Increasing phylogenetic resolution of the Y chromosome haplogroup tree has led to finer temporal and spatial resolution for studies of human migration. Haplogroup T, initially known as K2 and defined by mutation M70, is found at variable frequencies across West Asia, Africa, and Europe. While several SNPs were recently discovered that extended the length of the branch leading to haplogroup T, only two SNPs are known to mark internal branches of haplogroup T. This low level of phylogenetic resolution has hindered studies of the origin and dispersal of this interesting haplogroup, which is found in Near Eastern non-Jewish populations, Jewish populations from several communities, and in the patrilineage of President Thomas Jefferson. Here we map 10 new SNPs that, together with the previously known SNPs, mark 11 lineages and two large subclades (T1a and T1b) of haplogroup T. We also report a new SNP that links haplogroups T and L within the major framework of Y chromosome evolution. Estimates of the timing of the branching events within haplogroup T, along with a comprehensive geographic survey of the major T subclades, suggest that this haplogroup began to diversify in the Near East ∼25 kya. Our survey also points to a complex history of dispersal of this rare and informative haplogroup within the Near East and from the Near East to Europe and sub-Saharan Africa. The presence of T1a2 chromosomes in Near Eastern Jewish and non-Jewish populations may reflect early exiles between the ancient lands of Israel and Babylon. The presence of different subclades of T chromosomes in Europe may be explained by both the spread of Neolithic farmers and the later dispersal of Jews from the Near East. Finally, the moderately high frequency (∼18%) of T1b* chromosomes in the Lemba of southern Africa supports the hypothesis of a Near Eastern, but not necessarily a Jewish, origin for their paternal line.
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