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AncestryDNA Launches New Ethnicity Estimate

AncestryDNAThere has been much discussion (see here and here for a few examples) of the so-called “Scandinavian Problem” with AncestryDNA‘s ethnicity estimate, in which certain populations appeared to be over-represented in the reference panel utilized by Ancestry.com.  I, for example, have no documented Scandinavian ancestry, but had 78% Scandinavian.  Many others experienced the same issue.

The AncestryDNA team were well aware of the issues, and have been working on an update to their ethnicity algorithm, reference panel, and user interface.  Indeed, at “The First DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree” in June of this year, Ken Chahine (Senior Vice President and General Manager, DNA) gave a presentation in which he announced that the ethnicity calculations at AncestryDNA were undergoing a complete overhaul and a major update would be provided to all customers later this year.

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The First DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree

So here I am, sitting at the airport waiting for my first flight on the long journey back to NY from the first ever Family History and DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree.

The event was an incredible success, with stellar speakers, inspiring and entertaining talks from Spencer Wells and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and excellent organization and execution.

Below is just a brief summary of the highlights I believe are worth mentioning, but be sure to check out other posts that have or will come out soon, including this one from The Legal Genealogist, and this one from Dick Eastman.

(A side note: as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight from Newark to San Francisco, I looked up and saw a familiar face – Judy Russell from The Legal Genealogist! We shared the next two flights, although Judy was furiously dealing with an unfortunate hack attack on her website, which has since been resolved).

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Family Tree DNA Offers 12-Marker Y-DNA Test for $39 (Limited Time Only)

Yesterday, Family Tree DNA announced that their 12-marker Y-DNA test, normally $99, will be only $39 for a limited time only (until February 28, 2013).  Although I typically will recommend a minimum of 37 markers to clients and readers, this is a great way to get someone’s DNA into FTDNA’s system for future upgrades.  For example, I have at least two lines of my family that I’ve been wanting to get tested, but it’s really just for curiosity’s sake rather than any pressing genealogical question.  This would be the perfect opportunity for this type of testing.

See what others have written about the sale:

From the Press Release:

HOUSTON, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — FamilyTreeDNA.com, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene By Gene, Ltd., is dramatically lowering the price of one of its basic Y-DNA tests to $39, making it the lowest-cost DNA test available on the market, in order to take a major step toward universal access by individuals to their personal genetic data.

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Thought For the Day – Crowdfunding Genealogy

Wouldn’t it be fun to review detailed proposals about new genealogy projects and be able to provide funding to support those projects that you think are especially worthwhile?

Crowdfunding might be one way to do just that.  For those not familiar with “crowdfunding,” it is essentially a way for people to contribute a varying degree of money to a project they are interested in, usually in exchange for a special perk.  Wikipedia describes crowdfunding as:

Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.

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National Genographic 2.0 Results Received

I received my results from the Geno 2.0 test from National Genographic tonight.  The results align fairly well with what I already know about my DNA.  For example, I knew I was haplogroup A2 (a Native American haplogroup), but the A2w is new so I have to do some research there.

Even more interesting is my paternal haplogroup designation.  The NatGeo tests lists the terminal SNP instead of a haplogroup that will typically encompass multiple SNPs.  I am listed as R-Z306, which is R1b1a2a1a1a3a1 on the current ISOGG Y-DNA tree.  However, my results indicate that I am L1+, which is associated with Null439 (I previously knew I was null439).  Many believe that L1+ is downstream of Z306+, but these types of questions are exactly what the NatGeo 2.0 test will help determine.

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Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA

This weekend I had the privilege to review an advance copy of “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA,” a new book by author and genetic genealogist Richard Hill.  The book is currently available at Amazon only in paperback (link here: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA), although eBook versions will be available soon.

Many genetic genealogists are already familiar with Richard Hill and his website DNA-Testing-Adviser.com, where he shares information about using genetic genealogy to learn about your family, especially for adoptees and birth parents.  You may also be familiar with Mr. Hill through the front-page 2009 Wall Street Journal article detailing his search for his family, or from the 2009 article in the Grand Rapids Press (“Rockford man uses DNA testing, Internet searches to find his birth father“).

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The Genographic Project Announces Geno 2.0

Today, The Genographic Project officially announced the launch of their new Geno 2.0 project, a significant update to the type and quantity of genetic information that will be collected and analyzed by The Genographic Project.  The new project will use an entirely new SNP chip (the GenoChip) designed specifically for Geno 2.0 in order to provide the world’s most detailed information about Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups (using SNP information) as well as detailed biogeographical estimates and ancient population (Denisovan and Neanderthal) estimates.

As of today you can pre-order a Geno 2.0 kit, which is expected to ship no later than October 30th (although you can probably expect it earlier than that).

Once again Family Tree DNA will perform all the testing, and The Genographic Project has worked very closely with FTDNA to design, troubleshoot, and use the GenoChip.  FTDNA will perform both the Family Finder and the Geno 2.0 test.

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Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?

I’ve received a number of emails and comments (see, e.g., here) complaining about Ancestry.com’s new test, AncestryDNA.  Specifically, several test-takers believe that the Genetic Ethnicity Prediction provided by Ancestry.com does not reflect the numbers that they expected based on their own research.

For example:

“I just got my DNA test results back from Ancestry.com and I am concerned. I was born in England and I have gone back many generations and have found that all my ancestors as far back as the 1600′s in most cases are English.  According to the results I have no British Isles DNA. It states that I have 60% Central Europe, 30% Scandinavian and 7% Southern Europe. I also have 3% unknown. How can this be?”

“Just received my results: 21% Southern European and 79% Central European which doesn’t follow years of work on my family history.”

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The Genetic Genealogist Listed Among Top 50 Genealogy Blogs by Inside History Magazine

I just discovered today that The Genetic Genealogist was recently included in a list of 50 top genealogy blogs by Inside History Magazine.

Inside History Magazine is a periodical “for people passionate about Australian and New Zealand genealogy, history and heritage.”  The current May-June 2012 issue has an article entitled “Entering the Blogsphere” in which author Jill Ball (of Geniaus) writes about the prevalence of genealogy bloggers.  As part of the article, she compiled a list of 50 blogs that “every genealogist needs to follow.”

I’m honored that The Genetic Genealogist was included in this list, especially considering the others blogs, many of which I’ve been reading for years!

Be sure to check out Inside History Magazine and the many terrific blogs listed in the article.  Also, Jill just included a nice follow-up list of “the blogs that got away.”

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