A lot of people write me to ask me questions about genetic genealogy, and a few have asked if there are any books on the subject that might help them learn more about it.Â I thought I should provide a list of great reading material to help someone who might not have time to ask (but keep the questions coming!).
Great beginner books which are specifically about genealogy and DNA:
Trace Your Roots with DNA: Use Your DNA to Complete Your Family Tree by Megan Smolenyak and Ann Turner (Published October 7, 2004):
The Seven Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry by Bryan Sykes (Published July 9, 2001):
How to Interpret Your DNA Test Results for Family History & Ancestry: Scientists Speak Out on Genealogy Joining Genetics by Anne Hart (Published December 2002):
The DNA-NEWBIE mailing list is a great resource for people who are new to genetic genealogy or genetic testing in general. The list provides a forum for questions while promoting education and the sharing of ideas. I primarily use the mailing list to follow current trends or concerns in the field of genetic genealogy so that I can share them here on the blog.
The recent deluge of media attention regarding J. Craig Venter’s diploid genome sequencing prompted one list-member to quote Dr. Edward Rubin: “It’s not clear whether it’ll be 10 years or 50 years, but in our lifetime, [individual DNA sequencing ] will happen.” The list-member goes on to say that it will probably not happen in his lifetime since he turns 75 next month.
The results of a Y-DNA test are either a string of plusses and minuses, or a series of numbers.The plusses and minuses are the result of a SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) test and denote the testeeâ€™s Haplogroup, while the string of numbers are the result of a STR (short tandem repeat) test and denote the testeeâ€™s haplotype.
To learn more oneâ€™s haplotype, or to compare it to otherâ€™s results, most people enter those results into a database such as Ysearch, Ybase, SMGF, YHRD, or the Y-STR Database.To do this, however, it is sometimes necessary to â€˜normalizeâ€™ the numbers.For instance, one testing company might find a result of 27 for DYS481 while another finds a result of 23 on the same individual.This is typically due to different sequencing primers used by each company to characterize each particular STR.
Welcome to edition #13 of the Gene Genie. There were many interesting and exciting submissions for this issue, so I hope you do a little exploring and learn something new about genes, personal genetics, and personalized medicine.
Splicing Genes.Letâ€™s start off with something fun.I donâ€™t know if weâ€™ll ever try to splice our genes with those from famous or successful people, but hereâ€™s at least one conversation that might result!
With new genetic discoveries being announced every day, how does one keep up-to-date?Well, luckily we have a few helpful suggestions from our fellow bloggers.Scienceroll gives us 7 Tips: How to be up-to-date in genetics/genomics?And Clinical Cases and Images â€“ Blog adds to the discussion with 6 Tips on Staying Up-to-Date in Genetics (and Any Specialty).
In the past decade, scientists have repeatedly referred to ‘Mitochondrial Eve‘, the (hypothesized) source of mtDNA for all humans alive today. She is believed to have lived approximately 140,000 years ago in Africa. There is also ‘Y-chromosomal Adam‘, the (hypothesized) source of every living man’s Y-DNA. He is also believed to have lived in Africa, but more recently, between 60,000 and 90,000 years ago. Thus, Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromsomal Adam were not a couple – they were not the source of all human genetic material on the planet today. Instead, the terms refer to the founders of all the mtDNA and Y-DNA respectively.
For a wonderful description of some of the genetic behind Mitochondrial Eve and Y-chromsomal Adam, go to “The Questionable Authority“, a blog which is part of Scienceblogs. While you’re there, be sure to read the comments, where the discussion addresses the time disparity between the two DNA sources (140,000 years ago versus 60-90,000 years ago).
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I was recently interviewed by Hsien at EyeonDNA.Â She asked some great questions about the field of genetic genealogy, and I hope youâ€™ll check it out.
Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â I consider my new friendship with Hsien and other fellow bloggers to be one of the great successes of this blog, and I thank her for the opportunity to share my enthusiasm for genetic genealogy with her readers!
Often, at least at the current stage of genetic genealogy, DNA sequencing does not reveal enough information to identify a personâ€™s particular Y chromosome or mtDNA haplogroup.The example I will be using in this post is Haplogroup E.Haplogroup E split into E1, E2, and E3 about 28,000 years ago.Current tests offered by many sequencing companies are able to place a person in the general â€œEâ€ Haplogroup, but might be unable to determine exactly which subclade of E a person descends from.In such a situation, a â€œDeep SNPâ€ test can be used to fill in that information.
A SNP is single nucleotide polymorphism, or a change in the DNA sequence at a single nucleotide.For instance, the switch of a C for G, a cytosine for a guanine.You can see a chart of some of the most common SNPs tested for genetic genealogy here or here.The Deep SNP test (which can go by other names) analyzes a personâ€™s DNA, such as the Y chromosome, for the presence or lack of these mutation(s).
The following is an interview with Katherine Hope Borges, founder of ISOGG (The International Society of Genetic Genealogy), done at the 2007 SoCal Genealogical Jamboree. ISOGG has about 5,000 members and is growing rapidly. ISOGG has MANY great services on their website, including the “Founding Fathers DNA Page”, and an up-coming Presidential DNA page.
If you liked the video, there are lots more at Roots Television!! If you’re interested in genetic genealogy and haven’t checked out Roots Television yet, you don’t know what you’re missing.
Thanks to Megan for letting me snag this video!
The Genetic Genealogist has been invited to be a member of the new genetics blogging group The DNA Network
, founded by Rick Vidal of My Biotech Life
and Hsien Lei of Eye on DNA
. The group is “a network (double helix?) composed of life science enthusiasts with specialized views in areas such as genetics, biology, biotechnology, health care, and much more.”
Not only is the network a great way to discover new blogs, but it is an opportunity to stay current on events and developments in the field of genetics. The following blogs are currently members of the network:
My Biotech Life
DNA Direct Talk
Eye on DNA
Gene Sherpas: Personalized Medicine and You
henry: the human evolution news relay (genetics)
Mary Meets Dolly
Microarray and Bioinformatics
And me, The Genetic Genealogist.
Do you have a burning question about genetics that’s been keeping you up at night? Ever wonder why the combination of red hair and brown eyes is so rare? There are two great resources currently available online for anyone who is curious about genetics.
AsktheGeneticist is a partnership between the Department of Human Genetics at Emory University and theDepartment of Genetics at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.The mission of AsktheGeneticist â€œis to answer questions about genetic concepts, and the etiology, treatment, research, testing, and predisposition to genetic disorders.â€ AsktheGeneticist has a genetic genealogy section, but itâ€™s pretty sparse.
The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, California has partnered with the Department of Genetics at Stanford University to present â€œGenetics: Technology with a Twist.â€The interactive site has an â€˜Ask The Geneticistâ€™ section where you can ask a Stanford geneticist a question.