16 December 2012

Geno 2.0 - The Website

My Geno 2.0 test results arrived Tuesday night.  HURRAY!!!!

The website which is still in Beta testing has the following sections:

YOUR STORY includes how and when your distant ancestors moved out of African and the various populations with which they interacted over thousands of years of migration.  The migration is determined by tracing mutations in your Y-chromosome DNA (if you are a male) for paternal lines and on your mitochondrial DNA for maternal lines.  Your haplogroup (basically your twig on the World Family Tree) is given as an alternating series of letters and numbers.  A short video is available on the site.

YOUR MAP are pages begin with your oldest known ancestors in Africa and shows your ancestors’ migration out of Africa for your maternal line and if you are a male, also for your paternal line.   Each page is a haplogroup and as you click on the next section, you see how that haplogroup changed to the next haplogroup and how your ancestors migrated.  Below the map on each page is interesting background about each haplogroup is given including its location of origin and time.  A Heat Map indicates the frequency of your haplogroup in the areas it has been found.  The FUTURE section shows the entire migration for all haplogroups, but the information on the page indicates that as more data is found, more detail will appear.  There is also a request for you to complete your profile and contribute your story.  This enables you to tell what you know about your maternal and paternal lineages and as others add their story, you will be able to read them if you match them.

WHO AM I? displays how you affiliate with nine world regions.  As this is determined from your entire genome that is tested, your percentages include information from both of your parents going back six generations.  This reflects both recent influences and ancient genetic patterns as various groups mixed over thousands of years.  As your ancestors mixed with extinct hominid cousins such as the Neanderthals and Denisovans (/dɪ̈ˈniːsəvən/) these are included.  A short video is found on this page.

Two major populations are listed for each person.  My personal population percentages are:

43% Northern European which states that my results are found at the highest frequency in areas of the UK, Finland, Russia and Germany in the current reference populations, and to lesser degrees throughout the rest of Europe.  This is probably the earliest hunter-gatherers in Europe and who moved from the Middle East during the Neolithic period about 3,000 years ago.

37% Mediterranean with the highest frequencies in southern Europe and the Levant people (people from Sardinia, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, Egypt and Tunisia.  It is at lower frequencies in the rest of Europe, the Middle East, Central and South Asia.  This group migrated from the Middle East around 8,000 years ago during the Neolitic period and likely form the western part of the Fertile Crescent.

18% Southwest Asian is found at the highest frequencies in India and the area including Tajikistan and Iran.  It is at fewer frequencies in Europe and North Africa.  Again, the movement was probably during the Neolithic period and possibly from the Fertile Crescent.  The site states:  “Individuals with heavy European influence in their ancestry will show traces of this because all Europeans have mixed with people from Southwest Asia over tens of thousands of years.”

Below this the site explains what all this means and clarifies that it does not mean that I belong to these groups or are from these regions, but that these groups have a similar genetic match to me.  It further asks me to remember that this is a mixture of my past six generations and ancient patterns established over thousands of years.

My first reference population is considered British (UK).  This reiterates that my line is among the first hunter-gathers who arrived more than 35,000 years ago and that the Mediterranean and Southwest Asian percentages came later with the spread of agriculture from the Fertile Crescent.

My second reference population is considered German.  This connects me to people who are native to Germany.  This essentially states the same as the information for British and states that both northern and central European populations link to the earliest Europeans and the later movement from the Middle East.

You can click on a link to see information on all the reference populations as well as information on how the analysis was conducted, a description of all the nine regions and an example of a participant’s result discussed by Dr. Spencer Wells.

Below all that is my Hominid Ancestry for which I can click on a link to learn more details about the Neanderthal and Denisovans.

I am 2.2% Neanderthal.  National Genographic states:  “Everyone living outside of Africa today has a small amount of Neanderthal in them, carried as a living relic of these ancient encounters. A team of scientists comparing the full genomes of the two species concluded that most Europeans and Asians have between 1 to 4 percent Neanderthal DNA.”

I am 1.6 Denisovan.  National Genographic states that this may well change as they are “working to determine the best way to assess the percentage Denisovan ancestry that you carry. “

OUR STORY contains your paternal and maternal matches.  It is the section where you can read the personal stories your matches post about their lineages.  You are the center circle and those most closely related are nearer to you.  A legend indicates the level of relationship based on the size of the circle. By clicking on your circle you are offered a space of up to 1400 characters to write your story.  Another link allows you to see all those who have posted a story.  You can scroll to your haplogroup to see who has posted.  There is a guided tour to view.

PROFILE is the section which asks for cultural information on yourself and your recent ancestors in order for National Genographic to learn more about recent migrations and further refine their understanding to where people migrated today.  You can also click to be put in the scientific research study, and then complete sections entitled:  Account Settings, About Me, About My Family, About My Ethnicity, and Expert Option.*  
.......*Note that it is not extremely clear as to your oldest male and female for which to answer these questions of location.  I believe the goal is to do your oldest known female from your ALL-FEMALE line and the same for your ALL-MALE line even though this is not clear.  I have requested that it be make clearer.  Otherwise, we will have information that stems from other branches of our lineage and even the oldest male and female could be a married couple on the same line.

Transfering your Geno 2.0 results to FTDNA
Go to PROFILE and then to EXPERT OPTIONS.  Follow the prompts and add information (kit and passwords) for appropriate tests you have taken:  Geno 2, Geno 1, Y-DNA and/or mtDNA.
At this point in time there seemed to be a bug in some attempts to transfer data, but that appears to be resolved.  If you find a problem report it to FTDNA and try what I did:  I did not test Geno 1.0 with National Genographic, but transferred my HVR1 to them.  I was able to transfer my Geno 2.0 data to Family Tree DNA only when I did not enter the kit number for my Geno 1.0.

Also know that for males when they transfer their Geno 2.0 test to FTDNA, they will see all the National Genographic SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) for which they test positive for their Y-DNA portion.  This will definite add to the string of letters and numbers for many haplogroups, but remember that everyone will soon be using the first letter of your haplogroup and the terminal (last) SNPs for which you test positive.  One of my I2b people is now I-Z183.

Other Features
On many pages you can click SHARE in the upper right to email your page to others, post on one of the social networks or download to your computer.

Be sure to check the FAQs and other items under RESOURCES.

REMEMBER, the current National Genographic website is in Beta so there will be bugs, and there may be some changes as issues are fixed and features added. The email to report problems is  Genographic@ngs.org

Haven't ordered your test yet?  Go to the National Genographic webiste and join the other 559,515 participants!

copyright 16 Dec 2012

11 December 2012

23andMe Lowers Test Price to $99

Today’s exciting news is that 23andMe has lowered their test in a goal of reaching a million testers.  Not only does this have implications for the medical field, but for those of us involved in genetic genealogy.

Although we see generally around 20-30% of those testing will accept your invitation to share basic genomes, it will still increase our matches.  For those of you who have also tested at Family Tree DNA, you can have your 23andMe matches also transfer a copy of their data to Family Tree DNA and do additional testing as well.  23andMe does not test the Y chromosome or mitochondria in the same manner, but they do give you haplogroups for each as does Family Tree DNA.  Many of us are interested in adding to our Y-DNA and mtDNA projects so increasing testing from any company can mean future additions to those projects.

The other benefit to this price reduction could be that it will spur other companies to reduce their prices or at least do some great sales.  We have to realize that 23andMe has obtained funding from outside sources and other companies may not take that approach so we cannot fully expect a price war.

Purchasing kits from 23andME outside the US does raise the cost greatly as compared to Family Tree DNA's (FTDNA) comparable test called Family Finder.  However, understand that the Family Finder test does not deal with any health issues, but gives you the names and emails of the matches you have in their database.  You need not ask permission to share genome information as you do with 23andMe.  Other features are similar in both companies, although they do vary a bit.  For example, 23andMe rounds the beginning and ending positions of where you match people, and FTDNA does not.  Each company uses a slightly different set of populations to compare you so your percentage for your ancestral locations (i.e, Middle Eastern, Asian, African, etc.)  may vary somewhat.  Both companies accurately report your genome results and allow you to download your raw data so you can do chromosome mapping and phasing..

By testing with both companies most of your matches will be different as each company has a different clientele. A few people have tested with both companies. FTDNA allows you to transfer your results form 23andMe to them. 23andMe doesn't take results form FTDNA at this point in time.

These are the costs for the UK for each company:

Family Tree DNA's Family Finder:  $199 + $6.00 postage = $205 (+ return postage equivalent to about $2)
23andMe:  $99 + $79.95 = $178.95

FTDNA charges a flat rate of $6 for postage anywhere in the world. 
23andMe charges variable rates depending on the country. Shipping within the US costs just $9.95, but it costs $59.95 to send the kits to Canada, $94.95 to Cyprus, Malta and Iceland, and $118.95 to Bosnia and Belarus.

It will of course be more cost effective if people order multiple kits from 23andMe and have them sent to the same address.

The press release from 23andMe:

23andMe Raises More Than $50 Million in New Financing
Company Sets Growth Goal Of One Million Customers, Reduces Price to $99 from $299

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – December 11, 2012 – 23andMe, Inc., the leading personal genetics company, today announced it has raised more than $50 million in a Series D financing. Participants in the financing include Yuri Milner, a new investor, as well as existing investors Sergey Brin, 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki, New Enterprise Associates, Google Ventures and MPM Capital. This investment will help the company achieve its growth goal of one million customers.
The Power of One Million People

Expanding the company’s ability to reach and serve one million individuals supports 23andMe’s goal to revolutionize health and wellness. It also will accelerate 23andMe’s ability to create a powerful platform that enables researchers around the globe to make meaningful discoveries significantly faster than is currently possible. With this expansion, 23andMe, which currently has more than 180,000 customers, will aim to:

Enable groundbreaking research by creating an exponentially larger collective of actively engaged, genotyped individuals;
Help accelerate development of new treatments;
Improve understanding of wellness and disease prevention; and
Broaden access for people seeking to manage their health and well-being through direct access and greater understanding of their own genetic data.

“A community of one million actively engaged individuals will be transformational for research. A community of this magnitude will improve researchers’ ability to quickly answer questions about genetic function and the role of environmental factors. In addition, it will enable researchers to understand medication efficacy and side effects, in both medications that exist today and medications are that are in development,” Wojcicki added.

Broadening Access: Lowering Price to $99
The Series D investment, combined with rapidly decreasing costs associated with genetic testing technologies, enables 23andMe to reduce the price of its Personal Genome Service to $99, effective immediately. The company will continue to evaluate optimal pricing strategies.
The investment also enables 23andMe to expand the necessary infrastructure to support growth in its research and operational capabilities, including product development, genetic research, software development, recruitment and marketing.

About 23andMe
23andMe, Inc. is the leading personal genetics company dedicated to helping individuals understand their own genetic information through DNA analysis technologies and web-based interactive tools. The company's Personal Genome Service® enables individuals to gain deeper insights into their ancestry and inherited traits. The vision for 23andMe is to personalize healthcare by making and supporting meaningful discoveries through genetic research. 23andMe, Inc., was founded in 2006, and the company is advised by a group of renowned experts in the fields of human genetics, bioinformatics and computer science. More information is available at www.23andme.com.

05 December 2012

National Geographic Unveils New Phase of Genographic Project

Geno 2.0  Combines Powerful New Technology, Citizen Science
More than a Half-Million Participants Traced Deep Ancestry in First Phase

WASHINGTON—The National Geographic Society today announced the next phase of its Genographic Project — the multi-year global research initiative that uses DNA to map the history of human migration. Building on seven years of global data collection, Genographic continues to shine new light on humanity’s collective past, yielding tantalizing clues about humankind’s journey across the planet.

“Our first phase drew participation from more than a half-million participants from over 130 countries. It is evidence of enormous interest in deep ancestry among the global public — tracing the paths their ancestors took as they migrated around the world over the past 60,000 years,” said Project Director Dr. Spencer Wells, a population geneticist and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence.

“Now, the Genographic Project’s second phase creates an even greater citizen science opportunity —and the more people who participate, the more our scientific knowledge will grow.”

Geno 2.0
The Genographic Project enters this groundbreaking new stage of research by harnessing powerful genetic technology to further explore and document the historic pathways of human migration. Based in part on a unique database compiled during the project’s first phase, the next generation of the Genographic Project Participation Kit — Geno 2.0 — examines a unique collection of nearly 150,000 DNA identifiers that offers rich, ancestry-relevant information from across the entire human genome. In addition to learning their detailed migratory history, participants will learn how their DNA is affiliated with various regions in the world, and even if they have traces of Neanderthal or Denisovan ancestry — from our ancient hominid “cousins” who lived in Europe and parts of Asia tens of thousands of years ago before going extinct.

Participants will receive their results through a newly designed, multi-platform Web experience. In addition to full visualizations of their migratory path and regional affiliations, participants can share information on their genealogy to inform scientists about recent migratory events. These stories also can be shared with the broader Genographic Project community; as the number of contributions grows, the experience will become richer, as participants learn more about themselves and their shared ancestry. Results also can be shared as an infographic for social platforms.

Already, project results have led to the publication of 35 scientific papers, reporting results such as the origin of Caucasian languages, the early routes of migrations out of Africa, the footprint of the Phoenicians in the Mediterranean, the genetic impact of the Crusades and the genetic origins of the Romanian royal dynasty that included Vlad the Impaler. The project’s DNA results and analysis are stored in a database that is the largest collection of human anthropological genetic information ever assembled.

"The Genographic Project truly represents another facet of a new age of exploration. The newest Genographic technology will push the limits of our research, inspiring us to learn more about ourselves and leveraging the insights gleaned so far to take citizen science and genetic testing to a whole new level,” said Terry Garcia, executive vice president of Mission Programs at National Geographic.

Applications from Scientists Welcome
New to the second phase of Genographic, the project will invite applications for grants from researchers around the world for projects studying the history of the human species, which use innovative anthropological genetic tools such as the custom-designed “GenoChip,” a technology developed by scientists using Illumina’s Infinium iSelect HD BeadChips specifically for the study of human migration patterns. Sample research topics could include the origin and spread of the Indo-European languages, genetic insights into regions of high linguistic diversity such as Papua New Guinea, the number and routes of migrations out of Africa, the origin of the Inca or the genetic impact of the spread of maize agriculture in the Americas.

During Genographic’s first phase, Wells and project scientists traveled the globe to collaborate with tens of thousands of indigenous people, whose genetics are particularly significant in determining human migratory routes. Wells and Pierre Zalloua, principal investigator in the Middle East, for example, collaborated with the Toubou people of northern Chad, whose DNA has revealed insights into ancient migrations across the Sahara. Genographic’s principal investigator in the Oceana region, Lisa Matisoo-Smith, worked intensively with people on the remote south Pacific island of Emirau, collecting DNA samples and sharing the results with them.

The Genographic Project team worked with individuals, institutions and organizations all over the world to find and tell their genetic stories, including the prime minister of Kazakhstan, who invited Wells and his colleagues to collect DNA samples in his country after becoming fascinated with his family story as revealed by his Genographic kit results; the people of Barbados, who requested a study on the pattern of diversity in the country using the public participation kits; and members of the public in South Africa, who learned that they carry links to the region’s earliest inhabitants, the San people, in addition to genetic lineages from elsewhere in Africa, India and Europe.

The project also tested 200 random people on a single day on a block of Queens, New York, to demonstrate the area’s diversity. In a collaboration with cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s multidisciplinary education foundation The Silk Road Project, more than 400 students at four New York City public schools swabbed their cheeks and traced their ancient ancestry.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale of Genographic Participation Kits funds project research and the Genographic Legacy Fund, which awards grants to support community-led cultural conservation and revitalization initiatives among indigenous and traditional communities around the world. So far, the Genographic Project has provided 62 Legacy Fund grants worth $1.7 million. Efforts supported by the grants include the creation of teaching materials on the ancient wisdom of the Chuj in a Maya community in Guatemala and the revitalization of indigenous languages in Nepal, India, Taiwan, French Polynesia, Mexico and Bolivia.

‘GenoThreads’ Connects Students, Teachers
A new education program called GenoThreads enables science, culture and geography to be naturally woven into a shared educational experience. GenoThreads connects students and teachers around the world who are using Genographic participation kits; this allows a cross-cultural exchange between students via email and videoconference for a truly global experience. In the first GenoThreads project, high school students in Switzerland are sharing their results with those halfway across the world in Singapore.

Members of the public are encouraged to visit the Genographic Project’s newly created website at www.genographic.com. Featuring National Geographic photography, the website gives Genographic participants the opportunity to learn more about their own ancestry and find ancestral connections. The Genographic Project remains nonmedical and nonprofit, and all analysis results are placed in the public domain following scientific publication. The Genographic Project serves as an unprecedented resource for geneticists, historians, anthropologists and citizen scientists.

Visit the Genographic Project’s website: www.genographic.com.

5 Dec 2012 Press Release courtesy of National Geographic Society.

17 November 2012

Family Tree DNA’s 8th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy, Day 2

Houston, Sunday, 11 Nov 2012

The last day always seems to come so quickly.  There never seems a great deal of time to chat with fellow genealogists so getting to bed late and up early does keep some of us non-morning people dragging a bit!   But the excitement of the day is as good as a cup of coffee!

Alice Fairhurst
Sunday morning was our usual International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) meeting.  Alice Fairhurst spoke on the ISOGG Y-DNA tree which started in 2006.  There are now over 2,000 SNPs on the  tree.  The first few years there were 25-30 updates per year; last year over 100.  There are already 73 updates this year so far and that number is that low only because the team clustered some of the updates.  Many people in many countries are involved in helping, but they could use more.  They need help in Q and some other areas.  Due to Geno 2.0 ISOGG tree is going to a stronger database, but will remain the same through December 2012.  The next tree may not be ready in January, however.  Although there is a conversion chart, the new tree will only use terminal SNPs.  Some R1b sub-clades are over 20 letters and numbers, and with Geno they will be much too long.  This ISOGG tree is used by geneticists around the world.
Dr. Brian Swann
Brian Swann from England gave great information and encouragement in his presentation suggesting that people with British genealogy learn how British records work and use them to find probable testers and reconstitute the families.  He stressed checking the 1881 census, the 2055-2006 Birth, Marriage, and Death records now online, and checking for your surname through the Guild of One Name Studies. There are online databases for the UK from 1837-1841 could be a good resource, as well.  Debbie Kennett’s new book Origins of British Surnames can be helpful. Facebook can also be a good source for current contacts.  Join the local family history societies in areas of interest in Britain. Dr. Swann urged that as half the people in Britain who have children do not marry, now is the time to start the reconstruction as it will be more difficult in the future.

Dr. Doron Behar
Dr. Doron Behar spoke on the mtCommunity, referring to his paper:  A Copernican Reassessment of the Human mtDNA Tree from its Roots.   He states that about 16,000 mtDNA sequences on NCBI’s  (National Center for Biotechnology Information) GenBank are from Family Tree DNA customers.  He explained that Chimps are not our ancestor, but when through 6,000 years of evolution and are our contemporaries.  Neanderthals were extinct only 30,000 years ago.  Some of our species interacted with the Neanderthals, we did not evolve from them.  Mankind did not evolve as you see in many online posters.  Dr. Behar’s paper clearly shows that using the rCRS (Revised Cambridge Reference System) gives a skewed vision as more western Europeans have fewer mutations than those of other world areas.  With his paper reconstructing the mtDNA comparison starting with the root and adding such populations as the Neanderthal, we see that there are now fewer mutations for those populations closer to the root and more mutations for those farther from the root which is much more logical.  This new method is termed RSRS (Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence).  With the RSRS, all contemporary mtDNA shows approximately the same number mutations from the root…again, more logical. This change has no effect on the mtDNA tree topology or haplogroup labels.  It will only add or subtract to the number of mutational differences when compared to the root mtDNA.
See the mtDNACommunity website which has over 13,700 full mtDNA sequences so far and is a centralized database allowing sequences to be posted for scientists.  You can add yours.  It is free to all testers from all communities, but only uses complete mtDNA sequences; the full mitochondrial tests.  Each sequence not from FTDNA will be verified for accuracy before uploading.  You will be asked if you want to upload to NCBI so check the option if you do, and FTDNA will upload for you.  If you have already uploaded to NCBI do not do it a second time so you are not duplicated.  You can send your CBI to FTDNA to check. Once you upload your NCBI submission number will be on your profile page.

Dr. Michael Hammer
Bonnie Schrack
Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona presented the most exciting news of the conference!  Dr. Hammer’s presentation was entitled A highly Divergent Y Chromosome Lineage; Implications for Human Evolution and the Y Chromosome Tree.  Bonnie Schrack, citizen scientist, gave us the back story and suggested that haplotypes that do not fit into the main groups can be gold, and that rare haplotypes can identify new clades.  She found three people in her Y-DNA Haplogroup A project who did not have any designated haplogroup.  After consulting some papers by Cruciani (2011) and Batini (2011), the decision was made to do a Walk The Y (WTY) for one of the members living in Georgia.  More than 40 new SNPs were found with this test, setting a new record.  It also included 32 SNPs discovered by Cruciani in is A1b sample.  A second WTY was done with another member of  her project in Maryland.  For this tester about 24 new SNPs were found, but he shared 18 of Cruciani’s SNPs and 19 of the SNPs found in the tester from Georgia, and 22 new SNPs for his branch.  A third WTY, a candidate from South Carolina, tested negative for all the SNPs previously tested in the other two  testers.
     At this point, Dr. Michael Hammer was brought into the picture.  Over 50 SNPs were derived from this South Carolina sample and about 30 which are ancestral and derived from all other human Y lineages.  Dr. Hammer had seven SNPs matching the WTY testers and these were found in a small section of Western Cameroon.  These new results put the Chimp and Gorilla very distant to modern humans.  Hammer stated that the South Carolina tester who now has a haplogroup of A00 (currently the oldest haplogroup) is 500 years from his Cameroonian A00 cousin, and that the Atlantic slave trade brought his ancestor to the US. This discovery predates the origin of modern human fossils, and this tester’s line could be an archaic population.   Two fossils found at Iwo Eleru (in nearby Nigeria) dated ~13,000 years ago showed archaic features.
Dr. Thomas Krahn
     Dr. Thomas Krahn shared the story of the discovery as he worked with his wife Astrid to see if each newly found SNP had been previously discovered.  After working all day and night, at 4 a.m. they realized they had new haplogroups.  By 6 a.m. they were done checking all the new SNPs.  As a result we no longer have just Haplogroup A, thought to be 60,000 years ago, but we have two haplgroups which came before A, namely A0 and A00.  The A00 haplogroup lived ~338,000 years ago, but could range anywhere between 246,000- 563,000 years ago.  Regardless, this is an astounding find and to know that one of our FTDNA administrators, Bonnie Schrack, was instrumental in calling this to the attention of the geneticists is an outstanding example of the value of citizen scientists.  Several people throughout the world contributed to the cost of WTY tests and were thanked by Bonnie.  This find is truly an important moment in history!

Elise Friedman
Yesterday’s Breakout Groups were repeated today to allow people to attend at least two. I attended Elise Friedman’s group entitled Advanced Group Administration Techniques as a review and to see if there was information new to me.  Without seeing the pages here it would be difficult to describe various aspects.  I suggest that everyone take the Interactive Tour, read the FAQs, click on the FTQL (Family Tree Query Language for compound searches) and the Help icon found on all pages.

A few basics she covered:  
1.  Go to MY ACCOUNT and click on SETTINGS. Check the boxes you want shown on the left.  DISPLAY SETTINGS on the right control what you see.  The bottom of MY SETTINGS has settings for different report pages.
2.  You can create a different email address for each project if you have more than one.  Just add your email address on the CONTACT PAGE and select one for default.
3.  Important:  Go to PROJECT ADMINISTRATION and then click on MANAGING PROJECT.  Fill in the blanks, but click on SHOW SURNAME even if your project isn’t a surname project.  This way it is shown in the list of projects.
4. If you use counters or other logos or icons, put those under JAVASCRIPT.
5.  You can also click on the results page and move members from one subgroup to another, but only in the regular results; not in classic or color.
5.  On the results page you can highlight one line.  I asked for 2-3 to be highlighted and maybe in different colors.  This, in my opinion will help with comparing.
6.  ACTIVITY LOG is new and shows changes in your projects.
7.  It is very important to read the Project Administrators Guidelines and adhere to them.

Rory Van Tuyl’s presentation entitled A Tale of Two Families – Findings from the FTDNA Surname Project Van Tuyl showed how he used Monte Carol simulation and the Walsh Infinite Alleles Theory to show that there was no constant mutation rate.  He suggests that using similarities rather than differences is a powerful analytical technique and not to try to estimate TMRCA from Y-STR data.

Elliott Greenspan
Elliott Greenspan’s presentation entitled IT Road Map covered the accomplishments of this last year and the goals for the coming year. In 2010 FTDNA processed 250 terabytes and in 2011 they processed 2.33 Petabytes of matching data. The latter translates into 16.8 million segments.  This is 50 times more data than last year.  FTDNA has run over 5 million individual tests of all types over the years. The General Fund Invoice Payment was added along with SNP Maps and 23andMe uploads.  As previously mentioned in this blog, FTDNA will allow uploads of Ancestry’s data as soon as it is available.  The “about me” section of the Personal Profile was added and is view-able by your matches when they click on your profile.  Advanced Matches was added in order to compare two different tests at the same time.

The coming year’s goals are quite extensive and very welcomed:
1.  FTDNA will go to Build 37 which is GRAND!
2.  Microalleles will be coming on GAP charts.
3.  Palindromic matches will be added in DYS 459,464 and CDY which will appear as one mutation as they are one event.
4.  New mtDNA haplogroups will see some changes when Geno 2.0 begins getting results.
5.  As the home page causes confusion for new members, the pages will be updated probably in December with items people have not done such as uploading a Gedcom being highlighted.
6.  More badges like Niall of the Nine Hostages will be available.
7.  Uploaded Gedcoms will be searchable and allow for direct input of data.
8.  FTDNA will upgrade Population Finder by adding more populations more often and will have chromosome painting.
9.  FTDNA will have X chromosome matching and browser, but will be different than that of Family Finder as it is inherited differently.
10.  You will be able to select five matches and push to your chromosome browser page.
11. There will be more filter options so you can filter by blocks in Chromosome Browser to see all matches on that block.  Blocks must be at least 4cM and start and end in the same block.
12.  Restrictions on “In Common With” will be removed.
13.  Many of us have asked for phasing over the last couple of years and is it coming!  YEAH!!!  There will be two types of phasing depending upon the availability of testing parents.
14.  Various apps for androids, iPhones, etc. will be added.
15.  FTDNA developers plan to work with a group of customers with tech skills…a developer sandbox.
16.  FTDNA will remove the five person limit for Family Finder downloads so all can be downloaded at one time into CVS or Excel files.  EVERYONE clapped!

What a wonderful list for the coming year!

FTDNA cautioned against using Gedmatch as it shows your matches names.  FTDNA cannot control customers who do this, but feel it could come back to bite you and can cause outside regulation.  They suggested we do not take cM blocks seriously without other supporting information.  They were firm about data mining not being available because of security and people who “connect the dots.”  FTDNA is not planning to drop the 12 and 25 marker test so that those who need to start small can do so.

AND…at the end of the conference FTDNA announced its Holiday Sale earlier than expected.  See my previous post for the sale items and prices.  The sale ends 31 December 2012 and is a great opportunity to upgrade, to add new tests, or to become a first-time tester with the largest genetic genealogy company!

On Monday, FTDNA offered three tours of their “state of the art” lab in Houston.  The equipment automation is amazing, and seeing the process to get our DNA results is fascinating.  The weekly cost of some of the disposable items is astounding!  It is clear why the time and cost we incur is what it is.

No doubt I omitted some information from this lengthy blog.  For that reason, I suggest you also read Roberta J. Estes’ blog DNAeXplained.

Can anyone doubt that history isn't being made on the monumental level?  

16 Nov 2012

16 November 2012

Family Tree DNA’s 8th International Conference on Genetic Genealogy

Dateline: Houston Texas, 10-11 November 2012

Although we make history daily, only at monumental times do we realize it.  This year at the Family Tree DNA Conference, every one realized the history being made.

As usual on Friday, FTDNA provided a large room with a no-host bar where everyone rekindled old friendships and met new attendees.  We could register during this time or Saturday morning.  Our registration packet included a nice FTDNA carry bag, a conference logo T-shirt, pen, and Richard Hill’s new book Finding Family My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA.  I reviewed this book earlier on this blog.  It is an excellent book for genetic genealogists, adoptees, and for the general public.  A must read!

Bennett Greenspan
In Bennett Greenspan’s welcome gave us a bit of the company’s history.  They were the first to offer DNA testing for genealogy in 2000 after Bennett dogged Dr. Michael Hammer into doing a 12 marker test on him and Dr. Hammer suggested that someone needed to start a company as people kept asking him about testing for genealogy.  Bennett also informed us that his corporation had been reorganized a bit and is now is called Gene by Gene which has under it several companies:  Family Tree DNA for Ancestry, DNA Traits for Health, DNADTC for Research, and DNAFindings for Paternity.  I spoke of monumental times in history...here’s one:  The DNADTC division is the first commercial company to offer a full genome sequence test!  The price is $5495, but we know that will be lower in a few years.  For the Exome, your 20,000 genes, the cost is $695.  This is remarkable as it is a genetic genealogy company making this available to the public first and the entire genome was only sequenced in 2003 at the cost of 3 billion dollars.  We have come a long way and are moving quickly!       Congratulations to FTDNA for another first!
Other statistics for Family Tree DNA is that have purchased 1.5 million vials for testing since conception; they are processing 500 samples a day and sometimes through the weekend; is involved in Next-Generation Sequencing; will have easier to open vials; and have new automated machines to remove tedious tasks for workers.

Dr. Spencer Wells
Dr. Spencer Wells who heads the National Genographic Project talk with the group via Skype from Florence Italy where he was introducing the Geno 2.0 test which has sections on “Your Story”, “Our Story”, and “The Human Story”.  He mentioned that “Genetic genealogy is changing hyper-exponentially”.  His presentation gave an overview of the AIMs chip and how it was vetted as well as a view of the website which is still evolving.  The goals include determining more population details for those who are labeled 100% of a certain population, especially including Native American and differentiating between Native American and Asian. See my review of Geno 2.0 on this blog. Watch for a paper on Genographic about repopulating the Middle East.
One of the most exciting features of Geno 2.0 is that citizen scientists can conduct a “community led events”.  If you have a group, such as the Mennonites or other particular cultural group, you could apply to Genographic for conducting a study under the community led event.  Dr. Wells would not indicate how many kits have been sold so far as this is still the initial release (soft launch), but mentioned that significantly more than 10k kits have been sold and significantly less than 100k.

Judy Russell, JD, CGSM
Next was Judy Russell, the Legal Genealogist, is a genealogist with a law degree.   Her topic was Regulating Genetic Genealogy - Does It Make Sense?   Of all the presenters we have had in the past to speak to ethical questions and problems in this field, Judy delivered the most clear and most reasonable argument for regulating ourselves, for placing disclaimers on our project sites, for not misrepresenting our field, and she encouraged us to do all this so we would not be regulated by any government arm.  Judy tells us that the FDA is not interested in genetic genealogy, but in disease risk.  The Federal Trade Commission is concerned for “truth in advertising”…is what is promised being delivered?  She states that we need to rein in the charlatans as those are the ones who will cause regulation.  She clarified that AncestryDNA can give your DNA to anyone they contract or companies who buy them out; no warranties. Of 23andMe she states that the company will still use your surveys and genetic info even if you drop them and they do not need your consent on using it for publication.  Russell says that signing over your DNA for any company to use can come under FDA interest. She says FTDNA does not have these issues at all.  You must sign a release form for sharing your name and email with your matches.  Check the contracts before you test.
Judy Russell recommends we check the disclosure on the Melungeon Core project at FTDNA as it is a good example of disclosure and have something similar for all of our projects.
GINA (Genetic Information and Non-discrimination Act of 2008) is very limited and broad in protecting us with regard to DNA testing.  It only covers employment and health care.  It does not apply to life insurance, disability insurance, and long-term care.
Some DNA companies (ex: Connect DNA) uses CODIS values and even suggests you put your results on Facebook!  Some states arrest for misdemeanors which put your DNA in CODIS and some states now use familiar DNA such as in the Grim Sleeper case.  The UK uses familial DNA.
Other tips she shared:  Do NOT sign release forms for others; don’t test someone without their consent.  If caught, this will cause regulation by the government.  Remember that any piece of legislation can be repealed or modified.  Testing your whole genome and disclosing it discloses information for your relatives who have not given consent.  In summary:  Make ethical decisions, respect privacy of others; do informed consent; and educate the public regarding DNA testing. The bottom line is:  If we don’t make better decisions, others will do it for us.
Question to Judy on testing dead relatives who had a previous test prompted the answer that if there is a child, you are not the heir to decide further testing.  (FTDNA does have a page which allows a beneficiary for your DNA, but that email must be updated. There are forms which can be signed by a notary before a tester dies to give permission to someone to manage their DNA. Email me for a copy.)
       I had the opportunity of speaking with her at the ISOGG gathering Saturday night and she is a commonsense and knowledgeable person.  Such a delight!

Dr. Thomas Krahn
Three break-out groups were available covering information on the Advanced Group Administrators Techniques by Elise Friedman of Relative Roots (more on Elise's presentation tomorrow), on Family Finder by CeCe Moore, and Walk the Y Update by Dr. Thomas Krahn of Family Tree DNA.  All were very informative, of course.

Dr. Tim Janzen
CeCe Moore covered the basics of autosomal testing starting with cell structure and walked through several of the pages showing how to download data from the Chromosome Browser.  She mentioned to calculate the shared percentage of your genome divide the total cMs by 68.  See FTDNA’s FAQ on Family Finder for great information as well as taking the tutorial on your personal website.   The most exciting part of the presentation was from Rob Warthen who has a tool to download all your Family Finder matches at once, something many of us have strived to have FTDNA do (and they did decide to do so!).  CeCe covered what many of us are now doing on testing various family members and mapping our chromosomes to determine what segments come from what ancestor as was presented by Dr. Tim Janzen.
     Dr. Krahn mentioned that no one from haplogroups B, D, M, and S have done Walk The Y and they would really like to get someone from each.  There have been 494 WTY participants and only 198 did not find a new SNP.  Some of these presentations will be available at FTDNA, perhaps all.

Dr. Tyrone Bowes
Dr. Tyrone Bowes of Irish Origenes spoke on Pinpointing a Geographical Location.  His company has detailed maps on Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England.  He suggests that you can use low-level matches (12 and 25 markers) to see where those names lived in one of these countries and narrow the locations to what is most likely.  Check all spellings and locations from castles to clan mapping as place names may reflect early inhabitants and areas where people were when they picked surnames. Once a chief of a clan is gone, people could take a new surname.  Townlands lead to surnames. Know the history.  He does consulting on this in his business.

In the Question and Answer period included these:  
1.  Drugs, alcohol, radiation, etc. are more likely to cause a null (no marker results) than a different allele.  Blood transfusions would require you to wait weeks to test UNLESS you are VERY careful in scraping to not get any blood on the swab.  It’s really safer to wait.
2.  If you have few or no matches it is probably a coincidence so wait until the database grows.  The database does have gaps as you can’t get DNA out of some countries, such as China.  DNA has been sent surreptitiously from Russia so that is another area of concern.
3.  When Geno 2.0 is eventually offered through FTDNA for existing samples to be used, there needs to be an unopened vial.
4.  Geno 2.0 is the closest thing to the full genome (for now), but does not have as high resolution ad would not show private mutations.
5.  Niall of the Nine Hostages has four sub-groups and Geno may show which is the dominate line
6.  FTDNA is going to Build 37 in the next two months or so which adds 3-4,000 new SNPs in the Family Finder chip and the X-chromosome browser is coming.
7.  FTDNA has 500,000 vials in storage currently, and transfers from other companies are going great.
8.  FTDNA anticipates uploading Ancestry raw autosomal data when Ancestry allows customers to download their raw data.
9.  In the next version, Palendromic matches will be counted as one mutation event as it actually happens as one event.

Sunday's presentations and historical news will follow...

16 Nov 2012

13 November 2012

Family Tree DNA's Holiday Sale

As I just returned from the 8th Family Tree DNA International Conference in Houston, I am probably one of the last to post the Holiday Sale.  At the end of the last day the following was announced and Monday morning every tester received an email.  However, as may of these tests are for new testers, it is up to all of us to spread the news!  And wonderful news it is.  These are some very nice savings!

You can order a test by clicking on the FTDNA icon in the lower right of this blog.  If you are ordering an upgrade just login with your kit number and password.  If you are new to testing with Family Tree DNA, you can search for your surname on the home page or you can join one of my projects that accepts any tester (male and female) by entering GFO in the search engine on the home page.  Even though you are in one of my projects and you can then receive help from me, you can join other projects once you get results.

Watch this blog later this week for news of the conference.

New Kits..................................Current Price.......SALE PRICE 
Y-DNA 37......................................$169.....................$119
Y-DNA 67......................................$268.....................$199
mtFullSequence (FMS).....................$299....................$199
.. (Y-DNA 67 and FMS)....................$548.....................$398

Family Finder..................................$289...................$199
Family Finder + mtDNAPlus..............$438...................$318
Family Finder + mtFullSequence.......$559...................$398
Family Finder + Y-DNA 37................$438...................$318
Comprehensive (FF + FMS + Y-67)...$837...................$597

Upgrades.....................Current Price........SALE PRICE 
Y-Refine 12-25 Marker.......$59......................$35
Y-Refine 12-37 Marker.......$109....................$69
Y-Refine 12-67 Marker.......$199....................$148
Y-Refine 25-37 Marker.......$59......................$35
Y-Refine 25-67 Marker.......$159....................$114
Y-Refine 37-67 Marker.......$109....................$79
Y-Refine 37-111 Marker.....$220....................$188
Y-Refine 67-111 Marker.....$129....................$109
mtFullSequence Add-on.....$289....................$199

To order this special offer, log in to your personal page and click on the Order An Upgrade button in the upper right corner. A link to the login page is provided below. ALL ORDERS MUST BE PLACED AND PAID FOR BY MONDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2012 11:59:00 PM CST TO RECEIVE THE SALE PRICES.

Don't miss this great sale!

13 Nov 2012

07 November 2012

Talley-Tally-Tolley Gathering October 3-4, 2012

Don't Tally; Just Rally.  And that's just what we did!

Many people hold family reunions over the summer months.  Few, if any, hold such a gathering for their Y-DNA projects.  I did for the Talley-Tally Y-DNA Project.

The idea of a Talley-Tally-Tolley Gathering began over a year ago in conjunction with the establishment of a new sources website and the death of one of our researchers.

I operate an e-mail list for anyone interested in researching or who has tested for the surname, any spelling.  This is a one-way email from me to the group which notifies list members when a new candidate has tested, when test results have appeared, when there are sales on testing, and other information related to DNA testing.  On this e-mail list we share lineages for the testers with the details of birth, death, marriage and spouses.  We do not share current information or maiden names of mothers whose children are living as that can be used for financial records.  Creating such a list builds provides multiple contacts for research and builds a bond within the group.

When one of our Talley researchers died and left piles of papers for us to sort, three local members of our e-mail list gathered to divide the work.  One of our sorters, Lorraine, suggested putting Talley-Tally information on site accessible to group members.  I had been considering such a plan, but this was the first time I discussed having a site where the testers’ lineages and the sources for each generation could be displayed and where additional, hard-to-find records could be stored.  I was greatly encouraged to establish this site and the work began.

I found the perfect volunteer, Gene Talley of Texas, who helped me research every one of our testers and without whom this sources site would not have existed.  He created some wonderful flow charts which show connections to a common ancestor where known.  This work took countless hours and over a year and a half to complete, but we were able to justify some lineages as they were sent to me, add up to three generations to some, and reduce a few generations that were not solidly proven or were wrong.  For the latter we wrote a page or two providing circumstantial evidence of parenthood. The goal was to find good sources for the father-son relationship in the lineage along with the birth, marriage, and death for the direct Talley-Tally-Tolley line.  Of course, like all projects, there were a few people who did not share their lineage or who have died without sharing.  Overall, the vast majority of our testers’ lines are proven with good sources and now on the new website.

The Gathering
During all this, I began planning for a Talley DNA “Reunion”.  Anyone who had tested, who researches the surname, or anyone our members could drag off the street with a connection to the surname were welcomed.

William H. Talley III

One of our members, Bill Talley III, suggested we meet at the local country club in Petersburg, Virginia as the room was free to us and as this area is one of the major locations where our Talley and Tallys first lived.  It was decided that we would meet for two days and for the third everyone could explore the area or visit various family locations or research libraries.

George M. Talley, Sr.'s Miniatures
Karen Talley
Our gathering included all the elements of a DNA conference and a reunion.  I created several presentations to explain the various DNA tests, our new sources website, triangulation, quality research, and others.  Attendees brought posters to show-case their family as well as gifts for a raffle. George M. Talley showcased his amazing, hand-made miniature furniture which has moving parts including drawers that open.  Our wonderful activities chair, Karen Talley, and I acquired additional raffle items from various vendors valuing up to $150 for the top item.  The money earned from the raffle was split between those groups in attendance to further test their lines. Each person also received a "goody bag" with several flyers on local sites, discount coupons on Talley Vineyard wines and DNA tests, copies of Family Chronicle and Internet Genealogy, a mouse pad designed specifically for our gathering, and pens and pencils with Talley-Tally-Tolley Gathering printed on them.

Deceased Testers
Time was given in the agenda to recognize those testers who had died, and Karen compiled very nice poster which included each person's DNA Group number, dates of birth and death, a photo, and their oldest Talley-Tally ancestor.
Larry McMahan

Larry McMahan, volunteer at the Jefferson Library and husband of Sue Talley McMahan and Karen's uncle, was our guest speaker for dinner Wednesday night.  His wonderful presentation entitled Thomas Jefferson’s World and his video gave much insight into Mr. Jefferson’s life at Monticello.

Group 02 Workshop
As the new sources website with the testers' lineages was complete (more sources records will be added in the future), I provided room in the agenda to hold a couple of workshops so the members of each DNA group could work together to further the lineage and the DNA testing.  Each person shared their contact information as well as their online and local resources. The groups were asked to view the lineages on the new sources website and determine what information is missing and where further testing is needed.  Of course, not everyone in the group knows their proven common ancestor, but these workshops started a dialogue to help with that goal.  Each group chose a leader who will report progress to me so any updates can be added to the sources site. For those who could not attend, they have been given the same opportunity to share their resources and help with the research.

The gathering was held October 3-4 at the Petersburg Country Club in Virginia.  The two largest DNA groups had representatives which lead me to believe that the economic times and health situations prevented some of the smaller groups from coming.  I do know these issues were  the causes for some absences.  Those who came decided that since DNA Groups 1 and 2 of the project are very probably related in the mid-1600's they would work within their group as well as help the other group.

It was wonderful to meet so many cousins, and I’m sure they felt the same meeting each other.  It was grand to put faces on those names and e-mail addresses over these many years. I had known a few people through correspondence since the mid 1990’s, but had only met one before this gathering.  The humor and wit of many of the family members, the practicality of their decisions, and just being in the same room with so many cousins was a joy for me. Hopefully, they took away from that time something new in the way of DNA and researching as well as fond memories of their distant cousins.

Liz and Floyd Talley

I also have to thank the attendees for the kind recognition award they gave me.  I'm most proud that it was engraved by Performance Awards, a business owned by my genealogical cousin Floyd Talley.  Performance Awards is located at 17 S Wahsatch Ave, Colorado Springs, CO; phone: 719-635-3303

AND...someone even  asked when the next gathering would be….

Thanks to everyone who made this possible and for all of those who attended!

4 Nov 2012

....a few more photos from The Gathering...

Descendants of John of Amelia Co, VA

Robert and Hilda Nostrandt,
 Bill Talley, Jeanne Nostrandt
Cheryl Walter
Zane Talley and wife Helen

Frank Talley
Descendants of Nathan Talley

Nancy Hunt Marshall, Gerry Hunt,
and Shirley Smith

George M. Talley, wife of George Jr,
Al Talley, and Ruby Tally Smith
A.Gene Talley and wife Judy
James H. Talley    
Karen Talley, Beth Talley Hill
and husband Steve Hill

04 November 2012

Top Genetic Genealogy Bloggers

Genetic Genealogy has become a very popular pursuit among genealogists, and many are now blogging to help others understand DNA testing and to keep the public updated on this fast-paced field.

Recently Terry Barton suggested that each of us should post this list of the top blogs.  I'm very honored to be included and to be among such distinguished bloggers in this field.

As each of us has a different audience and a different focus, those interested, as well as the general public, would be wise to follow at least several, if not all, of these blogs. Although some  appear to be focused on a particular surname, each has great information on genetic genealogy in general.

These bloggers are well known in the field and most attend the Family Tree DNA Conference in Houston each year while a few attend the Who Do You Think You Are? Conference in London yearly.  This gives all of us the opportunity of knowing each other and highly recommending their work.

Steven Perkin's blog is On-line Journal of Genetics and Genealogy (since May 2004)
Emily Aulicino's blog is DNA - Genealem's Genetic Genealogy (since February 2007)
Blain Bettinger's blog is The Genetic Genealogist (since February 2007)
Debbie Cruwys Kennett's blog is Cruwys News (since April 2007)
Richard Hill's blog is DNA Testing Advisor (since 2008)
Terry Barton's blog is Terry's Blog  (since January 2009)
CeCe Moore's blog is Your Genetic Genealogist (since June 2010)
Steve StClair's blog is Sinclair DNA (since February 2011 on BlogTalkRadio)
Judy Russell's blog is The Legal Genealogist (since January 2012)
Roberta Estes' blog is DNAeXplained - Genetic Genealogy (since July 2012)

Thank you Terry for this wonderful idea  and for inspiring the rest of us to make the list available to our followers!

4 Nov 2012

23 September 2012

Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

By Richard Hill

We never know what our path in life will be and what will shape it.  Yes, biology and our general environment play enormous roles in our lives, but so do major events.  Parents who lose a child tragically often focus on helping others in similar situations.  A person whose sibling or child has a handicap may become a teacher for children with special needs.  Clearly, major events often shape our direction more profoundly than all else. 

As a young adult, Dick Hill learned in a unique and shocking way that he was adopted.  Not only did this new knowledge resulted in Dick finding his birth parents, siblings, and other family members, but he became a genealogist, a genetic genealogy administrator, a blogger, an advisor to adoptees, and an author.  No doubt, this is a path he would not have anticipated prior to his search for his family.

Dick’s book Finding Family:  My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA details the maze he traveled to find his birth parents.  His story takes many turns with years of false leads and dead-ends. These, plus the secrecy surrounding his conception and the few clues extracted from relatives makes this story a wonderful mystery and gives tribute to Dick’s strong desire to learn about his ancestors and his tenacity to see the task to completion. This book takes us on a thirty-one year journey through the ups and downs of determining his biological parents and finding his family.  It shares with us the joys of finding his first blood relative, of traveling great distances to meet his family, of bonding with his siblings, and in acquiring family photos of his birth parents.

Every genealogist knows that a paper trail is valuable when tracing our ancestors, and that a DNA test must accompany that paper for accuracy.  When Dick began his search, DNA testing for genealogy did not exist.  Often, timing can be everything, and as Dick put aside his search in order to have a career and to raise a family, he began his search again after hearing about how DNA can help.  Dick was able to rule out one possible father, but then five other possibilities surfaced, all brothers and most of who had ample opportunity to know his birth mother. 

However, in the early days, DNA testing was not as robust as it is now. Although Dick used the latest tests at the time, some results were not specific enough to be certain about who his biological father was among the brothers. He continued testing family members as the tests became more selective, until eventually his biological father was determined.

Dick states: “I’m a lucky man…Most people are only blessed with two parents.  I had four. Two of them created me form the DNA of my biological ancestors.  And the other two molded me into the person I am today.” (p. 223)

This book is a must-read for any adoptee, and for anyone working on their genealogy.  The sheer joy of seeing someone’s hard work pay off so successfully brings a big smile. Dick’s book also shows the researcher how to carefully check family lore and to dig deep to find the correct answers.  

Everyone should know their family, should know their past.  It centers us and helps us understand who we are.  Dick’s book FindingFamily:  My Search for Roots and the Secretsin My DNA is an important story that will touch everyone.

Order the book through Amazon.com

Dick Hill’s blog DNA-Testing-Adviser covers information on DNA testing and helps adoptees find their birth parents.   

30 August 2012

Ancestry.com and the DNA Business - Oil and Water?

I am beginning to think I have this title correct...

Oil being the slippery Ancestry.com, and their jumping into the Gene Pool is the water.

Obviously, whatever the analogy, the two are not mixing well, at all!

When Ancestry.com first tested Y-DNA there were errors in predicting haplogroups.  It was discovered that they did not do the proper SNP testing and were using some online guides to predicting a person's haplogroup or twig on the world family tree (Phylogenetic Tree).  I had several people in different audiences who told me of this delimma as well.  Two first cousins were predicted as R1b and G haplogroups.  Later testing determined they were indeed first cousins, but as any person, even those new to DNA, knows you have to have the same haplogroup to be closely related.

So, fast forward...Ancestry.com has decided it is in their best interest to offer autosomal testing.  Previously, I mentioned a few issues in this blog with their attempt to join the other companies in this field and the issues that have surfaced.

The following post from Debbie Kennett, with her kind permission, is an update on some of the problems. After reading her post, I urge all of you to read my criteria on choosing a genetic testing company.

I also might add that in my post for the 2012 WDYTYA (Who Do You Think You Are?) Conference in London, Ken Chahine was in the audience of a Family Tree DNA presentation....obviously he was there to learn like the others...or checking out the competition!  Too bad he didn't take better notes!

AncestryDNA's response to my request for my raw genetic data

As discussed in my previous blog post one of the major drawbacks of AncestryDNA's new autosomal DNA test is that they do not currently allow their customers access to their raw genetic data. Ken Chahine,the Senior Vice President and General Manager, DNA, at Ancestry.com has publicly stated at a meeting of the Presidential Committee for Bioethical Issues in Washington, D.C., his belief that "the customer retains ownership of their DNA and their data" [my italics]. Thegenetic genealogy blogger CeCe Moore has been told by John Pereira, the Vice President of Business Development at Ancestry.com, that Ancestry "are genuinely considering the best way to deliver this data to us". However, Ancestry are also taking into consideration the feedback from other customers and it appears that allowing customers access to their raw genetic data is not currently a priority.

Family Tree DNA and 23andMe, the other two companies that offer autosomal DNA tests for genetic genealogists, both allow their customers to download their DNA data files from their personal accounts. If Ancestry are intending to introduce such a feature it will inevitably take time to implement the necessary IT infrastructure. In the meantime I decided to contact Ancestry.com about the possibility of obtaining a copy of my autosomal DNA raw data file as it would surely be a simple matter for them to e-mail this file to me. I contacted Ancestry through their
CustomerServices Department. They replied very promptly apologising for the "frustration" regarding my raw DNA data. I was told that the "DNA project is still very new and in the beta testing stage. Our developers are currently in discussions regarding adding a feature that will allow members to download their DNA data." In the meantime Ancestry are encouraging members to send them feedback by clicking on the "Beta Send Feedback" button that appears in the top right corner of your DNA page. They advised me that their "developers are going through this feedback and basing a lot of their decisions on what we are hearing from our members".

However, Ancestry did not reply to my question about receiving my genetic data so I replied asking once more if they could send me my file. They again replied very promptly but I was told "Currently we are unable to send you a file with your raw DNA data. We apologize for any frustration this issue may have caused and appreciate your feedback. We have forwarded your message on to our feedback department." I was also given a telephone number in the US that I could ring, but as I am in the UK a transatlantic telephone call is not a realistic proposition. Ancestry do have a UK telephone number but as their DNA test is not being actively marketed in the UK, I do not imagine that I will be able to get any answers from them.

I can appreciate that logistically it might be difficult for Ancestry's customer services reps to arrange for customers to receive data files as the files are probably held elsewhere. It is, however, very disappointing that they are unable to fulfil their promise and I hope the issue will be addressed as soon as possible. I cannot recommend anyone testing at AncestryDNA for the present unless and until this problem is fixed.

As AncestryDNA clearly do not think that allowing customers access to their own genetic data is a top priority I would urge everyone who has tested with them to submit feedback requesting access to their personal raw data files. Ancestry do not appear to be replying to comments that are submitted through the Feedback button. A question I submitted last week asking for information about the British reference populations used for their admixture predictions has not been answered. I would therefore suggest that, in addition to submitting feedback, everyone also writes to
Customer Services asking for a copy of their raw genetic data file. If enough requests are received then perhaps Ancestry might consider implementing this basic and essential feature.

A DNA project administrator in the US who is on the
ISOGG project adminsmailing list has advised that he has received good support when talking to Ancestry on the phone. If anyone in the US is able to ring Ancestry I would be very interested to hear what they have to say about this issue.

© 2012 Debbie Kennett

 AND, besides Debbie's blog, please read Roberta J. Estes' blog DNA Explain for her post entitled:  Is History Repeating Itself at Ancestry?  Roberta's blog is very much to the point referring to quesitonable ethics, and the issues with Sorenson, GeneTree, Relative Geneics and Ancestry (who still doesn't do SNP testing).  She hits all the points that are troubling those of us in the Genetic Genealogy world.  She writes about how Ancestry boldly lied to the blogger who discovered an adoption-sibling error, and how they failed to tell testers that they must have a subscription to Ancestry to see their matches in the future.  There is so much more.
Roberta's blog is a MUST READ!
Since Ancestry is still not doing SNP testing, it appears they never learned from their first attempt at playing in the gene pool.  Well, there is the shallow end for the babies who haven't learned to swim, and from Ancestry's past history, they may never get to play with the big boys if quality is involved!
As genealogists you want to do quality reesarch, and you want the same quality in DNA testing. 
Choose wisely!
30 Aug 2012