Genetic Genealogy at the BBC

Megan Smolenyak of Roots Television (have you checked it out yet?) and Megan’s Roots World recently wrote a piece for the BBC’s Family History website, in association with their wildly popular Who Do You Think You Are? series.  “Genetic Genealogy – What Can If Offer?” is a great article for anyone who might be interested in learning about the opportunities and limitations associated with genetic genealogy.

And, you might see a familiar blog mentioned in the “Find Out More” … Click to read more!

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Navigenetics and Personal Genomics


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The field of personal genomics is just beginning. With recent advances in sequencing, whole genome sequencing (or whole genome SNP analysis) has become increasingly affordable. While the Human Genome Project cost $3 billion for one genome, Watson’s genome was sequenced for $1 to 2 million just a few years later.

In addition to the oft-discussed start-up company 23andMe, a least one other personal genomics company has announced its intention to offer sequencing and analysis to consumers. Navigenetics, based in Redwood Shores, California, describes itself as:

“[A] privately held company offering personalized, genetics-based consumer health and wellness services to our members. Our founders and advisors include leading genetic scientists, physicians, genetic counselors, bioethicists, patient advocates, health policy and technology experts and a management team that has launched some of the most successful online health and information resources of our time.”

Navigenetics’ website makes it clear that the company is strongly focused on the medical application of genetic information:

“[The company will] screen your whole genome and compare it to the most up-to-date research on the genetic foundation of conditions such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. We then provide you with clinically based knowledge to help you take positive steps to live as long and healthy a life as possible.”

While 23andMe has partnered with Illumina to offer sequencing, … Click to read more!

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Forget the $1000 genome, how about $100! While you wait!


 
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Would you like your genome sequenced in a matter of hours for under $100?

An article from GenomeWeb last week, “Complete Genomics, BioNanomatrix to Use $8.8M NIST Grant to Develop ‘$100 Genome’ Platform,” reveals that BioNanomatrix and Complete Genomics have partnered together to share an $8.8 million grant from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology to “develop technology that will be able to sequence a human genome in eight hours for less than $100.”

From the article (don’t worry, I have no idea how these technologies really work either):

“The proposed sequencing platform will use Complete Genomics’ sequencing chemistry and BioNanomatrix’ nanofluidic technology. The companies said they plan to adapt DNA sequencing chemistry with “linearized nanoscale DNA imaging”to create a system that can read DNA sequences longer than 100,000 bases quickly and with accuracy “exceeding the current industry standard.””

So what does this mean for genetic genealogists? Well, considering many genetic genealogy tests cost substantially more than $100 and return a much smaller amount of sequencing, whole genome sequencing for $100 would have a pretty strong impact. Although this technology requires a considerable amount of development, there … Click to read more!

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Genetic Genealogy News

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The DNA Ancestry Blog has a new post about needs and concerns regarding Ancestry.com’s DNA project. If you have something insightful or valuable to share, the post lists an email address.

There’s a relatively new Genetic Genealogy blog called Haplogroup I which has some interesting information and news about the field. Welcome to the blogosphere, and I hope to learn more about you and about Haplogroup I!

The big news (ok, not really) in Genetic Genealogy this week is that Ben Affleck is joining the Genographic Project. The Boston Globe has a story here. My favorite part was the ending:

As with any other test, the project did lead to some bragging rights. Ramiro Torres, who hosts a morning show on radio station Jam’n 94.5, was pleased to learn his enterprising relatives trekked across all of Asia before crossing the ice bridge and populating North and South America.

“I just want to give a big shoutout to haplogroup A and let anybody else know we are the best,” he said. “I don’t care if you’re the mayor, or a soccer player, or Ben Affleck – unless you are in my group, you are nobody.”

As I am myself a member of Haplogroup A, I can see some merit in what he says!  HT: Dana Waring at pgEd and EyeonDNA covered it here.  By the way, speaking of Dana, she and the … Click to read more!

Genetic Genealogy in the News

Megan Smolenyak at Megan’s Roots World has some great links to recent news about genetic genealogy.  The first post is “Genealogical Round Up“, and the second is “More Genetic Genealogy.”  If you’re interested in GG, stop by.

I also saw a recent story in the IndyStar called “Unearthing Their Roots“, about African Americans using DNA in an attempt to identify their ancestral origin.  Although this exact topic has been very popular in the press this year, this article is more balanced than some.

By the way, I would like to remind everyone that Roots Television is a great resource for anyone who might be interested in genetic genealogy, or genealogy in general.  I especially enjoy seeing interviews and presentations from conferences that I am unable to attend.  It’s a wonderful resource.

I wish there was an online … Click to read more!

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A List of Books for the Genetic Genealogist


A lot of people write me to ask me questions about genetic genealogy, and a few have asked if there are any books on the subject that might help them learn more about it.  I thought I should provide a list of great reading material to help someone who might not have time to ask (but keep the questions coming!).
Great beginner books which are specifically about genealogy and DNA:

Trace Your Roots with DNA: Use Your DNA to Complete Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner (Published October 7, 2004):

The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes (Published July 9, 2001):


How to Interpret Your DNA Test Results for Family History & Ancestry: Scientists Speak Out on Genealogy Joining Genetics by Anne Hart (Published December … Click to read more!

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5 Reasons to Save Your Grandmother’s DNA – A Busy Day Re-post


1. You got those big blue eyes from your grandmother, but chances are you inherited less desirable genes as well. We inherit our DNA from our parents, who inherited it from their parents. Since we all possess genes that can cause or contribute to disease, knowing one’s DNA and family medical history can be a great resource for someone who learns they have a genetic disorder.
2. Full genome sequencing is right around the corner! The X-prize quest for the $1000 genome will lead to efficient and affordable whole-genome sequencing. As commercial companies crop up and compete for customer’s business, leading to even lower prices.
3. Your grandmother’s DNA contains clues to her ancestry. X-chromosome, mtDNA, and … Click to read more!

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Reconstructing the Worldwide Family Tree

I first saw mention of Mike Elgan’s story, “Coming Soon: The Mother of All Genealogy Databases” at Jasia’s Creative Gene (The Google Family Tree?), and then I saw it at the Genealogue (NothingWill Save Us From Boredom).

In the article, Mr. Elgan imagines an enormous future database that combines traditional genealogical records and DNA to link everyone together.  Two individuals could then, for instance, search the database to find their closest relationship to each other.  My first thought, of course, is of privacy issues and plain old bad genealogical data (of which the internet is … Click to read more!

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The Early Stages of the Genetic Genealogy Revolution – Part II

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I’ve spoken before about the enormous effect that affordable SNP and whole-genome sequencing will have on genetic genealogy. In that previous article, I mentioned a study using SNP analysis to identify a person’s ancestry based on autosomal DNA (all the nuclear non-sex DNA). Another study, released today in PLoS Genetics, used SNP chips to identify SNP markers that are characteristic of a certain ancestral origins. According to the authors:

“We have developed a novel algorithm to identify a subset of SNP markers that capture major axes of genetic variation in a genotypic dataset without use of any prior information about individual ancestry or membership in a population.”

To accomplish this, the researchers:

“…studied here 274 individuals from 12 populations (20 Mbuti, 20 Mende, 22 Burunge, 42 African Americans, 42 Caucasians, 20 Spanish, 11 Mala, 20 East Asians, 20 South Altaians, 20 Nahua, 20 Quechua, and 19 Puerto Ricans). Three of these populations are admixed (Caucasians, African Americans, and Puerto Ricans). All individuals were typed using the 10K Affymetrix array.”

The “10K Affymetrix array” is a chip that tests for about 11,500 SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms, or mutations) in each individual. Personally, I don’t know why more genetic genealogy companies aren’t doing this type of research themselves. The chips are relatively cheap these days, and … Click to read more!