As I mentioned back in June,Â Ancestry.com has teamed up with Sorenson Genomics to offer DNA testing.Â Today I received the following notification announcing the beta launch of dnaancestry.com.Â A Y-DNA test with 33 markers will be $149, while a Y-DNA test with 46 markers will be $199 (if you look at the sample results page, you’ll see a list of the 46 markers tested).Â An mtDNA test will be $179, although the exact testing parameters for the mtDNA test are unclear at this point (the website only states that HVR1 and HVR2 will be sequenced).
Introducing DNA Ancestry
We want you to be one of the first to know weâ€™re adding a powerful new dimension to genealogical research by integrating the worldâ€™s largest online collection of historical records and family trees with DNA testing. Currently in beta, DNA Ancestry is another way weâ€™re helping people expand their family trees and connect with family across distance and time.
Yesterday we saw that many funeral directors offer DNA retrieval and storage as one of their services.Today, weâ€™ll look into the WHY of DNA storage, and bring up some of the ethical questions it raises.
Why store DNA from the recently deceased?
Undoubtedly, someone who has never heard of DNA retrieval and storage will probably ask WHY we should store a dead relativeâ€™s DNA.
The reason most commonly quoted is that the DNA can be used in the future to identify inherited traits such as genetic disorders and other phenotypic characteristics.In 2006, the New England Historic Genealogical Society published an article by Edwin M. Knights, M.D. entitled â€œDNA Banking for Medical Information.â€In the article, Dr. Knights gives a number of reasons for banking DNA from both living and deceased individuals, many of which he gleaned from the Human Genetic Society of Australasia.He states:
The field of genomics is exploding.Every day, the mysteries of our genome are revealed and we learn more and more about the power of DNA.Soon, with affordable whole-genome sequencing, we will be able to analyze our own personal genome for clues about our ancestry, our propensity for disease, and insight into our body and our personality.In fact, this is already well underway.
Undoubtedly, each of us will be faced with a decision in our lifetime – do we want to learn the secrets of our genome, or do we want to live without that knowledge, as all of our ancestors have done for millions of years.This decision is a personal one, and at this point I donâ€™t think thereâ€™s any right or wrong answer.
But what about those who are unable to make that decision?For example, an infant is unable to give consent for genetic testing, but many states in the USroutinely test newborns for genetic disorders.Today and tomorrow we will be examining another group of individuals who are not able to consent to genetic testing â€“ the recently deceased.
A study in the September Journal of Field Archaeology analyzes mtDNA that was isolated from Native American aprons and from quids – chewed plant material.Â From an article in science:
“The quids and aprons belonged to a vanished tribe that archaeologists call the Western Basketmakers. Between about 500 B.C.E. and 500 C.E., they lived in caves and rock shelters in what is now southern Utah and northern Arizona.”
“They pulled mitochondrial DNA from 48 quids and from 18 aprons that had been stained with what was likely menstrual blood. Then they scanned the DNA for various molecular markers called haplogroups, which appear in different frequencies in different parts of the world.”
The researchers discovered that 14% of the samples belonged to Haplogroup A.Â They also point out that museum and university collections have many sources of Native American DNA (such as quids, textiles, and cigarettes).
I just learned at the PCD Foundation Blog that a “hold” has been placed upon GINA in the Senate.Â The bill flew through the House of Representatives, and President Bush has said that he would sign the bill into law, but it is now stuck in the Senate.Â Senator Tom Coburn, M.D., A Republican from Oklahoma, has placed the Hold on the bill.Â According to Senator Coburn’s Wikipedia article:
“According to the Boston Globe, Tom Coburn has blocked passage of the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA), a bill that would prevent health insurers and employers from using genetic information in decisions of employment or insurability. Senator Coburn objected to provisions in the bill that allow discrimination based on genetic information from embryos and fetuses. Recently, the Boston Globe stated that the embryo loophole has been closed, and that Tom Coburn is reevaluating his opposition to the bill.”
Some interesting news in the field of personal genomics:
A terrific article by David Hamilton at VentureBeat Life Sciences about Navigenetics, a new competitor for personal genomics business.Â However, Navigenetics has stated that rather than being a direct competitor to 23andMe, the companies can compliement each other.Â According to the article:
The results of a Y-DNA test are either a string of plusses and minuses, or a series of numbers.The plusses and minuses are the result of a SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) test and denote the testeeâ€™s Haplogroup, while the string of numbers are the result of a STR (short tandem repeat) test and denote the testeeâ€™s haplotype.
To learn more oneâ€™s haplotype, or to compare it to otherâ€™s results, most people enter those results into a database such as Ysearch, Ybase, SMGF, YHRD, or the Y-STR Database.To do this, however, it is sometimes necessary to â€˜normalizeâ€™ the numbers.For instance, one testing company might find a result of 27 for DYS481 while another finds a result of 23 on the same individual.This is typically due to different sequencing primers used by each company to characterize each particular STR.
Dogs, just like humans, have interesting genealogical histories.And a new DNA test unveiled by DNAPrint Genomics will help you examine your dogâ€™s genetic past.The test is aimed at uncovering the relative percentages of four ancient ancestral breeds in a modern dog â€“ wolf-like, herders, hunters, and mastiff.The test, which will retail for $99, examines 204 canine Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) in the dog genome.For more information, go to www.doggiednaprint.com (not working as of 08/18).
â€œThe test will contain a consent form, mouth swabs, swab envelope, as well as a return envelope.Simply fill out the consent form, follow the step-by-step cheek swab instructions and send the completed consent forms and test swabs in the enclosed return envelope. Within six to nine weeks, participants will receive the results of their dog’s DNA test. These will include raw genetic data, a graphic depiction of the animal’s DNA plus information on how to interpret the results of this DNA test.â€
An article in today’s New York Times discusses some of the major players in genealogy, including the Generations Network, a brief mention of DNA testing, and the Family History Library in Utah.
Although the article, “Latest Genealogy Tools Create a Need to Know” is hardly groundbreaking or thorough, it might be interesting to those who are new to genealogy.