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Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation to Protect DNA Samples Using Biomatrica’s Room Temperature Storage

From today’s press release:

Biomatrica today announced that the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) will use Biomatrica’s SampleMatrix room temperature storage technology to archive its DNA samples.

SMGF will use the SampleMatrix technology in place of ultra-low-temperature freezers for the long-term storage of all newly collected samples. In addition, SMGF will move its collection of previously archived samples from freezers to room temperature storage.

“SMGF has an extremely valuable collection of DNAs, and we have been very concerned about the long-term storage and preservation of the collection,” said Scott Woodward, executive director of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation. “Biomatrica has developed a product that we feel addresses our concerns in a very practical, economical and secure way.”

According to the article, the technology is “based on extremophile biology in which organisms are able to survive long-term in a state of anhydrobiosis (life without water) and later be revived by rehydration.”  It works by “forming a thermostable barrier during the drying process to protect samples from degradation during storage at room temperature.”

Truly amazing stuff, and what a cost savings!


Posted via web from … Click to read more!

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“Can DNA tests help your genealogical inquiries?” in the Asheville Citizen-Times

An article appears in today’s Asheville Citizen-Times (here) about genetic genealogy. Although brief, the article summarizes the sciences behind Y-DNA and mtDNA testing, and focuses on the use of genetic genealogy to explore the “Clark” surname.

With the famous Thomas Jefferson-Sally Hemmings case, folks began to realize that DNA testing techniques could give answers and break down brick walls as never before.  While DNA will never replace standard research and primary documentation, it can be considered a tool to be used hand in hand with standard research.

via citizen-times.com and familybuilder
Posted via web from … Click to read more!

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A Critique of Genetic Ancestry Testing in Science Magazine

Gold StandardFive bioethicists have published a paper in today’s issue of Science – The Illusive Gold Standard in Genetic Ancestry Testing (paid subscription required) – calling for government regulation of genetic ancestry testing (aka genetic genealogy). There is an accompanying press release: Stanford Bioethicist and Colleagues Call for Federal Regulation of Genetic Ancestry Testing (another press release is available here).

Overall Thoughts

I highly respect the work of these authors, and I appreciate their efforts to educate the public about these issues. I do, however, wonder why the article was published in Science. The article mostly rehashes arguments found in a number of other articles (including from a very similar 2007 Science article (link) with some of the same authors) without adding any new research or supporting evidence. This is my greatest criticism of this and related articles – much of the … Click to read more!

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Latest Genetic Genealogy Series “Faces of America” Expected From PBS in 2010

http://www.thefoodsection.com/.a/6a00d8341c4ec753ef01157198f61a970b-pi Via ” Mapping the Mario Batali Genome” Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is working on a new four-part genetic genealogy series for PBS called “Faces of America”, expected to air in 2010.  Unlike the previous African American Lives series, the latest work will examine the genetic ancestry of Americans from all walks of life.  From the press release (“THIRTEEN, Kunhardt McGee Productions and Inkwell Films, in Production on New PBS Series, Faces of America“):

Global in scope, Faces of America will look beyond the black experience to explore American identity with guests who are Asian, Hispanic, Irish, Italian, Jewish, Syrian, West Indian, and Native American. Joining Professor Gates in this new series are poet Elizabeth Alexander, who composed and read the poem at President Barack Obama’s inauguration, chef Mario Batali, comedian and television personality Stephen Colbert, writer Junot Diaz, writer Louise Erdrich, writer Malcolm Gladwell, actress Eva Longoria, cellist Yo Yo Ma, writer and director Mike Nichols, former monarch of Jordan Queen Noor, actress Meryl Streep, and Olympic gold medalist and figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi.

An interesting mix of celebrities!  In addition to peering into the genomes of others, the series will follow Professor Gates and his father as their ENTIRE genomes are sequences and analyzed (to the extent currently possible):

Too expensive for popular use, to date, less than 20 people have had their entire genome sequenced. Working with Illumina and Knome and geneticists at the Broad Institute and the Harvard Medical School, Faces of America will make medical history by filming the sequencing and interpretation of the genomes – six billion base pairs – of Professor Gates and his father, Henry Louis Gates, Sr. In addition, each guest will undergo dense genotyping to trace their father’s line, mother’s line and their admixture (that is, their percentages of European, Asian, Native American, and African ancestry).

Here’s a link to a video of Professor Gates with Colbert from February 3, 2009.  I should also note that Professor Gates just recently won the 2009 Ralph Lowell Award for his work with public television to … Click to read more!

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Ancient Ancestry Finder From Ancestry.com – A Best Guess at Ancient Origin of Your Y-DNA or mtDNA

via blogs.ancestry.com Ancestry.com DNA offers a Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroup predictor – the Ancient Ancestry Finder – based primarily on location of your most distant known paternal or maternal ancestor. From the site:

To give everyone a sampling of these results, with Finder™ we’ve built a simple experience that takes a best guess at describing your ancient ancestors. You answer 2 or 3 questions with the most basic info about your family (facts almost everyone knows). And then we provide a few options for likely ancient ancestral groups, along with descriptions of those groups…The spirit of Finder™ is a bit different from what you may have experienced on our site. It’s part of our effort to introduce ancestry and genealogy to a wider audience.

The results aren’t meant to be accurate, merely a best guess based on location. The guess is the broadest category of the haplogroup, such as “Y-DNA Haplogroup R” or “mtDNA Haplogroup H.” Both of my predictions were accurate. I’m curious to see what the percentage of accuracy is for others, so leave a comment to let me know. Posted via web from Blaine Bettinger’s Lifestream … Click to read more!