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The Genealogists

image Many people do not realize that the genetics of the future will rely heavily on the work done by previous, current, and future generations of genealogists. Researchers hoping to uncover links between a disease and a particular gene or mutation often recruit entire families or use compiled genealogical databases for information. Just a few of the recent examples of researchers benefiting from the work of genealogists include:

  1. Genizon BioSciences will examine genetic diseases using DNA from descendants of the Quebec Founder Population;
  2. A mutation believed to increase the risk of colon cancer was traced to a single family in the early 1600′s;
  3. A recent study pinpointing the mutation responsible for blue eyes used data from the Copenhagen Family Bank, and;
  4. Numerous studies published by deCODE, a company that uses an exclusive database of Icelandic genealogy (80% of all Icelandic people who have ever lived can be traced on family trees).

In honor of the contributions that genealogists have and will make to scientist’s understanding of the genetic basis of disease, and in honor of the many unique and well-written genealogy blogs, I created The Genealogists, a Feedburner network (subscribe via RSS here). The network, which helps unite genealogy bloggers and introduce new blogs to readers, currently has 18 … Click to read more!

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Where Was My Y-DNA and mtDNA in 1808?

A few days ago I wrote about John Reid’s “Where Has Your DNA Been” post at Anglo-Connections a few days ago. This is similar to another meme which has been circulating the genealogy blogosphere for a few weeks now, including “Where was your family in 1908?” at 100 Years in America and “Where was your family 200 years ago?” at What’s Past is Prologue. Steve at Steve’s Genealogy Blog has also given the ‘Map Your DNA’ meme a try. I thought it was a fun idea, and had a number of potentially interesting applications, if I were a programmer and if I had any free time. Absent that, I thought I would at least try to replicate John’s idea by mapping my location in 2008 versus the locations of my Y-DNA and mtDNA in 1808, 200 years ago.

First, my Y-DNA. The blue dot on the following map of New York State is the location of my … Click to read more!

3

About.com:Genealogy – 10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading

Kimberly Powell of About.com:Genealogy recently posted “10 Genealogy Blogs Worth Reading.” I was honored to see that I was included as one of those blogs, along with some outstanding company. The others are:

1. Genea-Musings – “Randy’s musings bring out the genealogist in all of us…”

2. The Genealogue – “His unique brand of genealogy humor puts a special spin on just about everything genealogy…” I was saddened to hear that The Genealogue is on temporary hiatus as the author deals with a family situation. I wish Chris and his family all the best and look forward to his return.

3. Ancestry Insider – “…provides the “insider” point of view you won’t easily find elsewhere.”

4. Creative Genealogy – “Through this blog she brings something new to family history enthusiasts…”

5. Genealogy Blog – “Topics run the gamut from genealogy news, press releases and new … Click to read more!

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Win A FREE Genetic Genealogy Test From The Genetic Genealogist!

DNA HeritageI started The Genetic Genealogist nearly a year ago, in February of 2007. To celebrate the approaching one-year anniversary of the blog, I am announcing a contest to give away a FREE genetic genealogy test from one of my sponsors, DNA Heritage.

Why offer a free genetic genealogy test? I know that there are many genealogists out there who are interested in genetic genealogy, but are reticent to spend the money for a test or think they know too little about genetic genealogy to buy a test. Hopefully, readers of The Genetic Genealogist know a lot more about the technology than they did before they were readers, and now one of you will win a free test! The winner may choose from the following tests offered by the company:

  1. The Y-chromosome STR (23 marker) Test valued at over $135
  2. The Y-chromosome SNP Test valued at $129 (sample report)
  3. The mtDNA Test (HVR-I, HVR-II, and HVR-III for a total of 1145 bases) valued at $219 (sample report).

The contest rules are below, but I wanted to point out that DNA Heritage … Click to read more!

Me? A GeneaAngel?

The footnote Maven created an ‘angelic’ collage of genealogy bloggers at “A Choice of GeneaAngels.” I was graciously included in the collage. Can you find me without looking at the list? Sure would be fun to hear us all sing together, wouldn’t it?

On a related note, the footnote Maven also started a Blog Caroling meme where we post the lyrics from our favorite Christmas carol. Since my favorite song was already taken, I thought I’d go with my second favorite. In high school my French teacher would have us sing Christmas carols in French and one of my favorites was the following:

Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella:

English Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella! Bring a torch, to Bethlehem come! Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village Mary has laid him in a … Click to read more!

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The Genetic Genealogy Timeline

tiemline.jpgGenealogists spend many of their days (and much of their money!) tracking the history of their ancestors. They hunt through ancient records to elucidate even the smallest clue as to some facet of their ancestors’ lives. Since the majority of genetic genealogists started their journey as traditional genealogists, it is only natural that they enjoy record-keeping and tracking as well.

The DNA Genealogy Timeline is a free public resource maintained by Georgia K. Bopp and hosted by rootsweb.com. The timeline attempts to track the significant developments associated with genetic genealogy. It begins with “Before 1980″ and was updated most recently as of October 2007.

What immediately stands out is that genetic genealogy has been around much longer than people realize, especially given … Click to read more!

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Carnival of Genealogy, 35th Edition


Welcome to the November 4, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy. The topic for this edition was actually more of a question… Do you have a family mystery that might be solved by DNA? I offered to analyze a submitted post for questions or family mysteries that might be solved using genetic genealogy. There were a number of interesting and challenging articles, and everyone kept me very busy! If you’ve ever considered using DNA to analyze your ancestry, you’ll want to read all the way through this Carnival!

I wanted to start off with a post from the footnoteMaven entitled “Ask The Genetic Genealogist.” In the post, she refers to me as “Dr. DNA” – I could really get used to that! The footnoteMaven has a cousin on her father’s side who was recently diagnosed as having sickle cell trait. Sickle cell is caused by any one of a number of identified mutations of the hemoglobin gene on chromosome 11. Sickle cell trait means that the cousin has one good copy of the hemoglobin gene … Click to read more!

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10 DNA Testing Myths Busted

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1. Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists.
Wrong! If you’ve ever wondered about the origins of your DNA, or about your direct paternal or maternal ancestral line, then genetic genealogy might be an interesting way to learn more. Although DNA testing of a single line, such as through an mtDNA test, will only examine one ancestor out of 1024 potential ancestors at 10 generations ago, this is a 100% improvement over 0 ancestors out of 1024. If you add your father’s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement. Now add your mother’s mtDNA, and so on. However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:

2. I’m going to send in my DNA … Click to read more!

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A List of Books for the Genetic Genealogist


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.  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 … Click to read more!

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5 Reasons to Save Your Grandmother’s DNA – A Busy Day Re-post


1. You got those big blue eyes from your grandmother, but chances are you inherited less desirable genes as well. We inherit our DNA from our parents, who inherited it from their parents. Since we all possess genes that can cause or contribute to disease, knowing one’s DNA and family medical history can be a great resource for someone who learns they have a genetic disorder.
2. Full genome sequencing is right around the corner! The X-prize quest for the $1000 genome will lead to efficient and affordable whole-genome sequencing. As commercial companies crop up and compete for customer’s business, leading to even lower prices.
3. Your grandmother’s DNA contains clues to her ancestry. X-chromosome, mtDNA, and … Click to read more!