The R-Z18 and Subgroups Haplogroup Project- Background



The Z18 and downstream L257 SNPs have recently been discovered within the haplogroup R-U106. L257 was discovered as part of FT-DNA's Walkthrough The Y (WTY) project and Z18 was discovered by careful examination by Greg R. M. on of a few L257+ and L257- Full-Y results from the 1000Genome project. This Z18 project will investigate Z18 and all downstream SNPs that are currently known and/or will be discovered in the future.

Z18 in Y-Tree

A few of the highlights of the results, e.g. all subgroups discovered, will be presented here. For presentation of the full results, a separate web site will be used, as that gives us far more possibilities of presenting geographic maps, charts of testing results and all sorts of diagrams in general. This web site is at: We expect this web site to be renamed to in the near future.

Have you recently received a message from us ?

And do you want to know what it means ? It means you have in the past ordered a 67 marker DNA test and you have published the results of that test in e.g. a public database or FT-DNA project. We are continuously examining these public results looking for potential Z18 members. And you are one of those. Please read on to find out what that means to you.

The test you have ordered is an introductory test, that you can use to compare your own Y-DNA to people you know or expect to be in the same family (e.g. because they have the same surname) in FT-DNA surname projects. If you don't know such people, or you don't find them in your surname project, you'll have to start looking for matches in e.g. public databases. If you want to do this, you'll need to know the group of people in the big family tree of mankind (the Y-Tree) you belong to; this is called your Haplogroup or Clade. If you don't know your Haplogroup, you'll run a high chance of considering somebody a "close match" who in fact has a common ancestor with you many thousands of years in the past (a false positive). Unfortunately, this happens very often in the part of the Y-Tree we're talking about here. A Haplogroup or Clade is the group of all people who share a specific mutation in their Y-DNA. In the DNA testing world these mutations are called SNP (pronounced "snip"). Every haplogroup has an age, and within your haplogroup all people share a common ancestor with you in the time frame given by that age. So within your haplogroup, you can search for matches with that maximum time guarantee in the back of your head. And the younger the haplogroup, the better matches you are going to find.

The diagram below shows a tiny fragment of the big family tree of mankind (the Y-Tree). Each box is a mutation in the Y-DNA and defines a Haplogroup. All these mutations have a Letter+Number name, like U106. On the basis of your 67 marker profile, FT-DNA has estimated that you belong to the Haplogroup M269. This as such is not too helpful, as, say, 70% of the population of Western Europe (and thus a very significant portion of the North-American population) belongs to that group. In order to refine your knowledge of your position in the Y-Tree, you could order a Deep Clade test. This test will tell you in more detail to which Haplogroup you belong. Not all mutations/Haplogroups in the Y-Tree are covered by the Deep Clade test. New mutations are discovered very quickly and it takes time to adapt the tests. The Deep Clade DOES cover L257, but it does NOT cover Z18. If you are Z18, and by sending you a message we have told you we think you are, you need to order a Z18 test separately whether you have done a Deep Clade test or not. That is, if you are serious about getting a return on your investment in DNA testing. If you test Z18+, you'll be able to find guaranteed matches much easier than by looking in public databases and, above all, you'll be part of an advanced research project that will, without any doubt, tell you much more about your family's background and origin.

If you have read this part until here (congratulations, btw) and you still have questions, don't hesitate to ask (email addresses on the top of this page). If you want to test Z18, see the ordering instructions in the section "Ordering a Z18 SNP test" below. Ordering the test is very simple and will cost you about the price of a book; but THIS book is about YOU !!

Z18 is a SNP and SNPs are for anthropology, right ?

No, wrong. SNPs are at the very heart of genetic genealogy on family level. SNPs define family trees, either the full tree of mankind or the particular tree of your surname family. As only a small subset of SNPs are currently known, STRs ("markers") are currently used for finding the members of a family. If you've read the previous section carefully, you know that this doesn't work. If you use only STRs for selecting matching profiles from databases, you're highly likely to find lots and lots of false positives. In general, SNPs define relationships and STRs suggest relationships.
Z18 as such is 3-4,000 years old. But only about 8-10% of U106+ is currently expected to be Z18+. And depending on your definition of Europe for this purpose, about 20% of male Europeans are U106+. So if you are Z18+ you know that you belong to a well-defined (by the Z18 SNP) subgroup smaller than 2% of the European population. This means, you only have to look at this small subgroup for matches. If you consider that FT-DNA (the largest public testing company by far) has published about 125,000 profiles, then if you are Z18+, about 2% of these profiles or about 2,500 are relevant to you. All the others are not relevant because the common ancestor they share with you is older than the age of Z18 (said 3-4k years). Scientific fact !! With the right software, it's feasable to look at the full set of profiles that are candidate Z18+. BTW, please note that the databases available on the internet contain far less than these 125.000 profiles. If you are using these public databases, you are searching in only a small subset of all available profiles
Within the haplogroup R-Z18 there are a number of firm groups of profiles we call Clusters. These clusters are defined by a very specific pattern of STRs that make them nearly unique within the R-M269 or R-U106 haplogroups. Nearly unique, therefore we specify that if you carry this pattern, there is a specific chance, specified per cluster, that you will test positive for Z18. But in the much smaller R-Z18 haplogroup, it's safe to assume that these patterns uniquely define a group of people. As such, these pattern function as "virtual SNP"s. In general, the age of the Z18 clusters is 1 - 2,000 years. There are a few as yet ungrouped individuals (presumably member of a very small cluster that we've not been able to find yet), but all other candidate Z18's are member of a cluster. This implies that if you are know to be Z18+, you'll only have to look at the list of candidate members of your cluster to get a good idea of the profiles that match yours. This reduces the number of potential matches to 50 - 500. The size of a reasonable spreadsheet.
In those cluster where a reasonable number of people have tested at least 67 markers or other features are present (e.g. Nul425), we've divided the cluster in a number of Groups. Some of these groups are indicated below. Given the similarity of the profiles in these groups, one can assume such a group to be 300 - 500 years old and to consist of about ten, or a few tens of, people. This small group has been defined as a direct result of Z18 and some clustering. So the conclusion is, if you're serious about finding provable matches within a 300 - 500 year time frame, using a SNP like Z18 is absolutely vital. Of course, you are absolutely free to say that this is all nonsense and that you're much better at finding matches in public databases than the advanced profile acquisition, database and matching software we are using. No SNPs needed. Sure !! We wish you lots of success. But keep in mind, ignoring SNPs is the main reason why lots of surname projects are making no progress whatsoever in sorting out their various family branches. There's only one way to do that and that's using SNPs. And using Z18 would be a giant first step for the people named below.

Project Objectives

Aim of the R-Z18 and Subgroups project is to research the Z18 SNP and all SNPs and clusters downstream of it. Z18 is directly downstream of U106 and parallel to Z381, the diagram on the right gives a summary of the relevant portion of the Y-Family Tree of mankind. We expect to identify a number of subgroups in R-Z18 and hope to be able to give the historical background of each of the groups found and at the very least specify a likely geographic origin and, where applicable, a migrational path for each group.

We intend to do this by inviting all people who appear to be member of one of the Z18 groups to join the project and to give us the background (e.g. geographic origin) of their family. By combining all the information we get in geographic maps, family trees, time lines and all sorts of other diagrams will will try to give you as much information on your background as we can. A second objective is to group all members in groups or clusters of up to ten or a few tens of people. For each project member, the other members of his group will be his closest matches in the DNA testing world. If you are Z18+, then this project will be the easiest way of finding your closest matches. Unless, of course, you belong to a close family group with a tight genetic distance and all carrying the same surname, but in reality, only a few people tend to be that lucky, and lots are only in a surname project to find themselves in a single-member family branch or in the "ungrouped" or "other" category. A clear sign, that you have little to expect from the surname project.

The activities of the project will be supported by a discussion forum fully dedicated to Z18 (and all sub-clades like L257). This discussion forum is on the web site and is free to join with no other obligation then to behave in a socially accepted manner. For the reporting of the results, the project will use a dedicated web site in order to be able to use all state-of-the-art presentation techniques (we have serious limitations in this FT-DNA managed environment). This web site can be found at:

We guess you will appreciate, that we will shortly start restricting access to the advanced results presentation (e.g. the maps) on this site to those who have joined this project (click on "Join Request" in the top menu of this page). Access will then only be given by password and IP# to members personally (account/password sharing will be impossible). Every member of the project will then automatically receive a password to enter the site. In addition to the web site, we intend to distribute a periodic newsletter about new discoveries in R-Z18 by email to all members of the project.

If you need any help with your own genetic genealogy research, as a member of this project, you are of course free to ask us any questions about tests and the interpretation of the results. We might in some cases even be able to supply some classical genealogical assistance for questions pertaining to the Netherlands and England. There is one limitation, though. We will NOT investigate your case or look up matches in our database in other words spend any significant time or effort on your personal case BEFORE you have joined this project AND ordered a Z18 test. Before ordering the test, you are of course free to ask advice on your chances of testing positively and we will assist you.

BTW, please don't take the "celtic" and "germanic" designators in the diagram too seriously; both tribes were a mixture of a lot of haplogroups: both P312 and U106 are estimated to be at least 4,000 years old and the name Germanics was invented by Julius Ceasar around 50BC. But there appears to be some truth in the statement that the Celts, as the more Southern and Western European group, had more P312 and the Germanics, the more Northern and Eastern group, counted more U106+.

Project Membership

Membership of this project is absolutely free and there are no further obligations. The project is open to join for everybody who has been tested or assumes to be positive for Z18 or is otherwise interested in the investigation of Z18. In this sense, the SNPs "downstream" of Z18 (L147, L257, L653 and Z15) are considered equivalent to Z18. Those who assume to be Z18+ but are not tested as such, e.g. by belonging to one of the "clusters" within the group, are allowed to join and to see what happens within the project.

People only assuming to be Z18+ are expected to order a Z18 SNP test (costing $29) as their contribution to our investigation within a grace period of two months after joining the project. If you think the cost of a Z18 test would be relatively high, taking into account that close match of yours that already tested Z18+, we would ask you to consider that the total cost of the discovery, investigation and publication (web site) of Z18 and L257 combined have been well over $2,000 in the mean time (including e.g. 2 WTY tests). A $29 test would be about 1% of that amount and we think that to be a very reasonable contribution for an individual, considering the amount of information about your background you are going to receive as a member. People belonging to a close family group are allowed to join and stay after the grace period without further testing, if at least three other members of that family group have already tested Z18+. In all other cases the project administrators will decide.

DYS463=25 or the "Root of all Evil"

When Z18 became available for general testing it turned out that the first positive, a participant in the FT-DNA's WTY Project and all L257+ (who naturally are Z18+) who ordered a 111 marker upgrade, all had DYS463=25. No exception. The DYS463 marker is one of the new 68-111 range and also in the set of markers tested by SMGF; most people don't have it. Especially older tests of the marker by SMGF require care, as lab standards have changed over the years. As a first step in the investigation of Z18, we've asked a number of people with DYS463=25 to consider testing Z18. Most were enthusiastic about the idea of finding their haplogroup and ordered the test. The vast majority of these people turned out to be Z18+ and so did all other people who tested Z18+ and L257+. Some people, MT5Q3-Norton and 6HRPR-Rutledge, tested negative for Z18 as a result of our activities and a few turned out to be in R-Z381 and R-L48, i.e. in other subgroups of R-U106, and thus necessarily negative for Z18.

In october 2012 we carried out a structured analysis of DYS463 in R-U106 in order to give better guidelines for Z18 testing. For this analysis we only used FT-DNA 111 marker testing results and no results of SMGF tests; this implies we didn't find a few profiles that were identified in earlier investigations when we did use SMGF results. We started off by selecting a reasonable set of about 20,000 profiles in the R-U106 and British Isles environment. Of those, about 10% had tested 111 markers and using the highly reliable (>95%) DYS492=13 indicator, we selected 433 profiles that were tested, or could reasonably be assumed to be, U106+. Of these 433 profiles 79 or about 18% had DYS463=25. None of these profiles were either L1+ or U198+, the results of SNP testing were:

Haplogroup Number Notes
R-Z18+ 56
R-Z18- 1
R-Z381+ 1
R-L48+ 13
Untested 8
Total 79

These results could be considered to imply that if one who knows or assumes (DYS492=13) to be U106+, tests 111 markers and finds to be carrying DYS463=25, then his or her chances of testing Z18+ are 56 / (56+13+1+1) = 78.9%, let's say better than 75%. If the profile is known from a previous test to be L48- as well, then the chances of testing Z18+ are 56 / (56+1+1) = 96.5%, let's say better than 95%. A second conclusion might be that, assuming that a random subset of U106+ has tested 111 markers and given that about 18% of U106 profiles had DYS463=25 and that 78% of those profiles tends to be Z18+, it's not unreasonable to assume that about 10% - 14% of U106+ is likely to be Z18+ (78% * 18%).

The following list identifies the people we are aware of who are (assumed) U106+ and having DYS463=25. Please note that the list contains people who were identified in previous investigations, e.g. using SMGF-data, and four (Nr. 1 - 4) are therefore are NOT included in the statistics above. We don't think this has much of an impact on the figures given.

Nr Kit# Y-Search ID Name Origin Haplogroup DYS463 L1 L48 U198 L257 Z18 Cluster Notes
1. 49542 VGMTB Kendall UK R-M269** 25

Not in R-Z18 Project
2. 20935 TRMJY Patterson -- R-M269** 25

3. 85144 3VWTP Thompson England R-U106 25

Presumably L257+; u106
4. 34625 -- Layman ?? Switzerland R-M269** 25

5. 98049 YRFGN Leman Switzerland R-U106 25

6. 34867 PAHAN Leman Switzerland R-U106 25

7. 127701 -- Jones -- R-U106 25

8. 224064 -- Shepherd England R-U106 25

Z381-; u106
9. 226057 -- ? -- R-U106 25

10. 222204 N379J Tye England R-M269** 25

DYS492 ??; cumberlandgap-ydna
11. 85134 EEC3Z Murray Scotland R-M269** 25

12. 185262 -- Balfour Scotland R-M269** 25


The Haplogroups designated with "**" are FT-DNA estimates. R-M269** in general means "member of a haplogroup downstream of R-M269, but unknown which one". By looking at the testing result, in a lot of cases we can make a reasonable guess as to the unknown haplogroup. The ones in the list are near-certain R-U106.

An overview of these profiles with all current test results can be found We expect this web site to be renamed to in the near future.

Joining the Z18 and Subgroups FT-DNA Project

If you have tested positively for Z18 or L257 or if we have sent you a message asking you to considering testing for one of them, we invite you to join our project. In case you receive such a message, it is not necessary to already have tested Z18+ or L257+ to join. This is because we are very serious about these messages and if you receive one, your are very likely to test positively. Futhermore, it's much easier for us to keep track of all the Z18/L257 tests that are currently pending, if all testers are member of our project. Fortunately, joining the project is easy and it's free. And you can join as many FT-DNA projects as you like. If you want to join (steps 1-3 only apply if you are not already logged in):

1. Go to the FT-DNA site you see the text "Welcome to Family Tree DNA"
2. Press the orange "Login" button at the top right corner of the page you get a login screen
3. Login using your kit# and password you see your FT-DNA home page with a horizontal menu at the top of the page
4. Select "Projects" in the top menu by moving the cursor there and click "Join" you see a page with 7 groups of projects; the letters are the first of the project names
5. Click "R(nn)" under "Y Haplogroup Projects" near the bottom (nn is a number) you see a list of projects with a name starting with "R"
6. Select the project called "R-Z18_Subgroups" near the end of the list you see a page called "Join A Group" and subtitle "Join the R-Z18_Subgroups Project"
7. Click the yellow "JOIN" button on the lower right of the page you will arrive at a mysterious page, you can ignore that; you'll have joined

The procedure might end in a peculiar way. In this case, you don't get a direct confirmation but arrive at a strange page with remarks about join requests. You can completely ignore that and trust that after pressing "JOIN" and not getting any very clear error messages, you will have joined our project. Welcome to our Z18 and Subgroups Project.

Ordering a Z18 (or Z19, Z16, Z14, L147.X, Z372, L257, Z15, L325, L653) SNP test

If one doesn't work with the FT-DNA ordering system regularly, it might appear a bit complex at first sight, but in reality it's very simple to order a SNP. This section applies equally well to Z18 or each of the other SNPs downstream; just substitute Z18 in the procedure below with the name of the SNP you want to test (in case of L147, you must use L147.2). A single SNP test you order will cost $29; FT-DNA might charge you an extra $9.50 Transfer Fee to take your sample to the Housten lab if this is your first "advanced order" (this doesn't apply if you've ordered a SNP test or done a Deep Clade test in the past, in other words, you only have to pay the Transfer Fee once per kit):

1. Go to the FT-DNA site you see the text "Welcome to Family Tree DNA"
2. Press the orange "Login" button at the top right corner of the page you get a login screen
3. Login using your kit# and password you see your FT-DNA home page with a horizontal menu at the top of the page
4. Press the orange "Order An Upgrade" button at the top right corner of the page you see a page with the title "Order Additional DNA Tests
5. Press the orange "Order an Advanced Test" button at the bottom center of the page you see your name + "You are Purchasing An Upgrade For Kit X"; X is your Kit-Number
6. At "Test Type:" select "SNP" at "Marker:" type "Z18" and press "Find". you see a short list of SNPs that includes "SNP Z18 $39.00 add"
7. Click "add" on the line for Z18 (or any SNP you're ordering) nothing much will happen but Z18 will have been added to your order
8. Click Next (orange button on the bottom right of your screen) you get a screen where you can enter your payment info
9. Enter payment info and complete order

Officially, a SNP order will take about six weeks with FT-DNA, but in some cases of simple SNP tests like these, you can expect a result after a week or two. Then you'll know if you are officially Z18+ and as such member of a unique group in R-U106.

Ordering a test for an Extra Marker (or DYS464x)

In general, people order a 37, 67 or 111 marker test with FT-DNA and use the results they get. In some cases, e.g. when others have tested more markers than you have, you may want to compare results for markers you haven't tested. One solution is to upgrade to the number of markers the other person has tested, but sometimes it is far more cost-effective to order just the markers that are needed for the comparison. With FT-DNA it is possible to order any marker in the standard 111 marker set individually. The procedure belong describes how to order a test for the marker DYS463 individually.

1. Go to the FT-DNA site you see the text "Welcome to Family Tree DNA"
2. Press the orange "Login" button at the top right corner of the page you get a login screen
3. Login using your kit# and password you see your FT-DNA home page with a horizontal menu at the top of the page
4. Press the orange "Order An Upgrade" button at the top right corner of the page you see a page with the title "Order Additional DNA Tests
5. Press the orange "Order an Advanced Test" button in the center of the page you see your name + "You are Purchasing An Upgrade For Kit X"; X is your Kit-Number
6. At "Test Type:" select "Y-STR" at "Marker:" type "DYS463" and press "Find" you see a short list of STRs that includes "Y-STR DYS463 $7.20 add"
7. Click "add" on the line for DYS463 (or the STR you're ordering) nothing much will happen but the marker will have been added to your order
8. Click Next (orange button on the bottom right of your screen) you get a screen where you can enter your payment info
9. Enter payment info and complete order

Officially, a Y-STR order will take about six weeks with FT-DNA, but in some cases of simple STR tests like these, you can expect a result after a week or two.

Entering Most Distant Known Ancestor (MDKA) information on the FT-DNA web site

The project uses MDKA information to create geographic maps of the origin of all individual members. This is most easily done, if each member enters this information on his/her home page on the FT-DNA site. We will subsequently download this data to the database from which the maps are generated. Entering MDKA information on the FT-DNA home page is very simple, once you know how to do it. We have therefore given the procedure below explicitly. Please keep in mind, we are talking about three pieces of information of the paternal ancestry here: (1) the MDKA himself (name, year of birth); (2) the origin of the MDKA (geographic location) and (3) the country of the MDKA. It's a good idea to first get the information together, then entering it will be done within 5-10 minutes.

1. Go to the FT-DNA site you see the text "Welcome to Family Tree DNA"
2. Press the orange "Login" button at the top right corner of the page you get a login screen
3. Login using your kit# and password you see your FT-DNA home page with a menu on the left
4. Click on "My Account" in the top menu you see a page starting with "myFTDNA - Personal Profile"
5. Click on "Edit Most Distant Ancestors" half-way down the page on the right you see a page starting with "myFTDNA - Genealogy"
6. Enter Direct Paternal Ancestor information: name and year of birth and click "Save" you see a green text "Most Distant Ancestor Saved" at the bottom of the same page
7. Click on the orange button "Update Location" for the Direct Paternal Ancestor on the right you see a page with a world map
8. Click on the button "Edit Location" for the Paternal Location on the left you see a new page that enables you to edit the location
9. Select the way you want to enter the location (by name or by latitude/longitude) you see yet another small window named "Paternal Location Search - Step 2 of 2"
10. Enter the location name or latitude/longitude and click "Next Step" you see a small window on the map with the information used entered
11. Check the information and if correct, click "Save" and if incorrect click"Cancel"

The only steps that might take just a little planning are 9 and 10 (entering origin information). The best way to do this is to enter the city/town name, then a comma and then the country name. If the system understands both, it will lookup the latitude/longitude information, find it and everything will be fine. But it CAN happen, that the system doesn't recognise the name. Common reasons are, that you are entering a historic name that doesn't exist anymore or that the system insists on a certain language be used and you are using another. This may require a little bit of playing to get right (if things get frustrating: entering latitude and longitude always works but is error prone). Just a little tip: west of the city of London the longitude tends to be a NEGATIVE number (or you may find yourself originating from WITHIN the North Sea). We will try to keep the maps in sychronisation with the information that's been entered by the members of our project. Please consider, that we do not get a notification when you enter any new data so this is a best effort endeavour.

Project Budget

The Z18 and Subgroups project maintains a project budget and we invite anybody interested in our investigations to make a contribution to this budget. We intend to use your contribution to do SNP, DYS464x (SNP-like structure in L257) and the odd advanced marker tests (e.g. DYS463) that would otherwise not happen because the owner of the kit:
(1) is not interested in SNP testing (in most cases this means doesn't really understand them);
(2) claims not to be able to pay for his own test;
(3) has already done some testing that consistently turned out negative and we don't want to ask again without offering some help.
(4) or a combination of these factors.
Often, this concerns people who are only moderately interested in genetic genealogy or are maintaining samples of people who have passed away. If there's a general interest in such cases (see the project's objectives), we would like to be able to let the project sponsor them. Another example would be the introduction of new SNPs in the vicinity of Z18; this may require control testing and that's considered to be of general interest as well. And of course, we will honour any purpose that has been defined when a contribution is made (please send an email stating the way you want your money to be spent if you have any special wishes). In general, we will not spend more than a single SNP test's worth ($29/$39) per case/person.

To make a contribution:
- Scroll down to the section "General fund" and click on the yellow "click here";
- On the next page, select "R" on the left and the project name "R-Z18_SUBGROUPS" on the right;
- fill out the other fields as appropriate;
- send us a note by email how you want to funds to be applied.
We intend to report here what contributions we have received and from whom and how the money has been spent. If you make a donation, please specify if you want to make your contribtion anonymously in whole or in part. We prefer to name the contributor, but of course we will honour requests to make an anonymous contribution.

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General Fund