- •Two efficient computational methods were developed to infer surnames from Y-STR profiles.
- •More than 19,000 men bearing 266 surnames were typed for 17 Y-STR loci to demonstrate the performance of the methods.
- •The possibility of inferring surnames from Y-STR profiles reliably enables promising applications in forensics.
Co-ancestry of human surnames and Y-chromosomes in most human populations and social groups suggests the possibility of inferring one from the other. However, such an intuitive perspective remains to be formally explored. In the present study, we develop two computational methods, based on cosine distance (dcos) and coalescence distance (dcoal) respectively, to infer surnames from Y-STR profiles. We also survey Y-STR variations at 15 loci for 19,009 individuals of Shandong Province in China. For a total of 266 surnames included in the data set, our methods can pinpoint to a single surname with an average accuracy of 65%, and with an average accuracy higher than 80% when providing >4 candidate surnames. We also demonstrate that increasing the sample size of surnames and the number of STR loci improves the accuracy of surname inference. Our results indicate that the 15 non-duplicated Y-STR loci contain information from which surname can be reliably inferred for Chinese populations, showing a promising application in forensics.
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Published online: November 24, 2017
Accepted: November 23, 2017
Received in revised form: November 21, 2017
Received: June 11, 2017
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