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DNA Heritage Ceases Operations and Transfers Database to Family Tree DNA

DNA Heritage, a popular genetic genealogy company intiated in 2002, has ceased operations (although pending orders will be fulfilled).  The company’s website announced today that it is in the process of transferring their database and domains to Family Tree DNA.

Family Tree DNA, meanwhile, has announced that it records in the DNA Heritage database will only be placed into FTDNA’s database if the owner agrees to opt-in.  FTDNA has a series of FAQs related to the transfer available here.

The full text of the announcement is … Click to read more!

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A Review of Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder – Part II

Last week I wrote about the results of my Family Finder autosomal DNA test by Family Tree DNA (see “A Review of Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder – Part I“).  The Family Finder test uses a whole-genome SNP scan to find stretches of DNA shared by two individuals, thus identifying your genetic cousins (and will soon include the Population Finder analysis of admixture percentages).  I currently have over 33 genetic cousins in Family Finder, and I’m working with them to identify our common ancestor(s).

The Affymetrix microarray chip used by FTDNA includes over 500,000 pairs of SNPs located on the X chromosome and the autosomes (no Y chromosome SNPs).  Via SNPedia:

FamilyTreeDNA uses an Affymetrix Axiom CEU microarray chip with 3,269 SNPs removed (563,800 SNPs reported) for autosomal and X (but not Y or mitochondrial) ancestry testing for $289. Other sources have cited 548011 snps. This platform tests 1871 of the 12442 snps in SNPedia.

FTDNA states that the Family Finder test is not intended to be medical.  From the FTDNA FAQ:

Question: Is the Family Finder test medical?

Answer: No, it is not.

This is entirely accurate of course; FTDNA does not analyze the test results for health, traits, or other medically-relevant … Click to read more!

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A Review of Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder – Part I

Since late 2007, several “direct-to-consumer” or “DTC” genetic testing products have entered the marketplace, many of which offered some degree of autosomal ancestry analysis (including 23andMe, deCODEme, and Pathway Genomics, among others).

In early 2010, genetic ancestry testing company Family Tree DNA announced that it would begin offering a new genetic genealogy product (see “Announcing Family Finder – An Autosomal Test From Family Tree DNA”).  The new product, called “Family Finder,” is one of only a very few autosomal genetic genealogy tests available to consumers.

The Family Finder test uses an Affymetrix microarray chip that includes over 500,000 pairs of locations called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in your autosomal DNA.  Once the SNPs are analyzed, FTDNA detects linked blocks of DNA that indicate a common ancestor.  The number and size of these linked blocks is used to determine how recently or closely two people are related.  From the Family Finder FAQ … Click to read more!

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How Neanderthal Are You?

On May 6, 2010, the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany presented the world with a draft of the genome sequence of the Neanderthal (press release here (pdf) and full article here (free), NYT article here).  As part of the announcement, the team presented their conclusion that 1% to 4% of the genome of non-Africans is derived from Neanderthals:

“An initial comparison of the two sequences has brought some exciting discoveries to light. Contrary to the assumption of many researchers, it would appear that some Neandertals and early modern humans interbred. According to the researchers’ calculations, between one and four percent of the DNA of many humans living today originate from the Neandertal. ‘Those of us who live outside Africa carry a little Neandertal DNA in us,’ says Svante Pääbo.  Previous tests carried out on the DNA of Neandertal mitochondria, which represents just a tiny part of the whole genome, had not found any evidence of such interbreeding or ‘admixture.’”

Once this study came out, I knew it was only a matter of time before companies began offering tests that examined the percent of Neanderthal contribution to a test-taker’s genome.

The Neanderthal Index

In May 2010, DNA Consultants began offering a test called the Neanderthal Index.  Priced at USD $90.00, the test purports to “estimate how much Neanderthal is in your ancestry.”  From the test description:

“Created in response to the phenomenal interest generated by the revelation in scientific journals on May 8, 2010 that most humans are part Neanderthal (Green et al), our autosomal DNA Neanderthal Index can be added to your DNA Fingerprint Test or DNA Fingerprint Plus. It reports any strong matches you have with populations identified as Archaic, those preserving the earliest earmarks of interbreeding between Neanderthals and humans (Homo sapiens sapiens). The stronger the match the higher the likelihood that your ancestors gave you Neanderthal genes.”

The site also provides an FAQ page, and a sample test result (pdf).  The test returns results on a scale of 0.1 to … Click to read more!

1

GeneTree Adds New Services

The following is a press release from GeneTree:

New GeneTree Services Enable Users to Make Sense of Genetic, Genealogy Information

  • New GeneTree Products and Services Focus on Making Genetic, Family History Information Comprehensible and Meaningful to Users
  • As a wholly owned subsidiary of Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, GeneTree is able to Leverage the World’s Most Comprehensive Collection of Correlated Genetic and Genealogical Information on Behalf of Users
  • Re-Designed Web Site Includes Enhanced Content and Features

SALT LAKE CITY (March 31, 2010) – GeneTree today announced that the company has launched a new product offering of integrated genetic and genealogical services unique in the marketplace for its ability to expand users’ knowledge of their genetic and family history connections. The company also announced it has significantly revamped its Web site, www.genetree.com.

GeneTree’s comprehensive new service offering focuses on integrating two essential sources of human identity: quality genetic tests and industry-standard family history consulting services. In contrast to providers that focus exclusively on … Click to read more!

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Faces of America and Genetic Genealogy Testing

Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings (“I’m Puzzled by DNA Claims on ‘Faces of America’”) writes about the fourth and last episode of “Faces of America,” 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 show’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 Henry’s (“Skip’s”) genome for medical conditions and physical traits, and also compared his DNA to his father’s, thereby allowing them to deduce the entire DNA contribution from his deceased mother. This segment … Click to read more!

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Pathway Genomics: A Review

Pathway Genomics

Kevin Davies, Ph.D., currently the Editor-in-Chief of Bio-IT World, recently wrote an article about Pathway Genomics in which he reviewed the company’s Health Test product (see “Pathway and Me: Consumer Genomics Firm Delivers First Results”):

“Earlier 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.”

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, … Click to read more!

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Thank You: The Genetic Genealogist Named Among Family Tree Magazine’s 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Family Tree Magazine 40 Best Genealogy Blogs

Late last fall, Family Tree Magazine requested nominations for the best genealogy blogs, and then opened voting for the nominated list.  Yesterday, they announced the winners of the voting.  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.  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 … Click to read more!

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Announcing Family Finder – An Autosomal Test From Family Tree DNA

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 genealogical  purposes.  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.  The test will launch at a price of $249.

The Family Tree DNA Family Finder site is now online.

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 … Click to read more!

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Hacking Admixed 23andMe Ancestry Paintings

DAVIDE at the European Genetics and Anthropology Blog has an interesting post regarding 23andMe’s Ancestry Painting, at “Taking a closer look at your inter-continental ancestry results at 23andMe.”  In the post, he describes how to “rummage through the Flash data behind the “Ancestry Painting” presentation” to learn more about the SNPs involved an admixed Ancestry Painting.  The post includes the incredibly simple directions:

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”.  Then left click the same bug icon, which should make a whole new section appear at the bottom of the screen.

Go to the “Ancestry Painting” page, and wait till it loads up your “Chromosome View”.  Once it does, select “Response”, and you should get the following link in bold within your new section: POST https://www.23andme.com/you/fetchpaint.  Click on it and the desired data should appear.

Hacking My Results:

Let’s use the technique to look at my own results (as I’ve mentioned before, I’m not concerned about sharing my results publicly).  Here is a snapshot of my Ancestry Painting:

image
And here are my results using the Firebug plug-in:
23andmeA
According to the Ancestry Painting (and now the Firebug results), I have Asian segments on chromosomes 2, 6, 10-13, and 17-19, with chromosome 6 … Click to read more!