I know I say this every year, but 2014 is shaping up to be the year of Genetic Genealogy. There are many incredible opportunities this year for anyone interested in genetic genealogy to learn more and interact with others.
For example, just last month RootsTech 2014 featured numerous DNA sessions. This coming June, there will be an entire day of DNA at the 2014 SCGS Jamboree, where I and many other speakers will cover numerous topics related to DNA (see my coverage here and here). Among my presentations at Jamboree will be a completely new lecture that I’m really excited about – “DNA and the Genealogical Proof Standard,” which will be the first presentation completely devoted to the topic, and which I hope will spur some important conversation!
And in July 2014, Debbie Parker Wayne, CeCe Moore, and I will be teaching “Practical Genetic Genealogy” at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP). This will be the … Click to read more!
A word of advice: beware anyone who tells you to avoid AncestryDNA.
Many genetic genealogists, myself included, have had incredible success using AncestryDNA’s autosomal DNA test. Personally, several of my own major DNA discoveries have occurred though the service. Unfortunately, it has become popular among some genetic genealogists to deride AncestryDNA’s autosomal DNA test, and some recommend avoiding the service altogether.
While AncestryDNA certainly does have limitations, avoiding the service is missing out on a major opportunity and one of the largest autosomal DNA databases in the world. This is especially true for adoptees; anyone that tells an adoptee not to test with AncestryDNA (or not to test with any one of the three major testing companies) should not be … Click to read more!
Following a trend inspired by discussions at the recent Conference for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators, Family Tree DNA has released a new set of updates. This week’s update includes the ability to change the location for your most distant known maternal or paternal ancestors, and the ability to determine which of your Family Finder matches actually match each other. Although this functionality was previously available, it was cumbersome and was not accompanied by any visualization.
From Family Tree DNA:
Weekly Information Technology/Engineering Update (10 Dec 2013)
Matches Maps Locations Clear Button
Some users have requested the ability to clear their stored map coordinates for their most distant known maternal or paternal ancestors. We have added a
Weekly Information Technology/Engineering Update (10 Dec 2013)
button to Step 3 of the Update Most Distant Ancestor’s Location wizard.
Family Tree DNA myFTDNA BETA Family Finder … Click to read more!
Yesterday, 23andMe provided an update on its blog (see “23andMe Provides An Update Regarding FDA’s Review”) about how it will respond to the FDA’s recent warning letter. In a nutshell, the company will continue to sell the same Personal Genome Service (“PGS”) kits, but new customers will only have access to ancestry-related genetic information and tools, and to their raw data. No health-related information will be provided, for now. Existing customers will continue to have access to all tools, including health-related information.
I’ll note that this is exactly what I predicted would happen in my blog post about the FDA warning letter (see “The FDA Orders 23andMe to Stop Marketing Medical Tests”). You heard it here first! It’s really the most logical approach while 23andMe communicates with the FDA.
The blog post spells out the … Click to read more!
23andMe and co-founder Anne Wojcicki are featured in the cover story of the November issue of Fast Company entitled “Anne Wojcicki Is The Most Daring CEO In America.”
Accompanying the cover story are a number of different online articles, including the following:
Article #1 – “Inside 23andMe Founder Anne Wojcicki’s $99 DNA Revolution” by Elizabeth Murphy (not her real name – it was changed to protect the identity of her adopted daughter, who 23andMe testing revealed has an extremely high propensity for Alzheimer’s disease)
Article #2 - “Behind the Scenes of the Ad Campaign for 23andMe’s $99 DNA Test” – a brief look at how 23andMe is trying to recruit 1 million new customers. The article features a handful of tv spots, and reveals that many of the actors took a 23andMe test.
Article #3 - “To Know You is to Really Know You” – some interesting statistics about 23andMe customers, including that they are 50/50 male/female, and … Click to read more!
Imagine the following scenario:
- You’ve just received an email that your DNA test results are ready, and you log into your account. The welcome screen guides you through a tutorial and presents you with several tabs to choose from.
- You click the first tab which reads “Your Ancestors.” The page shares information about 35 of your ancestors from the past 300 years, identified because you have inherited some of their DNA, although you have not yet provided any genealogical information to the testing company. Each of these ancestors has their own profile page complete with dates, family members, and other information such as computer-generated images and a health report which are based on a genome reconstructed entirely from modern-day descendants.
- You then click on the tab that reads “Your Reverse Family Tree,” which contains a partial family tree that has been constructed by the testing company. Based on extensive and well-documented genealogies, there is likely only one way in which the 35 identified ancestors can fit together in a tree (although other possible combinations are provided along with statistical probabilities). There are a considerable gaps, especially on your recent immigrant grandmother’s line, but the tree appears to be entirely consistent with your many years of traditional genealogical research. Well, except for the family of John G. Rogers from the 1850’s; you’d copied that off the Internet years ago and never confirmed for yourself anyway.
- Next you click on “Your Cousins,” which contains numerous close and distant relatives in the database. Some of these cousins are Genetic Cousins (with whom you share DNA), and some of whom are Genealogical Cousins (with whom you share a genealogical relationship based on your generated family tree). There are numerous 2nd and 3rd cousins matches. There are also pending offers to join several citizen science and family research groups, including the “Descendants of Calvin Lane of Old Lyme, Connecticut” group, the “Family of German Immigrant Johann Kehl” group and the “Relatives of the American Franklin Family” group, each of which has a slightly different research goal.
- Lastly, you click on “Your Memberships,” which offers – among other things – a discount membership to the Daughters of the American Revolution based on your predicted descendancy from Revolutionary War veteran Jedidiah Johnson (although you don’t happen to share any of Jedidiah Johnson’s DNA, he’s in your generated family tree with an extremely high probability (95%)).
While the scenario I described above may sound like science fiction, it’s the inevitable future of genetic genealogy and is much, much closer than you might think (okay, maybe not the DAR offer!).
Next month at the American Society of Human Genetics 2013 meeting, researchers from AncestryDNA will present their work detailing the reconstruction of portions of the genomes of an 18th-century couple using detailed genealogical information and Identity-by-Descent (“IBD”) DNA segments from several hundred descendants of the couple in the AncestryDNA database. In other words, researchers identified several hundred descendants of a certain couple living in the 1700s and then used the DNA shared by those descendants to recreate as much of the couples’ genomes as possible.
The … Click to read more!
In addition to the information you received from 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, or AncestryDNA about your ancestry, there is a wealth of additional information still within in your DNA. Below (in alphabetical order) are some of the most popular and well-known tools for wringing every last bit of information out of your raw data, and maximizing the cost of your DNA test. Please note that I have not used or verified all of these apps; always use caution when providing information to an unknown recipient.
Apps, Extensions, Programs, and Websites:
- 23++ (http://23pp.david-web.co.uk/about/) (FREE) – An extension for the Google Chrome web browser that adds additional functionality to the 23andMe website. The extension especially adds a number of features to Relative Finder.
- 529andYou (http://goo.gl/FQSiwW) (FREE) – An extension for the Google Chrome web browser that works with 23andMe’s Family Inheritance: Advanced tool (found under Ancestry Labs or, in the new beta website design, under My Results, Ancestry Tools) to collect information about DNA matches. The information, which includes shared segment data, is stored in a local database on your computer.
- David Pike’s Utilities (http://www.math.mun.ca/~dapike/FF23utils) (FREE) – A comprehesive suite of tools for analyzing raw data, including searching for Runs of Homozygosity (ROHs), searching for shared DNA in two files, and several advanced phasing tools.
- DNAGedcom (http://www.dnagedcom.com) (FREE) – A suite of tools for 23andMe and Family Tree DNA customers. Users can download their matches, shared segments, and other data into a handy spreadsheet for further analysis.
- DNAMatch4iPad (http://www.dnamatch4ipad.com) ($) – A app for the iPad that is an “alternative to the use of conventional spreadsheets for the processing of autosomal DNA data.” Users download their match data from one of the testing companies in the form of a .CSV file and upload it to DNAMatch4iPad.
- GEDmatch (http://gedmatch.com/) (FREE) – A powerful suite of tools for 23andMe, AncestryDNA, and Family Tree DNA raw data. Users can compare their DNA to everyone else in the database or to a specific individual in the database, or perform numerous admixture analyses, phase their DNA, and much more.
- Genes & Us (http://www.genesand.us) (FREE) – A website for 23andMe users to “combine their genomes in order to better understand what disease risks most affect their family.” For example, a mother and father can link their 23andMe accounts to the site and determine the possible combinations for their children’s DNA. Appears to work with 23andMe’s new API offering.
- Genetic Genealogy Tools (http://www.y-str.org) (FREE) – An impressive and ever-growing list of advanced tools for analyzing raw data, including an X-DNA Relationship Path Finder, Ancestral Cousin Marriages, Autosomal Segment Analyzer, a DNA Cleaner, a SNP Extractor, My-Health, and many more! A terrific resource from Felix Jeyareuben Chandrakumar, an Australian software professional.
- Genetic Genie (http://geneticgenie.org/) (FREE) – A tool that analyzes your 23andMe results to perform a methylation gene analysis (“Methylation Analysis”). The site also provides a tool for a “Detox Profile” which looks for defects in the Cytochrome P450 detox enzymes. The site uses the 23andme API, so users can link their 23andMe account to the service.
- Genetrainer (https://www.genetrainer.com/) ($) – Users of 23andMe and Family Tree DNA can link their results to the Genetrainer service, which will then provide you with training plans and exercises personalized to the user.
- HIR Search (http://hirs.snpology.com) (FREE) – Once your raw data is entered in the database, you can find HIRs (half-identical regions) that you share with others in the database.
- Imputation Tools (http://mathgen.stats.ox.ac.uk/impute/impute_v2.html) and (http://faculty.washington.edu/browning/beagle/b4.html) (FREE) – Sometimes you find a SNP in the literature that isn’t tested by any of the big testing companies. Imputation allows you to determine the most probable genotype for that SNP based on the surrounding SNPs and a database of known sequencing results (such as the 1000 Genomes data). IMPUTE2, for example, is a computer program for phasing observed genotypes and imputing missing genotypes. See more about IMPUTE2 here, including a link to a script to convert your 23andMe raw data to a useable form. BEAGLE4 is similarly performs genotype calling, genotype phasing, imputation of ungenotyped markers, and identity-by-descent segment detection. Learn how to use BEAGLE4 here.
- Interpretome (http://esquilax.stanford.edu/) (FREE) – A collection of tools for analyzing 23andMe raw data using only a web browser (i.e., raw data is not uploaded). The tools include an admixture analysis, health information, and a Neanderthal calculator.
- Minor Allele Program (http://www.ianlogan.co.uk/23andme/23andMe_index2.htm) (FREE) – A tool to identify rare SNPs in your 23andMe or Family Tree DNA raw data. My own results are available here.
- mtDNA Haplogroup Analysis (http://dna.jameslick.com/mthap/) (FREE) – A terrific tool for predicting your maternal haplogroup using a variety of formats, including 23andMe raw data.
- NAT2PRED (http://nat2pred.rit.albany.edu) (FREE) – a tool for inferring human N-acetyltransferase-2 (NAT2) enzymatic phenotype from NAT2 genotype. In other words, a tool for predicting the function of your NAT2 enzyme (either slow, rapid, or intermediate) based on your DNA. The NAT2 enzyme is involved in activating and deactivating arylamine and hydrazine drugs and carcinogens, among other things.
- Promethease (https://promethease.com/ondemand) ($5) – Analyze your 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, or AncestryDNA raw data and build a report based on SNPedia. Reports contain information about health and ancestry as well as several other new options. A sample report is here.
- Segment Mapper (http://kittymunson.com/dna/SegmentMapper.php) (FREE) – A tool to show specific DNA segments in a graphic chromosome-style chart. This is a clever and powerful “mapping” tool. Learn more about the tool here.
- SNPTips (http://snptips.5amsolutions.com/) (FREE) – A Firefox browser extension that allows 23andMe customers to access their SNP genotype information without logging into their 23andMe account or leave the webpage they are browsing. Users can simply hover their mouse cursor over a SNP RSID on a webpage and, if that was tested by 23andMe, the SNPTips extension will provide a popup with the user’s genotype and some relevant links.
- SPA (http://genetics.cs.ucla.edu/spa/index.html) (FREE) – Spatial Ancestry analysis (SPA) is a method for predicting ancestry or where an individual is from using the individual’s DNA. 23andMe users can download the software and analyze their results with this admixture tool.
- The 23andMe Gene App at Livewello (https://livewello.com/23andme) ($19.95) – a Variance Report Software analyzes 23andMe Raw Data are reports on 300 SNPs for things like “Methylation Detox, Immune Factors, IgE, IgG disorders and much more.” Livewello is a Social Health Management Platform with customized App.
Did I miss anything? Do you have any suggestions or comments regarding the programs listed above? Feel free to let me know in the comments … Click to read more!
23andMe and Udacity today announced a new online course entitled “Tales from the Genome: Adventures in DNA, Identity, and Health,” a Massive Open Online Course (“MOOC”) directed at genetics. According to the website, students will learn about “fundamental principles of inheritance, gene expression, mutation and variation, development of simple and complex biological traits, human ancestry and evolution, and the acquisition of personal genetic information.” The class is labeled as being aimed at beginners.
Although not announced on the Udacity website, the course will be available beginning on September 30, 2013.
The “Tales from the Genome” class will be taught by Matthew Cook, Lauren Castellano, Joanna Mountain (of 23andMe), and Uta Francke (also of 23andMe). For more information, see the press release at Market … Click to read more!
At Salon, an article entitled “The college class that could reveal your real father” by Katya Cengel discusses a course at Stanford called “Genetics 210.” The class uses [entirely optional] 23andme testing to explore the many issues associated with genetic testing. Although the class is offered to both graduate and undergraduate students, the class is filled with mostly graduate students.
All students go through the informed consent process carefully, and have access to a genetic counselor and a psychiatrist (although according to the report not a single student has contacted the psychiatrist in the four semesters the course has been offered, and only two have contacted the genetic counselor).
The most interesting aspect of the article, to me, was the complication that identical twins … Click to read more!
Family Tree DNA has announced yet another new sale, with the popular Family Finder being available for only $99 for a limited time:
Dear Valued Customer,
Summer is once again upon us and it is time for our Sizzling Summer event! Our successful summers over the last two years have led us to offer you great values again this year.
We have been working with Illumina to offer our Family Finder autosomal test for only $99 during our summer event. In fact, if we receive enough orders at $99, Illumina may be able to help us keep it at this extremely low of rate of $99!
As you take advantage of our summer event, remember that the permanency of the $99 Family Finder test is actually in your hands!
Beginning on Thursday, June 27, 2013 and running until … Click to read more!