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One of the most interesting parts of my genealogy research has been connecting with other people who are U3b haplogroup and who are questioning and searching for the same information that I am. We are a small group, but we share information and exchange opinions about our research with each other.

To give you some perspective on how small our haplogroup is, there are only about 1% of people who are U3 haplogroup in Europe. Most of those U3 people are U3a, the most populous sub-clade. One of our U3b group estimates that there are probably only about 500,000 people in the world who are U3b. In the FamilyTreeDNA database, there are a total of 107,278 samples; only .02% of those samples are U3b — 215 people.

There is an Indigenous Populations application available through Genebase, another large company that does DNA testing. Although most of our group are users from FamilyTreeDNA, it is possible to run your results through the Indigenous Population Application to see what you come up with. I did this with my DNA results.

The application is one which shows you a ‘RMI’ — Relative Match Index — to different populations. You can run your results through various ‘journals’ of studies that have been done on Indigenous Populations. A RMI is a measure of how closely your genetic profile matches those of any given population group in the journal, and shows you how you match that group as compared to other populations in the world.

I ran my results through numerous journals of studies done on different groups of population, and in most of them, my RMI showed at 100 when compared to the Polish Romani. That means that I am 100 times more likely to genetically match that population as compared to the rest of the populations in the world. The problem is that there is not any sensitivity analysis in the Genebase Indigenous Populations application. Anyone who carries the HVR1 0f 16343G and the HVR2 markers (73 150 263 315.c) associated with Polish Roma populations are likely to show up as high RMI to the Polish Roma, even though the markers of the HVR1/HVR2 account for only 7% of the Full Genome Sequence. In addition, many of the journal sample groups are small, and we don’t know the extent of the testing that was done. The statistics of the Genebase application are skewed because of the small number of markers analyzed and the limited numbers of samples in the test groups.

The FAQ section of the FamilyTreeDNA website says the Full Genome Sequence has now become the standard for dna ancestry research. Results identify the ethnic and geographic origin on the maternal line. We have to be careful about jumping to conclusions that may be founded in faulty statistics. We wonder if there is anyone out there gathering dna samples from Romani people for the FGS analysis? We doubt it. We are thinking that there must be some markers in the coding region of the FGS that would be identified with the Roma people, but because of the lack of research, this ‘dna signature’ has not been determined. It remains a mystery until such time that research can catch up with our questions.

3 Responses to “The U3b Haplogroup Mystery”

  1. Charlotte Carl-Mitchell says:

    I too was U3b when I upgraded my test on FamilyTreeDNA. I would be interested in any other results you found in your search for information on our small group.

  2. D'Rinda says:

    I enjoy reading your blog, especially the DNA posts. I was very excited to have my mtDNA testing done by the Genographic Project three years ago. My results show me to belong to Haplogroup U, subclade U3 – 16214T, 16343G, 16362C – have not upgraded to HVR2. I know U3 is a small group so it is great to find your website with some interesting information.

  3. Colin Clarke says:


    I recently joined this rare breed of U3b types via an FTDNA test. As far as I can see, given my total confusion about what all of this FGS result means, it confirms I am human, but not necessarily smart. :-)

    All I know is I have a paper trail maternal line back into c1800 in southern Germany.

    I’m looking around to see what I can do with the results. It feels like I found some money, but all the shops are closed.


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