Over at The Legal Genealogist (one of my favorite new blogs!), blogger Judy Russell, J.D., CG discusses Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA testing service in “Science and the “10th” cousin.”
As I noted in a recent blog post (see “WDYTYA Reveals More Information About Ancestry.com’s New Autosomal DNA Testing“), autosomal DNA testing was featured in the recent episode of Who Do You Think You Are with actor Blair Underwood. After revealing Mr. Underwood’s biogeographical estimates (74% African American and 26% European), they revealed a genetic cousin found in the Ancestry.com’s database:
The service identified a distant cousin (somewhere around the 10th cousin range) who lived in Cameroon (an Eric Sonjowoh). Mr. Sonjowoh was already in the Ancestry.com database, which is why they were able to compare him to Mr. Underwood. According to Eric, someone approached him in 2005 and asked him for his DNA because African Americans were trying to trace their family back to Cameroon. I’m not sure what database the DNA was in, but it shows that Ancestry.com has pre-populated its database with at least some samples from other public and/or proprietary data sources.
[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.
From my Twitter account (blaine_5), here are my tweets from the past few weeks (Feb. 4 – Feb. 20th), most of which are about genetic genealogy and personal genomics:
“Genetics and privacy” at john hawks weblog (@johnhawks
) – “‘Privacy advocates’ seem like they’re living in the 1980’s” Feb 14, 12:19pm via HootSuite
(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.
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.
An independent group of scientists has recommended that the Department of Defense (“DoD”) obtain and sequence the genomes of members of the military.
JASON, a group of between 30 and 60 scientists and created in 1960 which advises the U.S. government on scientific and technological issues, authored the report entitled “The $100 Genome: Implications for the DoD,” (pdf) which was released on January 13, 2011.
In the report, the scientists provided the following recommendation:
“The DoD should establish policies that result in the collection of genotype and phenotype data, the application of bioinformatics tools to support the health and effectiveness of military personnel, and the resolution of ethical and social issues that arise from these activities. The DoD and the VA should affiliate with or stand up a genotype/phenotype analysis program that addresses their respective needs. Waiting even two years to initiate this process may place them unrecoverably behind in the race for personal genomics information and applications.”
Robert Estes of DNAeXplain announces the discovery of a previously-undiscovered Native American haplogroup. Up to the current point, research had found only two Y-DNA haplogroups in the Native peoples of North and South America – C3b and Q1a3a (aka Q1a3a1). However, new research described in the accompanying paper (here (pdf)) uncovers a third haplogroup found in Native peoples.
From the paper:
“For the past decade, since the advent of genetic genealogy, it has been accepted that subgroups of haplogroup C and Q were indicative of Native American ancestry. Specifically, subgroups C3b and Q1a3a, alone, are found among the Native peoples of North and South America. Other subgroups of haplogroup C and Q are found elsewhere in the world, not in North or South American, and conversely, C3b and Q1a3a are not found in other locations in the world. This makes it very easy to determine if your direct paternal ancestor was, or was not, Native American. Or so it seemed.”
ScienceNews reports that researchers led by Eske Willerslev at the University of Copenhagen are attempting to sequence the genome of legendary Native American “Sitting Bull” (see “Genome of a Chief”).
Earlier this year (2010), Eske Willersleve announced the successful sequencing of approximately 80% of the genome of “Inuk,” a man from Greenland who left behind a few small fragments of bone and four hairs frozen in permafrost when he died about 4,000 years ago (see “Long-Locked Genome of Ancient Man Sequenced”). Using these ancient DNA sequencing techniques, Willersleve’s group is analyzing DNA from other samples.
One of these samples is a lock of hair from Sitting Bull.
Sitting Bull (c. 1831 – Dec. 15, 1890) was a Hunkpapa Lokota Sioux born in South Dakota. Sitting Bull played an important role in the June 25, 1876 Battle of the Little Bighorn, and later toured as a performer in Buffalo Bill’s Wild West show.
I was recently asked to participate in a discussion with Dr. Deb Neklason, Ph.D on the satellite radio channel “Doctor Radio,” hosted by Dr. Ira Breite. We largely spoke about a 2008 study, led by Dr. Neklason (who I thought did a wonderful job of explaining the science and results in layman’s terms during the show), in which it was concluded that a gene that often causes cancer traces back to a Mr. and Mrs. George Fry who came to America in 1630. I have a write-up of the study here (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2008/01/03/a-single-colon-cancer-gene-traced-to-1630-the-future-of-genetic-genealogy/). There was also some brief discussion of mtDNA testing and the future of personal genomics.
Here is Dr. Breite’s description of this morning’s show: