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DNA Analysis of 5 People Who Helped Create America

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1. Benjamin Franklin – mtDNA Haplogroup V

In addition to being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Franklin was a politician, printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, and author.DNA testing has elucidated the origins of Benjamin Franklin’s mitochondrial DNA through his mother Abiah Lee Folger, who had six sisters. One of those sisters, Doras Folger, passed on her mtDNA to her 9th-great granddaughter, Charlene Chambers King. Sequencing of Ms. King’s mtDNA revealed that she belonged to mtDNA Haplogroup V with the following mutations: T16298C, 315.1C, 309.1C, A263G, and T72C.Haplogroup V (known as “Velda” by Sykes) is believed to have originated in Europe about 12,000 years ago, possibly in Iberia. About 4% of Europeans contain Haplogroup V mtDNa.So far, no known source of Benjamin Franklin’s Y-DNA or autosomal DNA has been discovered (although some believe that his tooth might provide the answer).

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Links From The Genetic Genealogist – October 31, 2007

In order to clean out posts I’ve been saving in Google Reader (does anyone else keep posts in Reader until you’ve blogged about them?), I decided to have a potpourri day. The following are links to interesting articles around the blogosphere. And Happy Halloween!

Pedro at Public Rambling has The Fortune Cookie Genome, a ‘science fiction’ post about picking up the results of his whole genome scan from his genetic advisor. Of course, it’s only science ‘fiction’ until it’s science ‘reality’!

The Women’s Bioethic Project has an article about DNA Testing Without Consent, which asks whether there should be a ‘reverse’ statute of limitations for testing DNA from famous dead people. The article was written in response to a recent story in Parade. I talked about this briefly back in August (see “DNA From the Dead“), and I’m working on a post about “Discarded DNA and the Constitution”, so stick around. HT: Eye on DNA.

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Navigenics and 23andMe From VentureBeat: Life Sciences

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David Hamilton at VentureBeat: Life Sciences recently wrote about the potential business plans of two popular genomic companies – Navigenics and 23andMe. It appears that the post was motivated by the recent article in Portfolio. David writes:

“Over the last few months, startups like 23andMe and Navigenics have attracted a fair bit of attention for promising to let ordinary people search through their own genomes to better understand their disease risk, genealogy and ancestry. One of the first major efforts to figure them out, however — courtesy of the November issue of Portfolio — left me with the distinct impression that these companies may not actually be anywhere near as revolutionary as they seem.”

There’s some discussion in the comment section, and David presents a number of links to the many previous articles he’s written about 23andMe and Navigenics.

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Should We All Be Testing Our DNA?

That’s the title of an article at BBC News yesterday. The article’s header states that:

“More and more people in the UK are following America’s lead in spending hundreds of pounds on private genetic tests.”

The article is about genetic testing for health concerns, not for genealogical purposes. Although the article is very short, the author does manage to highlight a few of the potential benefits and downfalls of genetic testing.

A Contest From DNA Heritage

DNA Heritage is hosting a video contest for people who have undergone DNA testing for ancestral purposes. Following are the details of the contest:

Dear Customer,Thank you for all of your suggestions for improving the website which we have put into motion. Among them is flexible DNA storage, which we shall implement at the end of this month (we’ll let you know when).Spotted the video link on our home page? We wanted to hear about your own experience.Have a story to tell?

Want to tell people why you took a DNA test or what it told you about you and your family? How has it helped your research? How did you do it and what did you get out of it?

Tell us by video and we’ll give you 50% off your next test, be it for you, a friend or some distant cousin in another part of the world. Not a bad Xmas present for a few minutes work…

If we think it’s the best one we’ll give you three free tests.

Two runner-ups will get a free test each.

And you get to choose the test be it a Surname DNA, Paternal Roots or Maternal Roots test.

The Rules.

  • Have fun with it
  • Much like international figure skating, points are awarded for transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation
  • Must be somewhere between 1 and 5 minutes long
  • Must mention us by name
  • You can name-drop Ybase too
  • Let us upload it our site and to sites like YouTube etc.
  • Email it to us before December 1st 2007 we’ll judge it right after that in time for Xmas
  • The tests need to be used by the end of February 2008
  • Accepted in WMV, AVI, MOV, MPEG and MP4 formats – pretty much anything

Best of luck to all you budding Cecil B. DeMilles!

Sincerely,
Alastair Greenshields
Principal
DNA Heritage
17

10 DNA Testing Myths Busted

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1.Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists.

Wrong!If you’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 father’s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement.Now add your mother’s mtDNA, and so on.However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:

2.I’m going to send in my DNA sample and get back my entire family tree.

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Genetic Genealogy in Newsweek and The Courier-Journal (Kentucky)

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.

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Sorenson Genomic’s GeneTree Launches

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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 – 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:

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Roots – Chris and Alex Haley’s DNA, and the Launch of JeanTree (GeneTree.com)

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.  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:

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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.

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The Genetic Genealogy Community Responds to Last Week’s Article in Science

 

Last week I provided an analysis of the article in Science, “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, 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.)”

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