What Is the Origin of Blood Type B?

Updated July 19, 2017

There are more than 20 global blood type groups; some are more common than others. Blood typing is often used for the study of genetic variation. It also makes it possible to match blood and organ donors and detect genetically inherited diseases. Blood type B is one of the three major classifications of blood types, the others being A and O. These were discovered in 1900. People with blood type B have Anti-A antibodies in their blood serum.


The letter or letters allocated to a specific blood type represent specific antigens, substances that stimulate the immune system. Blood type B is genetically inherited. Blood type B has the B antigen. Someone with blood type B has inherited type O blood from her mother and type B blood from her father. According to the American Red Cross, blood type B is the least common type. It is found in 11 per cent of whites, 19 per cent of African Americans, 10 per cent of Hispanics and 25 per cent of Asians.


Until a few years ago, blood type O was considered suitable for people receiving a blood donation, regardless of their blood type. For a long time, blood type O donors were referred to as "universal donors." These days, thanks to new research and a better understanding of blood types, blood type O is not suitable for everyone. If you have blood type B+, you may receive blood types B+, B-, O+ and O-. If you have blood type B-, you may receive blood types O- and B-. If you have blood type AB, you may receive any blood type. If you have blood type AB-, then you may receive O- or A-.

Blood Type Testing

Blood type tests are conducted on a person prior to receiving a blood transfusion and on pregnant women. The test takes an individual blood sample and mixes it with plasma samples that each contain different types of antibody. The results are determined by how similar types of antibodies clump together when mixed with the blood. This determines the blood type A, B, AB or O, and the rhesus type (positive of negative).

Origins of Blood Typing

Austrian scientist Karl Landsteiner discovered the ABO blood type system in 1900. This system is based on four basic types of blood: A, B, AB, and O. Thirty years later Landsteiner received the Nobel Prize for his contributions to science. It was later discovered that Czech scientist Jan Jansky had classified human blood into four types independently, around the same time as Landsteiner. Jansky's classification of blood types is still in use in Russia and the former Soviet states.


Blood types are determined as a result of different antigens on the red blood cell's surfaces. Antigens are chemicals that initiate the production of antibodies. Blood cell antigens develop from a precursor known as H substance. While antigens are found on the cell's surface, antibodies are found in the blood plasma. The differences between human blood types are caused by either the presence or absence of antigens and antibodies. Your type and combination of theses molecules depends on what you inherited from your parents.

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About the Author

Corinna Underwood is a freelance writer based in Atlanta. She specializes in health and lifestyle features. Her writing has been published in a number of magazines including "Alternative Medicine," "Alive" and "Chronogram". She is also the author of Haunted History of Atlanta and North Georgia and Murder and Mystery in Atlanta. She holds a Master of Arts in women’s studies from Staffordshire University.