1.Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists.
Wrong!If youâ€™ve ever wondered about the origins of your DNA, or about your direct paternal or maternal ancestral line, then genetic genealogy might be an interesting way to learn more.Although DNA testing of a single line, such as through an mtDNA test, will only examine one ancestor out of 1024 potential ancestors at 10 generations ago, this is a 100% improvement over 0 ancestors out of 1024.If you add your fatherâ€™s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement.Now add your motherâ€™s mtDNA, and so on.However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:
2.Iâ€™m going to send in my DNA sample and get back my entire family tree.
Last week there were a couple of other articles in the news about genetic genealogy:
1. Newsweek.com – “Shaking the Family Tree with Recreational Genetics.” The article is largely in response to last week’s article in Science (see my previous coverage). There are a number of interesting comments following the Newsweek article – I would recommend browsing through them if you have the time.
2. The Courier-Journal – “DNA Discovery.” The article is mostly about Oxford Ancestors.
As I mentioned earlier today, GeneTree has been redesigned, and actually launched this morning. There is a FAQ page, and a new blog. There’s also an extensive Press Room, with logos and screen shots – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
So what is GeneTree? According to the FAQ:
“GeneTree is a family history sharing site created to help people everywhere understand how their personal stories belong within the framework of the greater human genetic story â€“ by discovering their genetic heritage and identity, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and perspective through personal stories, photos, video and documents.”
I’m sure there will be a lot of media coverage today and over the course of the week, but here is an article at Computerworld. Following is the official press release:
At the 2007 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August, Alex Haley, the nephew of the Chris Haley – the author of “Roots”, joined the many people who have tested their DNA for ancestral information.Â It turns out that his Y-DNA is of European origin.
There’s a post at Megan’s Roots World, a news report at KUTV.com, and the video of Alex swabbing his cheeks for DNA from Roots Television:
The article at KUTV also contains what MUST be a mistake:
“Next week, The Sorenson Cos. plans to roll out a separate DNA-based Web site called jeantree.com. Chief Executive James L. Sorenson declined to discuss details Tuesday, although it will rely on a larger DNA database.”
Either Sorenson is planning to sell denim-related products, or the journalist misunderstood “Genetree.com”. Stay tuned for further details about the re-launch of this site.
Last week I provided an analysis of the article in Science, â€œThe Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testingâ€œ, which examined the benefits and pitfalls of genetic genealogy.
There’s been considerable discussion of the article and the author’s conclusions at the Genealogy-DNA mailing list. One of the most interesting posts was by Kim Tallbear, a long-time member of the list and co-author of the Science article. The post, “Response to Genetic Genealogists From Authors of Oct. 19th Science Article“, is important reading for anyone who is following the development of this story. The following is a quote from Dr. Tallbear’s post:
“We orginally had language in the article that noted the expertise of genetic genealogists such as some of you on this list. (My interactions on this listserv taught me well that there is a good deal of expertise here.) But with space constraints the editors cut that language.)”
The Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco just ended.Â One of the first speakers was J. Craig Venter, whose genome was recently sequenced.Â He gave a lecture about personalized medicine, personal genetics, and his new book, “A Life Decoded: My Genome, My Life.”
To read more, there’s coverage of his presentation at All Things Digital, Barron’s, Information Week, and The Guardian.