Last month I wrote “Unlocking the Genealogical Secrets of the X Chromosome” and posted a few charts that show the inheritance of the X-chromosome through 8 generations. I thought these charts might be helpful since inheritance of the X-chromosome can be difficult to understand without seeing it.
New Chart with Ahnentafel Numbers
Since posting the article, two new charts have been created using the originals. I made one, and the other was made by Rodney Jewett (who gave me permission to re-post the chart here) and posted at dna-forums.org.
Mr. Jewett added the Ahnentafel numbers of contributing X-chromosome ancestors to the chart. Using these numbers, an individual can simply create a numbered Ahnentafel report to identify X-chromosome contributing ancestors using this chart:
Note that Ann Turner also has a text file of the Ahnentafel numbers of those ancestors who potentially contributed to the X chromosome, through 10 generations.
New Chart Showing Contribution Percentages
I’ve been very intrigued by all the recent discussion of the X-chromosome in the genetic genealogy context, and I’ve been exposed to some facts about the X-chromosome of which I previously was unaware.
For instance, I kept seeing statements that suggested that different ancestors in each generation contributed different amounts to the X chromosome. I read that at the 8th generation, one ancestor contributes 1/8th, some contribute 1/64th, and the others contribute between 1/16th and 1/32nd. I kept trying to understand this, but I had to chart it out to grasp it. Although this chart is for a male, I believe it will also work for a female by adjusting the generations slightly. The chart is big so it might take a moment to download:
Thus, the chart shows that if you are a male, your mother’s father’s mother’s father’s mother’s father’s mother contributed 1/8th of your X-chromosome, while your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s mother’s parents only contributed 1/64th.
Now, keep in mind that this chart serves only as a very rough guideline for inheritance. Although males pass the X chromosome largely unchanged to their daughters, females will usually pass a mixed X chromosome to their child a mixture of the X chromosome they received from their father and the X chromosome they received from their mother. However, a child is unlikely to receive an X chromosome from their mother that is 50% from their maternal grandfather and 50% from their maternal grandmother – it will most likely be some other more random amount between 0% and 100%. Thus, an ancestor is likely to be either under- or over-represented in an actual X chromosome.
Please, if you find any errors in my chart, please feel free to email me and I’ll do my best to correct them.
With the advent of affordable sequencing, I would love to see a study that examined X-chromosome inheritance in a family of 6 or 8 generations. How closely would it match the theoretical inheritance probabilities from the chart above? It’s probably just a matter of time before this research is conducted.
P.S. – Feel free to use these charts, but please give proper credit.