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Genetic Genealogy Reporting by Non-Scientists – Be Cautious!

The Guardian, a newspaper based in England, recently published an article about genetic genealogy entitled “The appliance of science.“It’s an interesting article that looks at the pros and cons of genetic testing for genealogical purposes.

The journalist quotes Chris Pomery, author of the up-coming book “Family History in the Genes: Trace Your DNA and Grow Your Family Tree.”

“In specific cases, genetics is a very useful tool, but it is not a panacea,” he says. “We’re not even close to the situation where, if you’re starting to research your family history, you should begin with a DNA test. At £100 or so a throw it’s a lot of money, and you can progress your research a long way first for free.”

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Genetic Genealogy Advice for Newbies, Part II

Yesterday we began to look at an email conversation I had recently with Jasia from The Creative Gene about genetic genealogy.

Jasia began by asking whether she should test both her and her mother’s mtDNA (I advised her no, because they would be the same sequence), and then we talked about testing her father’s mtDNA. Since her father could not be tested directly, Jasia wondered if her brother could provide a sample of her father’s mtDNA. I explained that although her brother could provide a sample of her father’s Y-DNA, she would have to find other sources for her father’s mtDNA, including her father’s sisters or brothers, or the children of her father’s sisters. She responded:

“Fortunately, my dad came from a large family including 6 sisters 4 of which had children. So I have cousins a plenty and can probably find one of them to help me out with a little saliva ;-)

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Genetic Genealogy Advice for Newbies, Part I

This week I had a terrific email conversation with Jasia from The Creative Gene about genetic genealogy.She left a comment on a recent post, Discovering My Maternal Roots, which asked:

“I’m a complete neophyte about DNA for genealogy. I’m wondering if there is any reason to test myself, and my mother. Since the mtDNA seems to trace the maternal line… is it enough to test just one of us or is there something to be learned by testing both of us?”

This is a great question, one that many people who are new to genetic genealogy ask.Understanding how mtDNA and Y-DNA are inherited is one of the most challenging aspects of genetic genealogy.I always think of them as mirror images; if you chart your family tree, the Y-DNA travels down the far left line (from your father’s father’s fathers’ father…) while the mtDNA follows the far right line (from your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother…).Here is my response to her comment:

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