Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings (â€œI’m Puzzled by DNA Claims on â€˜Faces of Americaâ€™â€) writes about the fourth and last episode of â€œFaces of America,â€ a PBS documentary series investigating the ancestry of several famous people in America. This fourth episode included several different types of genetic genealogy to examine the ancestral origins and relatedness of the showâ€™s members.
1. Whole Genome Sequencing by Knome
The first type of genetic genealogy was whole-genome sequencing by Knome of Henry Louis Gates and his father. This analysis examined Henryâ€™s (â€œSkipâ€™sâ€) genome for medical conditions and physical traits, and also compared his DNA to his fatherâ€™s, thereby allowing them to deduce the entire DNA contribution from his deceased mother. This segment was actually quite moving, as Dr. Gates was able to establish this intimate connection to the mother that he and his father obviously missed very much.
â€œEarlier this year, I submitted a saliva sample to Pathway to get a feel for how the latest consumer genomics offering compares to the more established companies in the field. Pathway communicates the health results not by a numerical relative or lifetime risk but via a series of color-coded bins depending on their potential significance to the individual.â€
I too recently had the opportunity to test my DNA through Pathway Genomics. (DISCLAIMER: Although this test kit was not free, I am a consultant for Pathway Genomics. This review, however, contains my own opinions of the Pathway Genomics Ancestry Test product). This is a brief review of the Pathway Genomics Ancestry Test, which examines SNPs on the mtDNA (for both males and females) and the Y-chromosome (for males). Using those results, Pathway classifies test-takers into one of over 1,200 maternal haplogroups and one of over 525 paternal haplogroups.
Late last fall, Family Tree Magazine requested nominations for the best genealogy blogs, and then opened voting for the nominated list.Â Yesterday, they announced the winners of the voting.Â Diane Haddad wrote about the announcement on the Genealogy Insider blog, and Maureen Taylor wrote the article that will appear in the May issue of Family Tree Magazine: “Fab Forty.”
I am very pleased and honored to announce that TGG was selected as one of the 40 Best Genealogy Blogs, in the category of genetic genealogy. I would like to thank everyone who nominated and voted for me.Â I have been very fortunate over the last few years to interact with a fascinating array of readers, and I am thankful for every one of them.
When I started blogging in February 2007 (I just recently counted my third anniversary of TGG!), there were very few blogs in the genetic genealogy space.Â Today there are a number of interesting and well-written genetic genealogy blogs.Â See my recent round-up at “10 Great Blogs for Genetic Genealogists.“Â Each of these blogs is well worth adding to your reading list.
Daniel Vorhaus of the Genomics Law Report is also a member of the steering committee of the GET (â€œGenomes, Environments, Traits) Conference 2010.This unique conference, to be held on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 will gather together some of the biggest names in personal genomics, as well as most of the limited number of the people who have released their entire genomes to the public.Tickets for the conference go on sale today here.
As part of the GET Conference 2010, the new BioWeatherMap initiative will officially launch.According to the projectâ€™s website, BioWeatherMap is â€œa global, grassroots, distributed environmental sensing effort aimed at answering some very basic questions about the geographic and temporal distribution patterns of microbial life. Utilizing the power of high-throughput, low cost DNA sequencing and harnessing the drive of an enlightened public we propose a new collaborative research approach aimed at generating a steady stream of environmental samples from many geographic locations to produce high quality data for ongoing discovery and surveillance.â€
In a move that puts it in more direct competition with personal genomics companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA announced today that it will offer a large-scale autosomal test for genealogicalÂ purposes.Â The test, which will be available to the public in mid-March, will allow test-takers the opportunity to connect with matching family members across all genetic ancestral lines.Â The test will launch at a price of $249.
Although other companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme offer similar tests, members of the genetic genealogy community have lamented the fact that their databases are populated in significant part by people who have no interest in genealogy.Â Presumably, people who purchase the FTDNA test and become part of that database will be strongly motivated by genealogical interests, and thus will be interested in communicating with genetic relatives.
In October 2008, I reviewed an article by Dr. Alondra Nelson in the journal Social Studies of Science entitled â€œBio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestryâ€ (Social Studies of Science 2008 38: 759-783).Â The article was about the complex interpretation of the results of genetic genealogy testing by African-Americans and black British.Â Dr. Nelson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in NY.
On Friday, an article by Dr. Nelson appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Henry Louis Gates’s Extended Family,” which is an introduction and review of the current PBS documentary miniseries Faces of America. Regarding the genetic testing aspect of the show, Nelson writes:
Both 23andMe and deCODEme (using my 23andMe data) have interpreted my SNP results to indicate that I have a greatly increased genetic risk for Type 2 Diabetes.Â This post interprets the information from both companies and applies some of the primary research that the companies relied upon to predict my risk.Â Hopefully, this information will be useful to me as I strive to more completely understand my own risk factors, and will be useful to others as an example of using SNP data to potentially understand more about your health.
I. The Genetics
My 23andMe analysis makes it clear that I have an elevated risk for type 2 diabetes:
And, upon clicking upon the link, I receive the following additional information:
deCODEme, which used my 23andMe data, provides a similar interpretation:
First of all, you have to make sure you’ve got the free Firebug plug-in installed. Right click on the little bug in the lower-right corner of your browser window, and choose “Enable all panels”.Â Then left click the same bug icon, which should make a whole new section appear at the bottom of the screen.
Whit Athey has announced publication of the Fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.Â This is Whitâ€™s last issue as Editor, and Iâ€™d like to extend my sincere appreciation to him and all the work he has put into JoGG over the past 5 years.Â Every issue requires hours of work to coordinate reviews and format articles, among the many other aspects of publishing.Â Whitâ€™s tireless work has helped add so much to the field.
Iâ€™d also like to announce that with Whitâ€™s departure I will be assuming the position of Editor of JoGG.Â Iâ€™m excited about this endeavor, and I look forward to working with the members of JoGG as well as the authors of the most recent research in the field.Â So, if you have an article or even just an idea for an article youâ€™d like to discuss, please fee free to contact me (blaine_5 at hotmail.com, or blainebettinger at gmail.com).