I recently received an interesting question from a reader (see this comment) about 23andMe’s Relative Finder, and thought it would be worth sharing the question and my answer with all my readers.
I’m a man who recently took a 23andMe test, and I have a question about Relative Finder. Another man who I match on 36 of 37 Y-DNA markers via Family Tree DNA also took a 23andMe test. We believe that we are third cousins, but this individual does not show up as related in Relative Finder, nor does he show any similarities in the Family Inheritance section. Does this mean that we are not related at all?
If two individuals do not share any DNA in the Family Inheritance section of 23andMe or do not appear as relatives in Relative Finder, this absolutely does not mean that they are not or cannot be relatives. It does suggest, however, that the two individuals might not share any DNA. Although your Y-DNA test suggests that you share a recent common male ancestor, it appears that apart from your Y chromosomes you do not share any other DNA.
Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, has started a new blog entitled The Life & Times of Lilly Mendel. I’m looking forward to some interesting reading as Linda establishes the Brainstorm Research Foundation dedicated to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
I’ve been playing with 23andMe’s Relative Finder this week, since it’s now in open beta. It’s been interesting hearing from 6th to 10th cousins from around the world, and we’re working to find ancestors in common. I’m looking forward to identifying – for the first time – a piece of autosomal DNA that came from a specific ancestor.
While in the beta period, the number of relatives is limited to 1000 (I currently have 173 with only 5 in the 3rd to 7th cousin range), and you can only contact other people who have opted in for the beta test. So if you have a 23andMe account, please opt in to the beta test via the following instructions (kind provided by Ann Turner):
1. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/user/profile/ and check the checkbox near “Name:” and click on the blue “Save Changes” button.
2. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/user/edit/privacy/ and UNcheck the checkbox near “I do not want to receive sharing invitations from anyone.”
3. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/you/relfinder/ and check the checkbox near “Highlight my profile in Relative Finder to show that I’m interested in making connections with potential relatives.”
Megan Smolenyak has been very busy the past couple of weeks sharing her research of Michelle Obama’s genealogy. Genealogy Insider posted this video of Megan on the CBS Early Show on October 8th. The YouTube video is described as: “The New York Times traced Michelle Obama’s five generation path from slavery to the White House. Harry Smith spoke to Megan Smoleyak the genealogist who uncovered the first lady’s family tree.”
A much more in-depth video is available from the always interesting RootsTelevision at “Michelle Obama’s Roots.”
ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, has a â€œSuccess Storiesâ€ page where it posts short summaries of just a few the many successes that genetic genealogy has helped people achieve.Â Today I noticed that there are several new summaries regarding â€œAutosomal DNA Successes,â€ both of which were the result of 23andMeâ€™s new Relative Finder (currently still in beta testing).
As I recently wrote, Relative Finder is a feature at 23andMe that allows users to compare their autosomal DNA to the autosomal DNA of others to potentially find cousins.Â This has long been done with Y-DNA and mtDNA, but this is one of the first times this has been done with autosomal DNA.
Success Story #1
The first success story is from someone who used Relative Finder to identify a huge number of potential cousins.Â After connecting one of his or her potential 4th cousins, the individuals discovered that they have similar surnames from a certain location in common (in addition to DNA on chromosomes 3 and 10).Â This individual also wisely noted that s/he now has â€œa good idea of the path that two of my DNA segments took through my pedigree to get to me.”Â This is something I wrote about recently in â€œThe Future of Genetic Genealogy â€“ Tracing DNA To Individual Ancestors.â€
In the May 2010 issue of Family Tree Magazine, the editors will name the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs.Â Last month many of my readers nominated this blog for the list, which I appreciate greatly!
As of today you can vote to narrow down the top 130 nominated blogs to about 80 blogs, which the editors will then reduce to 40.Â The blogs have been placed into 10 different categories.Â There is more information about the categories and blogs here.
If you have a moment, please feel free to vote for The Genetic Genealogist in the genetic genealogy category!Â Voting takes place from October 5th through November 5th, and you can vote as often as you like.Â Thank you!
23andMe has been beta testing a new tool for comparing autosomal DNA results called â€œRelative Finder.â€ Although I was not one of the beta testers, it seems that this new tool will be of great use to genealogists. Roberta Estes has posted a nice summary of the Relative Finder tool at the â€œSearching for the Lost Colony DNA Blog.â€
90% of Customers Likely to Find a Match!
Relative Finder compares your autosomal SNP results to the results of others in the 23andMe database to determine matches. While developing the tool, 23andMe discovered that in their dataset of â€œmore than 5000 individuals with European ancestry,â€ 90% of individuals had at least one distant relative between 2nd and 8th degree cousins!
Last week my Google alert for “genetic genealogy” went crazy, and it took me a few days to realize that Ancestry Magazine recently made all their archives available for free online.Â Although I’m not sure how far back their archives go, there appears to be hundreds of genealogy articles on the site.
A quick search of “DNA” at the site, for instance, reveals MANY articles relating to genetic ancestry testing. This is a great resource for anyone interested in genetic genealogy.
I see that Schelly at Tracing the Tribe had the same Google alerts frenzy last week. As she notes, some of the articles are rather old, so be sure to check the dates before you read them; the information might require some updating!
I once told someone that in addition to learning about their ancient origins (such as Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups), many genetic genealogists would ideally like to match every portion of their DNA with the contributing ancestor.Â Although this might seem to be beyond the reach of current genetic ancestry testing, it has actually already begun.Â The family compare function of 23andMe, for example, is already being used by genetic genealogists for just this purpose; people who have matching DNA segments can compare ancestry and attempt to identify the ancestor who might have contributed the DNA.
For obvious reasons, medical geneticists have for many years been using genealogy to trace founder mutations in populations.Â For example, in 2008 scientists traced a colon cancer gene in the United States to a Mr. and Mrs. George Fry who arrived in the New World around 1630 (see A Single Colon Cancer Gene Traced to 1630).
The first rumblings about DNA and the Book of Mormon came about 10 years ago, according to Perego, a senior researcher at Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation.Critics cobbled together data from a variety of early DNA studies and came to the unsurprising conclusion that the studies indicated an Asian origin for Native Americans.
This, the critics argued, proved that the Book of Mormon was false. They claimed that the book says the continent was empty and if it was empty, then all Native Americans should have Lehi’s Israelite DNA, not Asian DNA.
Ugo Perego, well-known in genetic genealogy circles, talks with the journalist about the compatibility of our current understanding of Native American origins and the Book of Mormon.Â According to Perego, there are possibilities solutions to this apparent conundrum: