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 January I wrote about Benjaman Kyle, an amnesiac who was found on August 31, 2004 next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.Â In that post, â€œUsing Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle,â€ I suggested that a Y-DNA test might be helpful in elucidating Mr. Kyleâ€™s biological surname.Â Y-DNA testing has shown to be highly useful for identifying unknown surnames (see here and here), and so I contacted Mr. Kyle to suggest the possibility.
The Results Are In
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kyle took a 67-marker test from Family Tree DNA.Â The results, announced it seems by Kimberly Powell of Kimberlyâ€™s Genealogy Blog, suggest that his surname might actually be POWELL or a variant thereof.Â His results are now part of the Powell Surname DNA Project as kit #140314 where he very closely matches the â€œJoseph Powell Group.â€Â See more here.Â From Kimberlyâ€™s post:
Iâ€™ve been working on a presentation regarding the future of genetic genealogy, and one aspect of that future is the ability to trace DNA (SNPs, mutations, haplogroups, etcâ€¦) through recent history as the result of combining extensive genomic sequencing with massive family tree information.Â Although the ability to do this will have many uses (both for genealogy and for personalized medicine), it will also raise a number of privacy issues, as a recent paper suggests.
A New Privacy Study
In â€œInferential Genotyping of Y Chromosomes in Latter-Day Saints Founders and Comparison to Utah Samples in the HapMap Project,â€ author Jane Gitschier uses a combination of FamilySearch (http://www.familysearch.org) and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (http://www.smgf.org/) to elucidate the Y-chromosome signature of two founders of the LDS Church.Â Gitschier then used that information to determine whether anyone who contributed DNA to the HapMap project was related to these individuals via the Y-chromosome (none appeared to be).Â However, Gitschier was able to predict the surname of many of the HapMap participants using these databases.
In November 2007 I estimated that as of that date 600,000 to 700,000 DNA testing kits had been sold by genetic genealogy companies and that the number was increasing by 80,000 to 100,000 kits per yearÂ (see â€œHow Big is the Genetic Genealogy Market?â€).Â I ended that article with a prediction:Â â€œAs the interest in genetic genealogy grows, I predict that the 1 millionth genetic genealogy customer will push the â€˜buyâ€™ button as early as 2009.â€
It seems my prediction might not have been too far off.Â This week, Family Tree DNA issued a press release stating that the company had recently received an order for the 500,000th testing kit.
FTDNA’s Press Release:
HOUSTON, February 9, 2009 (For Immediate Release) – Family Tree DNA (http://www.familytreedna.com), the world leader in genetic genealogy, announced today that it received its 500,000th DNA test order for genealogy and anthropology purposes.
23andMe and mondoBIOTECH announced at Davos (the World Economic Forum in Switzerland) today that they will work together to further the study of rare diseases.Â According to the press release (below), mondoBIOTECH will identify individuals suffering from certain rare diseases and sponsor their enrollment in the 23andMe Personal Genome Serviceâ„¢.Â Researchers will use the information collected to learn more about the potential causes of these rare diseases.
Linda Avey appeared on CNBC this morning to discuss the company and the partnership â€“ see â€œIt’s All in the Genes.â€
The Press Release:
Davos, Switzerland â€“ January 28th 2009 â€“ 23andMe, Inc., an industry leader in personal genetics, and Mondobiotech AG, a Swiss research company dedicated to the development of treatments for rare diseases, today announced at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, that they are collaborating to advance research of rare diseases.
I’ve long been interested in the success and long-term outlook of the genealogy market.Â Although altruistic genealogists have done immense amounts of work to transcribe and put records online, one of the strongest forces behind the digitization of genealogical records has been private profit-driven organizations.Â And these organizations, of course, rely on the viability of the market.
FTM Media Kit
Randy Seaver at Genea-Musings recently linked to Family Tree Magazine’s 46 page 2009 Media Kit, which contains extensive information about the genealogy market and the Family Tree Magazine audience.Â The report is filled with statistics about all facets of genealogy and genealogists, and the author(s) include links to all their primary information.
An international team of researchers have concluded that humans entered the Americas from Asia along at least two different paths.Â By studying two rare mtDNA haplogroups found in Native Americans â€“ D4h3 and X2a â€“ the researchers conclude that D4h3 spread into the Americans along the Pacific coast while X2a entered through the ice-free corridor between the Laurentide and Cordilleran ice sheets.
From the Press Release:Â â€œSix major genetic lineages account for 95 percent of Native American mtDNA and are distributed everywhere in the Americas,â€ said first author Ugo Perego, director of operations at SMGF. â€œSo we chose to analyze two rare genetic groups and eliminate that â€˜statistical background noise.â€™ In this way, we found patterns that correspond to two separate migration routes.â€
Note: there are some great X chromosome inheritance charts below – if you are unable to see them, be sure to click through to the original post!
Edit (06/17/2014) – Brighter, cleaner charts added below!
Most genetic genealogists have sent away their cheek swabs to learn about their mitochondrial DNA or their Y-DNA lines. Others have explored their autosomal DNA for ancestral information, a field that is growing quickly and will undergo rapid changes as the price of sequencing continues to fall.
Now genetic genealogists are beginning to discover the ancestral information locked away in the X chromosome. Indeed, X chromosome tests have been offered by companies such as Family Tree DNA for a number of years. Armed with some of this information as well as the advent of SNP chip information from 23andMe and deCODEme, genetic genealogists are making new discoveries in this very young arena.
Last week I had the opportunity to attend a lecture by Spencer Wells, director of the Genographic Project from National Geographic and IBM.
The talk was a Syracuse Symposium event, and the first big event ever to be held in Syracuse University’s new $110 million Life Sciences Center.Â I thought it was fitting that the first event to celebrate the future of the new life sciences building was a lecture that examined the collective genetic journey of mankind.
Dr. Wells began by giving the audience a very brief introduction about DNA and genetic genealogy.Â He included a great quote that “The question of origin is actually a question about genealogy.”Â For those that are not familiar with the Genographic Project, it was launched in 2005 and includes three primary missions:
Image via Wikipedia
New research from Mark Jobling’s lab at the University of Leicester suggests that Y-DNA can be used to determine a male’s surname.
I know, I know, this is obvious to anyone who is familiar with genetic genealogy.Â Just check out the many instances of this type of determination at ISOGG’s Success Stories website, for example.Â However, as you’ll see below, this research has resulted in some new and interesting information.
Dr. Turi King, who conducted the research, recruited over 2,500 men with roughly 500 different surnames to submit Y-DNA samples.Â The sample set included a group not sharing surnames as well as sets of men (between 2 and 180) who shared a surname (including recognized variants).Â She then typed 9 SNPs and 17 STRs.Â There’s much more information about this research at the Jobling lab’s website regarding this project.