account, select My Account and click on Results Display Settings. In the section "Show My mtDNA Coding Region Mutations to Administrators of these Projects", make sure that you have indicated "Yes" for the U4 project. For instructions see also the article by Rebekah Canada on Your Privacy and Showing Your mtDNA Coding Region Results.

Instructions for joining the U4 Project in other languages
Currently, we have our "Join Request" in six languages (English, Русский, Deutsch, Français, Español and Italiano). Click here to see these translations.

The privacy of project members is respected at all times.  The U4 administrators strictly adhere to the Family Tree DNA Group Project Administrator Terms and Policies and the ISOGG Project Administrator Guidelines. See also the Family Tree DNA Privacy Policy and Terms of Service and the Learning Center pages on DNA Group Projects. For information on adjusting your FTDNA privacy settings see the article in the FTDNA Learning Centre on Privacy and Sharing.

Geographical projects
We encourage all our project members to join the appropriate geographical project wherever possible. A full list of geographical projects can be found in the ISOGG Wiki. There is no limit on the number of projects you can join at Family Tree DNA, but admission to a project is subject to approval by the project administrators.

We encourage all our members to join (it's free!) the International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG). Further information can be found on the ISOGG website and in the ISOGG Wiki.

Scientific papers of particular relevance to haplogroup U4
Der Sarkissian C, Balanovsky O, Brandt G, Khartanovich V, Buzhilova A, et al. (2013) Ancient DNA Reveals Prehistoric Gene-Flow from Siberia in the Complex Human Population History of North East Europe. PLoS Genetics 9(2): e1003296. (Full article available online.)

Melchior L, Lynnerup N, Siegismund HR, Kivisild T, Dissing J (2010). Genetic Diversity among Ancient Nordic Populations. PLoS ONE 5(7): e11898. (Full article available online.)
Malyarchuk B, Grzybowski T, Derenko M, Perkova M, Vanecek T, Lazur J, Gomolcak P, Tsybovsky I. Mitochondrial DNA phylogeny in Eastern and Western Slavs. Molecular Biology and Evolution 2008 25(8):1651-1658. (Full article available online.)

Soares P, Acchili A, Semino O, Davies W, Macaulay v, Bandelt h, Torroni A, Richards M (2010). The Archaeogenetics of Europe. Current Biology 23 February 2010 (Vol. 20, Issue 4, pp. R174-R183). The authors provide an age estimate of U4 at 20.8 thousand years based on an analysis of the complete mtDNA genome sequences of 956 West Eurasian samples. They state: "It has been argued that several lineages that are most prominent in eastern Europe, in particular within U4, may be the result of expansions from an eastern refuge, perhaps in the Ukraine." (Full article available online)

Samara Rubinstein, Matthew C. Duuk, Omer Gokcumen, Sergey Zhadanov, Ludmila Osipova, Maggie Cocca, Nishi Mehta, Marina Gubina, Olga Posukh, Theodore G Schurr. Russian Old Believers: genetic consequences of their persecution and exile, as shown by mitochondrial DNA evidence (Report). Human Biology June 01, 2008. (Report available online.)

Kristiina Tambets. Dissertationes Biologicae Universitatis Tartuensis. Towards the understanding of post-glacial spread of human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups in Europe and beyond: a phylogeographic approach. Council of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, University of Tartu, Estonia, 2004. (Thesis available online.)

B. A. Malyarchuk. Differentiation of the Mitochondrial Subhaplogroup U4 in the Populations of Eastern Europe, Ural, and Western Siberia: Implication to the Genetic History of the Uralic Populations. Russian Journal of Genetics November 2004, Volume 40, Number 11. (Abstract and preview available online.)

Olga A. Derbeneva, Elena B. Starikovskaya, Douglas C. Wallace, and Rem I. Sukernik. Traces of Early Eurasians in the Mansi of Northwest Siberia Revealed by Mitochondrial DNA Analysis. American Journal of Human Genetics 2002 April; 70(4): 1009–1014. (Full article available online.)

Other scientific papers of interest
Hans-Jürgen Bandelt, Anita Kloss-Brandstätter, Martin B Richards, Yong-Gang Yao and Ian Logan. The case for the continuing use of the revised Cambridge Reference Sequence (rCRS) and the standardization of notation in human mitochondrial DNA studiesJournal of Human Genetics (5 December 2013).
Doron M. Behar, Mannis van Oven, Saharon Rosset et al (2012). A "Copernican" Reassessment of the Human Mitochondrial DNA Tree from its Root. American Journal of Human Genetics, Volume 90, Issue 4, 6 April 2012, pp675–684. A number of U4 sequences from Family Tree DNA customers were used in this paper.

Melchior L, Lynnerup N, Siegismund HR, Kivisild T, Dissing J (2010). Genetic Diversity among Ancient Nordic Populations. PLoS ONE 5(7): e11898. An ancient DNA study which found a U4 sample amongst the Neolithic Bell Beaker people along with a later Bronze age U4 sample.

Helena Malmström, M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Mark G. Thomas et al. Ancient DNA Reveals Lack of Continuity between Neolithic Hunter-Gatherers and Contemporary Scandinavians. Current Biology 2009 9(2): 1758-1762. (Abstract only available online.) A discussion can be found on Dienekes' Anthropology Blog. The article is also discussed on the GenomeWeb website. Eight U4 samples were included in the study.

B. Bramanti, M. G. Thomas, W. Haak et al. Genetic Discontinuity Between Local Hunter-Gatherers and Central Europe’s First Farmers. By (3 September 2009) Science [DOI: 10.1126/science.1176869] (Abstract only available online.) The article is reviewed on Dienekes Anthropology Blog. Dienekes comments: "Pre-farming populations seem to have been dominated by mtDNA haplogroup U". He quotes from the paper: "it is intriguing to note that 82% of our 22 hunter-gatherer individuals carried clade U (fourteen U5, two U4, and two unspecified U-types". The two U4 samples were from Bad Duerrenberg, Germany (c. 6850 BC) and Spiginas, Lithuania (c. 6350 BC). The paper states that "U4 types show frequencies between 1% and 5% in most parts of Europe, with Western Europe at the lower end of this range, and northeastern Europe and central Asia showing percentages in excess of 7%".

A. Achilli, C. Rengo, V. Battaglia et al. Saami and Berbers—An Unexpected Mitochondrial DNA Link. The American Journal of Human Genetics, 2005, Volume 76, Issue 5, Pages 883-886. (Full article available online)

O. A. Derbeneva, E. B. Starikovskaya, N. V. Volodko, D. C. Wallace and R. I. Sukernik. Mitochondrial DNA variation in the Kets and Nganasans and its implications for the initial peopling of Northern Eurasia. Russian Journal of Genetics, Vol. 38, No. 11, 2002, pp.1316–1321. Translated from Genetika, Vol. 38, No. 11, 2002, pp.1554–1560. (Abstract and preview available online.)

The mtDNA Haplogroup U4 Project is an independent genealogical research study run by volunteer administrators. The project receives no funding, and participants are responsible for the costs of their own tests. The project was organised as a co-operative effort among those who wish to explore genetic testing to advance their knowledge of deep and recent family backgrounds.

Member information and data obtained from the Haplogroup U4 Project must be attributed to the project, administrators, and Family Tree DNA. Please notify administrators when using data for public or private research.