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Big [Y] News From the 9th Annual Family Tree DNA Administrators Conference

The 9th International Genetic Genealogy Conference for Administrators is currently being held by Family Tree DNA in Houston, Texas.  As they try to do every year, there have been several buzz-worthy announcements already.

Family Tree DNA has announced the new Big Y test:

Family Tree DNA

Here are some of the basics about the new Big Y test:

  • 10 million bp sequenced
  • ~25,000 SNPs
  • Cost = $495 until December 1, 2013, then $695.

The “Y-DNA SNP testing chart” page at the ISOGG wiki has already been updated to reflect the Big Y test.

For more about the test, see these great posts:

There’s also a great deal of discussion already going on at all the major DNA-related mailing lists and groups.

Will you be ordering the new Big Y test?

Blaine Bettinger

Intellectual property attorney, genealogist, and author of The Genetic Genealogist since 2007

3 Comments

  1. Greg Magoon (an expert chrY Genetic Genealogist and a Contractor of FGC – Full Genomes Corporation) says:
    Regarding the breadth of coverage on chrY: The mapped coverage of the FGC raw data is about 23 million base pairs (mbp). We have estimated the region of reliable mappings in the FGC raw data (corresponding to the high-reliability novel variants) to be 12-16 mbp …”. “Plus, many of the variants classified with lower reliability will likely turn out to be genuine, but further study is needed in those cases.” “As far as I can tell, the region of chrY that is covered by this test is the same as would be obtained through whole genome sequencing, and since FTDNA basically seems to be targeting a smaller subset of chrY, while using similar next-gen sequencing technology (2×100 bp read length Illumina sequencing), their coverage will almost certainly be lower than the FGC test (it will not be higher).” “ If I make some educated guesses about the approach they are using, am expecting that the larger region covered by the FGC option will give roughly 20-60% more reliable SNPs than the FTDNA option.” “But it seems clear that there will be significant regions that are not covered by the new FTDNA offering that are available through the FGC results.”
    “Also, in terms of results analysis and interpretation, my sense is that FTDNA will not be offering much here, and may encounter some challenges.” “ The issue of false positives in NGS results is a non-trivial problem, and I wouldn’t be surprised if their analysis has problems in this regard.”” In any case, we have put a lot of resources into making this aspect of FGC;s analysis as solid as possible.”” We also have worked hard to develop a large database of sequence results (from 1000 Genome Project, Personal Genome Project, and elsewhere) to aid in interpreting the results and help place the new variants on the Y-tree.”My understanding from some posts on various forums is that FTDNA is not planning on making the raw read and alignment data available, whereas FGC provides this as an option.”

    George Jones notes that some customers may consider this statement on a FTDNA website as somewhat misleading or advertising puffery concerning the new FTDNA “Big Y” test: “10 million base-pair coverage – more than any other Y-DNA test on the market.” Such statements should be investigated by a regulatory government body or consumer affairs group … and IMHO, that also goes for other claims being made in the DTC Genetic Genealogy Testing Marketplace.

    Comparing a $695 FTDNA Big Y test to a $1000 or so FGC test is not a pure apples to apples comparison as FGC provides Greater chrY coverage as Magoon says, 400+ STR reads, mtDNA test, analysis. All these DTC DNA tests without some sound analysis to customers have varying levels of Genetic Genealogy analysis is not a good game plan.

  2. In case anyone is wondering about the Big Y Test release of results today…..it has been very disappointing for pretty much all involved as test results were not delivered as promised today (and a fourth date of “hopeful” release was passed along to customers of the Big Y Test from Nov/Dec 2013..

    FTDNA seems very noncommittal in their wording to its customers. Originally Big Y results for many were to be received on 31 Dec 2013. The it was pushed to mid Feb 2014, then to 28 Feb 2014. Now this is the notice that the majority of the Big Y customers received today from FTDNA not through an email but to there account on the FTDNA Website:

    “We expect that all samples ordered during the initial sale (last November & December) will be delivered by March 28th. We are processing samples in first come first serve order. If a sample doesn’t pass quality control, we will place it in the next set of results to be processed as long as we have enough DNA sample. If we require an additional sample, we will send a new test kit and place the new sample in the first set to be processed when it is returned.”

    The very loose wording at the shows that FTDNA is not guaranteeing delivery of order Big Y test results by 28 March 2014, the they clearly indicate “We expect…”

    To find out that the on 28 Feb 2014 that the expected date (which was changed three times to 28 Feb 2014) of 28 Feb 2014 will not be met, however it may are may not be met by 28 March 2014 (even if there are no issues above FTDNA having to process the test) is pretty horrible customer service.

  3. I have received my Big Y Results and am very glad I signed up for the test. Prior to taking the Big Y, I knew that I was L1065. Results have immediately taken me 4 SNPs downstream of L1065. On top of this I have the Big Y has me positive with a high confidence for an additional 82 Novel (variant) SNPs. Once these novel/variant SNPs are compared with the results of others (which may take some time) much will be learned about my paternal linage.

    Although the Big Y had a rocky start this time around (remained of Big Y test results are scheduled to be completed prior to 28 March 2014) I am extremely satisfied with the product that FTDNA has created.

    Once all the novel/variant SNPs are sorted out, I believe that the Big Y will be the most beneficial genetic genealogy test on the market. From my personal experience with both my currently known results and the expected follow-on information that is expected, I highly recommend this product to anyone interested in their paternal ancestry. Well worth the investment.

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