[Update (2/24/12): Some genealogy forums are reporting that callers to Ancestry.com are being told that the autosomal DNA test will publicly launch in approximately 1 month (late March or early April).]
Tonight’s episode of Who Do You Think You Are? featured African-American actor Blair Underwood. For those not familiar with Who Do You Think You Are, the 1-hour program examines the genealogy of a celebrity, typically focusing on one or two of their most interesting families.
This episode was of particular interest to me because it featured Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA testing service, which I’ve written about before (see “Ancestry.com’s Autosomal DNA Product – An Update”). While there wasn’t too much new information about the DNA product in this episode, it was an interesting sneak peek at the service.
(I almost titled this post as “23andMe Bringing New Blood to Marketing,” but there’s nothing worse than a bad pun!).
Business Insider is reporting (“Sergey Brin’s Wife Is Hiring A Marketing Team For Her Gene Startup“) that 23andMe is looking to increase the marketing of their services.
In an interview with Business Insider, Anne Wojcicki reported that the company is creating a marketing team. Indeed, I’ve seen at least one marketing position (VP of Marketing) offered by 23andMe in several locations over the past 2 weeks (see here and here, for example). It looks like it would be a very interesting and fun position.
The article also notes that as of October 2011, the 23andMe database officially had 125,000 subscribers.
As I’ve stated many, many times in the past, the future of genetic genealogy is combining test results with both family trees and paper records.
Today, MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA announced a partnership that will bring that future one step closer to reality. MyHeritage will offer a full line of tests (13 in total) through FTDNA, including these basic introductory tests (with discounts – not shown below – for MyHeritage subscribers):
- Y-DNA12 (12 Y-STR markers) – $99
- mtDNA (HVR1 region) – $99
- Family Finder (autosomal test) – $298
The FAQ page for the tests is here (and I note that although they currently do not allow import of test results from other providers, they plan to in the future). I wonder if existing FTDNA test-takers can import their results?
Given MyHeritage’s worldwide reach and enormous membership (62 million members around the world!), it will be interesting to see whether this new partnership expands genetic genealogy testing in other parts of the world, which have been slow to try this technology.
Direct-to-consumer DNA testing has led to the re-joining of yet another family.
Y-DNA and autosomal testing by Family Tree DNA has revealed that two NFL players , Xavier Omon (San Francisco 49ers)) and Ogemdi Nwagbuo (San Diego Chargers), are half-brothers. ESPN has a long write-up of the story at “A brothers’ tale for Omon, Nwagbuo.”
Meeting for the First Time
The brothers had planned to meet face-to-face yesterday, September 1, 2011, as their teams met on the field. Turns out Omon’s team, the 49ers, were victorious, meaning that if he’s anything like my brothers, he gave Nwagbuo a hard time about it! The Mercury News has a story about the brothers’ first meeting at “Omon meets half-brother (a Charger) for first time,” and the SF Gate has a story at “49ers’ Xavier Omon meets half-brother.”
As you may have heard, I recently made my 23andMe and Family Tree DNA autosomal testing results available for download online at “mygenotype,” and dedicated the information to the public domain (if dedicating DNA sequence to the public domain is even possible – I’m currently doing some research in this area and expect to write more in the future).
At “mygenotype” you can download the following:
My Family Tree DNA Results:
- Affymetrix Autosomal DNA Results (2010)
- Affymetrix X-Chromosome DNA Results (2010)
- Illumina Autosomal DNA Results (2011)
- Illumina X-Chromosome DNA Results (2011)
My 23andMe Results:
- V2 Results (2008)
- V3 Results (2010)
- Y-DNA Results (2010)
- mtDNA Results (2010)
You can also find my SNPedia Promethease reports:
In addition to my genome, Razib Khan of Gene Expression has a spreadsheet of approximately 48 other genomes that are available for download online.
A Challenge To YOU
Now that the information is out there, available to anyone who might be interested, it remains to be seen who might be interested in the information.
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 below:
As of April 19 2011, DNA Heritage has ceased its operations and is in the process of transferring the domains DNAHeritage.com and Ybase.org to Family Tree DNA.
All the tests in progress will be processed by our current lab and the results will be delivered to our customers.
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.
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 page:
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.'”
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 anthropological deep ancestry, GeneTree’s product and service offering is designed to help people discover near-term family connections in the last six to ten generations as well as deep ancestral connections.