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Genetics and Genealogy

Updated: May 15, 2023

In recent years, advances in genetics have revolutionized the study of genealogy. DNA testing has allowed researchers to discover new information about family history and trace lineage back further than ever before. In turn, this has made genetics increasingly important to genealogists, who can now access a wealth of data with a single test.

The use of genetics in genealogical research dates back to the 1980s, when the first DNA tests were used to establish paternity. Since then, DNA testing has become more sophisticated and can now be used to trace lineage back multiple generations. By comparing genetic markers across different family members, genealogists are able to create detailed family trees and establish relationships between individuals. This is especially useful when trying to trace ancestry back beyond traditional records, such as birth, death and marriage certificates.

In addition to tracing lineage, genetic testing can also provide insight into a person’s ethnic background. By examining a person’s genetic makeup, genealogists are able to determine the proportion of their ancestry that originates from different geographical regions. This is especially useful for those with mixed ancestry, as it can provide vital clues as to which countries their ancestors may have come from.

In addition to its traditional uses, genetics has also found a place in the field of forensic genealogy. By comparing the DNA of living relatives with that of unidentified remains, forensic genealogists are able to identify the victims of unsolved crimes and reunite families with their missing relatives. This has been especially important in cases involving mass graves, such as those uncovered in the Bosnian War, where the identities of the deceased were previously unknown.

In conclusion, genetics is becoming increasingly important to genealogists as new techniques are developed. By providing information about ancestry and ethnicity, DNA testing is allowing genealogists to create more detailed family trees and uncover new information about their relatives. In addition, it has also found its place in the field of forensic genealogy, providing researchers with the tools they need to solve some of the world’s most heinous crimes.

I invited a genealogist friend of mine, who works intensively on this topic, to write a blog on the subject of genetics in genealogy and in particular its findings for determining the early settlement of today's Canton Glarus.

Terms of Genetic Genealogy

From Hermann Bossi, Oberurnen

The laws of heredity

Similarities between family members have always been noticed, even at times when the reasons for them could not be explained. On the other hand, there were also differences that sometimes made parents doubt. A blue-eyed child from two brown-eyed parents? It was a monk and researcher named Gregor Mendel who was the first to recognize the principles behind it. In his experiments with flowers, he recognized two fundamentally different types of inheritance. In one, the traits mix, and from a red and a white flower comes a pink mixture. Obviously, characteristics of both parent flowers were passed on equally here. In dominant-recessive inheritance, on the other hand, only the trait of one parent takes effect, so the child flower will be red. But two red child flowers will produce on average three red child flowers and one white child flower. If the suppressed, i.e. recessive, trait is inherited from both parents, then it can prevail. A well-known example of dominant-recessive inheritance is the blood group. Factors A and B are dominant, factor 0 is recessive. In the case of AB, two dominant factors are equally effective, in the case of A and B, depending on the parents, the composition may consist of two A or B parts, or they each have a suppressed 0 part. Only if a 0-part is inherited from both parents, the child also has the blood group 0. Similarly, the predispositions for blue eyes are also suppressed. These hereditary characteristics have a name, they are called genes or hereditary traits.

Important in Mendel's insight is that every child has a double genetic set, i.e. one from the mother, the other from the father. This in turn implies the possibility that suppressed genes from the grandparents can become active again in the child. Of particular importance, however, is the fact that a healthy gene can switch off the function of the diseased gene from the other parent. However, there is still a risk of passing on a hereditary disease, especially if inbred connections are made.

Finally, the so-called chromosomes, long worm-shaped structures, were identified as the seat of the genes. These are present in pairs, one from one parent, the other from the other parent. Humans have 22 pairs of chromosomes as well as the sex chromosomes, although these only form a true pair in females, while in males they consist of mixed factors. The 23 pairs of chromosomes are located within the human cell in the so-called nucleus.

Diploid and haploid

So, we have all the chromosomes in our cells in pairs, which in technical language is called a diploid chromosome set. So, each child has 50% of the genes from the father, and the other 50% from the mother. But how does this come about?

There are two cells in the human body that deviate from this rule; they do not have any pairs of chromosomes in them, but only one chromosome each. These special cells are called haploid because they carry only one hereditary trait. The cells are the female egg cell and the male sperm cell. Logically, therefore, the union of the egg and sperm cell results in a diploid set of chromosomes. The composition of the different chromosomes in the egg and sperm cells differ in their origin from the respective grandparent. And so it happens that the genetic match between parents and child should always be 50%, while this can be different in siblings, depending on which grandparent could contribute how much. However, the sex of the child is always determined by the part inherited from the father. The female sex chromosome is the X chromosome, the male sex chromosome is the Y chromosome. The female has a pair of 2 X chromosomes, the male has one X and one Y chromosome. The latter comes from the father. Since parts of our color vision predispositions are located on the X chromosome, the incidence of certain forms of color blindness is significantly higher in males than in females because the Y chromosome cannot correct a defective gene.

The average genetic match of two siblings is 50%. Extreme cases from 0 to 100 % are possible, but rather unlikely, the further the differences move away from 50 %, the lower their probability. An exception are identical twins who share the same genome and thus have almost 100 % agreement.

In the case of half siblings, the relationship is halved, and the average match is 25%; again, variations from 0 to 50 are possible, and the laws of probability reduce extreme variations in this case as well.

It is certainly not necessary to mention that genetic relationship should not be established in the case of step-siblings, and if it is, then the respective ancestors should be relatively closely related.

The relationship to the grandparents is also different, because as we have seen, the haploid set of egg and sperm can be completely different. The same mechanism that generates differences between siblings is also responsible for the same differences between grandchildren and grandparents. So, there are average values of the degree of relationship, and the deviations can become larger and larger the more distant the degree of relationship is.

Now, there is a contradiction in such percentages, because everyone has certainly heard that all people have a match of over 99% in their genetic makeup. This is an undisputed fact. The percentages therefore refer to those parts of the genome that show differences. The various commercial genetic tests also focus on such areas. With the help of the matches thus found, together with information on age, the providers are able to estimate the nature of the relationship. Of course, this also has limits, and at the latest at 0.1 % one can usually speak of coincidence. However, close relatives of the first, second and third degree will usually be recognized well.

Autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome

Important terms in genealogical gene analysis are autosomal, mitochondrial and Y-chromosome. Autosomal refers to the genome of the 22 pairs of chromosomes, although of course only specific regions are looked at during testing. Creating a complete gene sequence would also be incredibly expensive. Using special chips that bind specific gene regions, the autosomal profile is created. This is used to estimate relationships, as we looked at in the previous chapter. Sometimes they also include markers that point to specific ethnicities. Popular ethnicity estimation is mostly dependent on what the respective providers have in their databases. It shouldn't be taken too seriously; it's a game. Kinship estimates, on the other hand, are a valuable and helpful tool for genealogy and have provided me with valuable help a few times.

Mitochondrial DNA, also known as mt-DNA, is genetic material that does not belong to the chromosomes of the cell nucleus but occurs in the so-called mitochondria. The mitochondria are responsible for supplying the cell with energy by using chemical processes to break down the oxygen transported with the blood into molecules that release energy needed for other processes. Evolutionarily, the mitochondrion was once an independent bacterium that was integrated into a cell at a certain early point in its developmental history. The cell thus acquired the advantage of being able to convert oxygen, which until then had been toxic to it, into usable energy.

These mitochondria also occur with unchanged genome in the oocytes and spermatozoa, but the paternal mitochondria are discarded when they fuse with the tail part of the sperm, only the maternal mitochondria remain in the stem cell. As a consequence, the mitochondrion is always inherited from the maternal line. Like all genomes, the mitochondrion is subject to mutations, so that the sequence of changes in the genome can be traced back to that woman from whom all present-day mitochondria are descended; this woman is called mitochondrial Eve by analogy to the Bible. It is a questionable analogy, because it is not about the first woman, and also, she never met the Adam to be discussed after.

Mitochondrial and autosomal DNA can be carried out by any subject. However, this does not apply to the Y chromosomes, because, as already seen, these occur only in males. And while the mt-DNA is always inherited from the mother, the Y-chromosome is inherited exclusively from father to son. Here, too, a family tree of all males can be created via the many mutations that have taken place over the millennia, leading to the Y-Adam, the one from which all present-day males descend in a strictly paternal line. If now a daughter wants to know her paternal line, then she must take either the father, a brother, uncle, or cousin in claim to deliver the sample. The advantage of the brother is that he also has the same mt-DNA.

Surnames and DNA

The Y chromosome has always been inherited from father to son, and similarly, the family name is inherited patrilineally in many societies. However, there are also cases where something happens that results in different inheritance of the Y chromosome and the family name.

Thus, an ancestor may have received the name as a result of adoption. In many cases, this can be traced through existing documents, and it is also sometimes possible to identify the biological parents through this.

Another anomaly occurs when the biological father is not the legal father. What today also occurs as a result of sperm donation, was in the past usually the result of adultery or in bad cases even rape.

Finally, there is the anomaly of a woman being single and the child therefore inheriting her name. In some cases, this was later corrected by legitimation as a result of marriage and an associated procedure, and the child was later given the father's name. But in many cases the father is unknown and so the family name passed from the mother to the child.

A fourth anomaly, which has already been uncovered a few times through genetic testing, is the swapping of two babies at the maternity hospital. Similarly, child stealing is the abduction of a child and selling it to a family. While in the case of clinics it is often still feasible to find the true parents through the available records, it is unlikely to be possible in the case of criminal child procuring.

The fourth case is special because in this case both fatherhood and motherhood of the child are in question. Therefore, it is important to be able to exclude such anomalies in the case of Y and mt DNA determinations. Since this is not so easy, especially since we do not know how the ancestors practiced marital fidelity, it is of course safer if different people from different branches of the family participate in such a test.

The surnames in use today had their origin in the Middle Ages, from the eighth century hereditary names were given in Venice, until the tenth century this tradition has spread in northern Italy and until the twelfth century also to France, Spain and Germany. The first family names in Switzerland originated in the 14th century and became common in the 16th century. Often professions, physical characteristics or places of origin were used for the name.

Thus, once the first hurdle has been cleared, the Y-DNA can also be used to determine the relationship to other families. The larger the number of participants, the more precise the overall picture becomes. It is a family tree that is constantly under construction.

Sample name

The sample name is the same principle in most companies. First you create an account on their website, then you order a DNA test. This is usually sent quite quickly. The first step is to activate the test kit on the website, which you can find in the instructions. With the kit number you enter, you link your account to the kit. Of course, you can also add further kits for other participants such as family members. Depending on the provider the sampling differs, mostly it is a swab test, where you rub genetic material from the cheek with sticks and put the swab (the swab) into a container with a liquid. This is then sent to the laboratory. The second way is to collect a saliva sample, which is then mixed with a liquid when it is closed and sent. Now it can take some time for the sample to arrive at the lab, which is usually located in the USA. The progress can be seen on the website, also how far the analysis has progressed once the sample has arrived. When the sample is ready, you will be notified by e-mail.


Leaving the popular ethnicity estimation aside, we go straight to the interesting point, the matches. The providers have helpful tools here, with which we can sort the thousands of matches, first of all, of course, it offers itself to take the degree of the percentage match as a criterion. If the people don't tell us anything at first, then it might be possible to use their family tree to find out why they show up. The problem with this is that not every participant has a pedigree, and many are also very marginal. Another clue may be found in the shared matches that can be viewed in a list. This can give a hint in which direction to look. Finally, there is also the method of triangulation. This means that the same gene sequences are found in different participants, which indicates that these genes come from a common ancestor. It must be said, however, that the genetic method does not dispense from also doing the very classical genealogical work, i.e. verifying the connections by means of family trees and, if necessary, research in archives and forums. Many providers help by pointing out possible matches between their own entries and those of other customers.

Other autosomal tests

Besides the purely genealogical view, there are other interesting things to discover. For example, the detection of Neanderthal genes has become popular. These are found in every modern European with between 0.5 and 2 % and are the result of the mixing of the ancestors with local Neanderthal groups. The same applies in the case of Denisova man for the Asians, where the Papua living in New Guinea swing on top with a portion of 5% Denisova genes. Since most genetic tests are trimmed however on Europeans, the Denisova remain mostly outside. Certain genes of the Neanderthals can be assigned to certain characteristics and also health-relevant aspects.

In addition, there are many other tests that focus on health, lifestyle, sports or nutrition, but these topics are secondary to genealogy.


Let us now leave autosomal analyses and turn to methods that promise a deep dive into our past. Haplogroups have the term haplo in them, which we have already seen in haploid cells. Thus, it is a purely paternal or maternal group. The system of haplogroups is a model that is in constant evolution. Each new analysis leads to an extension and given the few people who have been tested so far, compared to the whole of humanity, it probably has more of a sampling character. This does not mean that the model is wrong, it is just far from complete. The Y haplogroups are designated by letters from A to T, the mt haplogroups are also designated by letters, but they do not follow an order corresponding to ancestry.


In connection with haplogroups, the term SNP comes up again and again. The SNP is an abbreviation for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. This means that a single base, called a nucleotide, has been replaced by another. The four bases are abbreviated with the letters A, C, G and T. They stand for adenine, cytosine, guanine and thymine. They are linked by a long chain of sugar molecules and phosphates to form a long chain, with a specific sequence. Via so-called hydrogen bonds, the bases are each bound to a counterpart, A to T, G to C, creating the so-called double helix, which thus has a positive as well as a negative code (comparable to the former photonegative). This structure gives the DNA stability. The double helix is woven into a more complex structure that ends in the chromosome. Certain sections of it are genes, others have control functions, and of many sections it is not known what their purpose is.

First, one starts from the original type, i.e. what the mt or Y DNA looked like before all mutations. Each individual base has its place, and this can be assigned a number. Now, unfortunately, competing companies have introduced different numbering systems, which requires great care when working with positions. A SNP is given when at a certain position base A has been replaced by C, for example. This is a mutation that differs from a copying error in that it is found throughout. In the case of SNPs, it is assumed that such a mutation occurs every 2 to 3 generations, i.e. a permanent change in the sequence. If such a SNP is discovered, then a designation is assigned to it. Unfortunately, due to the fact that different companies and societies are doing research on this, sometimes different names are used for the same SNP.

On the basis of the examination of many people it could be determined in which order the SNP took place. Now it is usually the case that there are considerably more generations between two people, and so SNP groups that have been passed on to different people are grouped together as blocks, as long as no news of any branching off is found. The block is then divided into two blocks, with the SNP that match the new sample in question and the block of those mutations that occurred afterwards.

So, the summary in blocks shows that we are far from the Complete Image, like an old newspaper picture with a very coarse grain. Additional tests will help to give the picture more sharpness. Nevertheless, what the data tell us about the history of mankind and the migrations of the different groups is impressive.


STR stands for Short Tandem Repeats and refers to specific nucleotide base sequences of two or three bases that repeat several times (e.g. ACTACT). The number of repeats is used for relationship determination, such as paternity analysis. This method is also called the genetic fingerprint, because each person has its own STR profile (i.e. the number of repetitions of the specific STR), this method is also widely used in criminalistics. In connection with the SNP, the STR can be used to determine the proximity of a relationship.


These are fossil findings, i.e. genetic material from excavations, e.g. from ancient tombs, but also from mummies (e.g. Tutankhamun or Ötzi) and sometimes from individual bones. An analysis of genes is also interesting to learn how a historical ethnic group was composed. The older the sample, the greater the decay of the genetic material. Nevertheless, researchers have succeeded in completely reconstructing the genome of the Neanderthal, for example. In addition to autosomal DNA, the mt and Y DNA (if the dead person was male) is also determined, if possible. The results of the archaeo-DNA help to refine the more distant SNP and to better understand the migrations of the ancestors.

Group projects

Once the closest SNP in time is determined, i.e. the one that is known last in the series of mutations, the next step is to join corresponding group projects. These can refer to SNPs and their subgroups (e.g. I am in two R-U152 groups), or they can refer to regions (e.g. Switzerland) or family names. In such groups one can consult tables and discover closely related families, also many groups offer discussion forums and the administrators often helpfully assist members in their search.

Paleogeography, archaeology and history

In addition to SNP and ancient genetic material, knowledge of past conditions is of course also important. Which area was icy, flooded or a desert when. Ancestral migration is inextricably linked to the evolution of geography and climate, and the impact of natural disasters must also be considered. Cultural history is also important to understand how our ancestors lived, were they hunters, farmers or warriors? This is where genetics and archaeology come together. In rare cases, of course, there is the luck that with massive participation of persons of a family even historical sources can be consulted, and one can even assign the mutation to concrete historical ancestors due to the distribution of the SNP.

Genetic Genealogy - Practical Application

After the theory, it is now time for the practice, and here also concrete companies are named, their advantages and disadvantages should not be concealed. But first there is one rule:

Genetic genealogy does not replace classical genealogical research!

So, one should certainly be able to bring in a certain basic stock of information, at least the family tree up to the great-grandparents. Admittedly, in some cases this is not possible, for example in the case of donor children and adopted children. Here, of course, the genetic test is the method of choice.

Autosomal tests are used for a broad search for relatives from the paternal and maternal line. Various providers make their services available here, and some also supplement this with offers on health topics, nutrition, or lifestyle. However, these aspects are not considered further here, as they are not relevant for genealogical research.



Price USD





cheek swab

39 - 89



Large (Europe)


Saliva (spit)




Big (USA)


Saliva (spit)






cheeks swab





The test of 23andMe also includes interesting functions such as a determination of the Y- and mt-haplogroups and the search for Neanderthal genes. Recent analyses of MyHeritage can be transferred to Geneanet, where a patrilineal haplogroup estimation is performed from these data.

It is unfortunate that Ancestry is opposed to uploading other DNA tests, they have an enormous database. On the other hand, Ancestry customers would be advised to upload their data to other databases such as MyHeritage to optimize the search for relatives. There are also third-party providers such as GEDMatch, where both genetic tests and GED files of existing family trees can be uploaded. Unfortunately, such sites do not yet find the popularity they deserve.

For the European tester, I generally recommend MyHeritage first, they often have very good deals, especially before holidays, and have strong roots in Europe. As a company based in Israel, their knowledge of various Jewish DNA in particular is unbeaten. So, if you have or suspect Jewish roots, MyHeritage is certainly your best bet. A disadvantage of MyHeritage is the kinship analysis, which breaks after a few generations, and unfortunately many of the poster charts often show errors like overwriting. However, this problem can be solved, e.g. by exporting the family tree as GED and analyzing it with a powerful software. Another disadvantage is the non-recognition of multiple entries (here e.g. the French site Geneanet is very strong, pointing out when someone might appear twice). Valuable are the smartmatches to other family trees, which support the search for relatives even with classical genealogy.

Ancestry has strong tools and good access to collections, even if the focus is strongly related to the USA. If you are looking for emigrated relatives, you can hardly avoid Ancestry.

23andMe offers besides genealogy mainly medical tests, which is probably more the focus of this provider. However, many members have also transferred their DNA data to myHeritage, Geneanet and GEDMatch, which can compensate for the disadvantage of the rather small database.

The download is usually in the form of a ZIP file, which you can send directly to other providers. Of course, you first have to go through a few checkboxes to give the necessary consent and to take note of the data protection notice. Most of the time you will be notified via email as soon as the file is ready for download.

How can DNA analysis help Glarner genealogy?

First of all it must be said that as a Glarner one is in the fortunate position to be able to fall back on a well worked up genealogy. Thus, many church books are available, and especially the genealogical work of Kubly-Müller is unique in its kind. For many Glarner hardly any questions remain open. But even the church books, Kubly-Müller and other records reach their limits at some point. On the one hand, there are families, such as the Wild family, who can indicate a moment of foundation, e.g. through immigration. On the other hand, there are many long-established families where a wide selection of forefathers is already available at the beginning of the records, as for example in the case of the Stüssi family:

Now there are different possibilities here, so it can be quite also that different lines with the same name must not be related at all. For a comparison with autosomal tests the ancestors are too far back in time, because after 5 generations at the latest they lose their significance. It is quite clear that such questions can only be clarified with a Y-chromosome haplogroup test. The prerequisite for this, however, is that male descendants are still alive today who can provide a sample. Unfortunately, nothing can be done with lines that have died out in the male lineage. But if descendants of different lines would carry out a determination of the haplogroup, it could be determined whether they are related, and if so, in which relation the groups stand to each other. In addition, it could be estimated accurately when the various branches of the family separated from each other. Thus, a genetic forefather of the Stüssi could possibly be determined.

Another example should be the Heussi family, which has its roots in the Kerenzerberg. Here there are two old, continuously known lines, where it is conceivable that one could find the common origin by Y-DNA. But this is only part of the story, because different lines of the Heussi cannot trace their lines so far back, because a fire in 1834 destroyed the church books of Kerenzen. As a result, some of the prehistory was reconstructed, but it did not go beyond the year 1700. And some of these Heussi could find out how they relate to other Heussi as well as the two old Heussi lineages with the help of the Y-DNA of their male descendants. Not only the Heussi have this problem, but all families of Kerenzen. Some other Glarus communities also have certain gaps in their lore, but that of Kerenzen is certainly the most painful.

At this point, however, I must note that neither the haplogroup tests of 23andMe nor the haplogroup estimation of Geneanet are suitable to answer this question. For this purpose, there are specialized tests from other providers, but they are not cheap.

In this context, I can recommend the Big Y-700 from FamilytreeDNA (FTDNA), which is priced at 449 USD. However, I would basically start with this test, because the other pre-stages only provide rough estimates that are not helpful. With the Big Y-700, on the other hand, a precise and up-to-date position in the male family tree is determined, and with each new analysis the tree grows as well, so it is quite possible to enjoy increasingly precise upgrades. When different branches of the same family test each other, they often get their own subgroups, and this can go back to a time two to three generations ago.

Further out, of course, there are also references to the relationships with other families, and on which way the ancestors came to Glarnerland. There are also other companies that offer such tests. For another 100 USD, the data can be transferred from FTDNA to YFull, a Russian company that has a strong database and powerful tools to offer. This is especially useful if, like me, you belong to a new and under-researched haplogroup. YFull also allows you to compare with other companies such as YSeq. Finally, all companies also allow you to join different group projects. These are either related to specific haplogroups, to specific geographic regions or even to family names.

Of course, there are also black sheep in this field. The company Igenea should be mentioned here, which offers the same performance for a steep 1499 francs. The company is often criticized in the forums, also because the database is modest. This is no wonder considering the x-fold inflated price.

In the case of Fridolin Stüssi, born 1580 in Linthal, a haplogroup is available via a descendant from the USA - R-BY3620. This is a subgroup of the Italo-Celtic group R-U152 and originated about 4000 years ago. This shows that there is still plenty of time between this haplogroup and today's Stüssi, which could certainly be refined by more Y-haplogroup determinations.

So these are the technical aspects, but of course the question remains whether it is even possible to find willing test subjects. After all, everyone does it at their own expense, and that also means that they must be fundamentally interested in a deep exploration of their family history. In addition to the financial outlay, it is also accompanied by the willingness to reveal something about one's own genes. And as with autosomal testing, there is a risk that the results may be unpleasant, that is, one may be confronted with the fact that the story as one has known it so far was a lie. But on the other hand, a lot of pleasant surprises can be waiting for you, and what you get in any case is a family tree that goes back to the genetic Adam who lived about 260 thousand years ago. You can trace the migration of the ancestors, and you also learn in what cultural context they were. And of course, you get to know interesting people who are also doing research.

So everyone is responsible for his own history, of course I would be happy if one or the other takes the chance to reveal the history written in his genes to fill white spots of Glarus history with content.

Genetics of the People of Glarus compared with other Regions of Switzerland

Eupedia assumes that Switzerland can be divided into the following genetic regions:

Concerning the male lineage, Martin Zieger and Silvia Utz conducted a study which showed that the Alps acted like a barrier with respect to genetics. I have added my data available for the canton of Glarus and, for simplicity, combined the haplogroups into ethnic origin populations. As the first group we find ancestors deeply rooted in African history. Here an interesting picture emerges that suggests a concentration in the east and west of Switzerland, especially St. Gallen.

Another origin of many Swiss is in the Orient, the haplogroups in question are often also found in Jews, Arabs and other inhabitants of the Near East. With regard to Switzerland a kind of negative picture to the African genes shows up, here there are less shares in the east and west, Glarus seems to be the most oriental canton.

Now we come to the Old Europeans, these are descendants of people whose European roots can be traced back to the Paleolithic Age. There is obviously a north-south gradient here, perhaps also an indication of the direction of settlement in the deep past?

A rather similar pattern emerges for people descended from people representing an ancient population of eastern Europe. They were a side branch of the steppe people and probably also spoke an Indo-European language. The canton Glarus seems to have been spurned by these people.

Finally come the steppe people, those who are assigned to the Kurgan culture of the Pontic steppe, their haplogroup is summarized as R1b. To them belong many subgroups, including some Germanic and Celtic branches, although many Germanic people belonged genetically to older European groups. Interestingly, the descendants of the Steppe people are concentrated in the Alps, while they make up a smaller proportion in the Central Plateau, but right at the top swings the Ticino. By the way, this is also true in relation to the regions of northern Italy, where the Ticino swings on top.

The Germanic groups consist both of old European types, but also of steppe people. There is a clear barrier here between north and south, the canton of Bern seems to be the most Germanic region of Switzerland, the least Germanic people are found in Ticino.

The opposite, which is hardly surprising, is the case with the Italo-Celtic genes, which are most widespread in Ticino. North of the Alps a contrast can be seen, the higher the Germanic population, the lower the Celtic proportion. North of the Alps, the canton of Glarus seems to be the most Celtic, after all, an Irish monk (with a Germanic name) adorns its coat of arms.

Due to the complex structure, Switzerland is quite obviously divided into distinct genetic regions, which show a clear profile. The distribution of the genetic groups also tells a lot about the respective settlement history. Thus, the rather low proportion of families from old European populations suggests that the settlement of the canton of Glarus was quite late. This changed only with the Celts, and they were soon followed by the Romans. Even today there are a number of Celtic and Romanic river and field names. Compared to other regions, when the Germanic Alemanni arrived, the population of Glarus was probably quite homogeneous and mainly Gallo-Roman. It was mostly the case that the Alemanni did not displace the population but created new building and arable land by clearing.


  • Zieger Martin, Utz Silvia - The Y-chromosomal haplotype and haplogroup distribution of modern Switzerland still reflects the alpine divide as a geographical barrier for human migration.


  • 23andMe

  • FamilyTreeDNA

Appendix - Relationships of the patrilineal lines of various Glarus families

The diagram represents the different migration paths of Glarus families, as far as a test is available.

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