In a move that puts it in more direct competition with personal genomics companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA announced today that it will offer a large-scale autosomal test for genealogicalÂ purposes.Â The test, which will be available to the public in mid-March, will allow test-takers the opportunity to connect with matching family members across all genetic ancestral lines.Â The test will launch at a price of $249.
Although other companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme offer similar tests, members of the genetic genealogy community have lamented the fact that their databases are populated in significant part by people who have no interest in genealogy.Â Presumably, people who purchase the FTDNA test and become part of that database will be strongly motivated by genealogical interests, and thus will be interested in communicating with genetic relatives.
In October 2008, I reviewed an article by Dr. Alondra Nelson in the journal Social Studies of Science entitled â€œBio Science: Genetic Genealogy Testing and the Pursuit of African Ancestryâ€ (Social Studies of Science 2008 38: 759-783).Â The article was about the complex interpretation of the results of genetic genealogy testing by African-Americans and black British.Â Dr. Nelson is Associate Professor of Sociology at Columbia University in NY.
On Friday, an article by Dr. Nelson appeared in The Chronicle of Higher Education entitled “Henry Louis Gates’s Extended Family,” which is an introduction and review of the current PBS documentary miniseries Faces of America. Regarding the genetic testing aspect of the show, Nelson writes:
Both 23andMe and deCODEme (using my 23andMe data) have interpreted my SNP results to indicate that I have a greatly increased genetic risk for Type 2 Diabetes.Â This post interprets the information from both companies and applies some of the primary research that the companies relied upon to predict my risk.Â Hopefully, this information will be useful to me as I strive to more completely understand my own risk factors, and will be useful to others as an example of using SNP data to potentially understand more about your health.
I. The Genetics
My 23andMe analysis makes it clear that I have an elevated risk for type 2 diabetes:
And, upon clicking upon the link, I receive the following additional information:
deCODEme, which used my 23andMe data, provides a similar interpretation:
First of all, you have to make sure you’ve got the free Firebug plug-in installed. Right click on the little bug in the lower-right corner of your browser window, and choose “Enable all panels”.Â Then left click the same bug icon, which should make a whole new section appear at the bottom of the screen.
Whit Athey has announced publication of the Fall 2009 issue of the Journal of Genetic Genealogy.Â This is Whitâ€™s last issue as Editor, and Iâ€™d like to extend my sincere appreciation to him and all the work he has put into JoGG over the past 5 years.Â Every issue requires hours of work to coordinate reviews and format articles, among the many other aspects of publishing.Â Whitâ€™s tireless work has helped add so much to the field.
Iâ€™d also like to announce that with Whitâ€™s departure I will be assuming the position of Editor of JoGG.Â Iâ€™m excited about this endeavor, and I look forward to working with the members of JoGG as well as the authors of the most recent research in the field.Â So, if you have an article or even just an idea for an article youâ€™d like to discuss, please fee free to contact me (blaine_5 at hotmail.com, or blainebettinger at gmail.com).
Familybuilder, launched in 2007, is a genealogy company that ranks among the top 10 online genealogy services in the world with over 17 million users and over 120 million family tree profiles.Â Late last year the company began offering a genetic genealogy product, as I wrote about here on the blog (see â€œFamilybuilder Announces DNA Testingâ€).
Disclosure: This is a review of Familybuilderâ€™s Y-DNA service using a kit I received free of charge for purposes of this review.Â Please note that this is not meant to be an endorsement but merely a review of the Y-DNA service offered by Familybuilder.
The results of a Familybuilder Y-DNA test includes:
â€œThe Migration Map for you and your ancestors, your 17 Markers, your Haplogroup and the History of your DNA.Â In addition, the ability to share your results with family and friends on social networks such as Facebook and MySpace as well as a downloadable PDF (suitable for framing).â€
I recently received an interesting question from a reader (see this comment) about 23andMe’s Relative Finder, and thought it would be worth sharing the question and my answer with all my readers.
I’m a man who recently took a 23andMe test, and I have a question about Relative Finder. Another man who I match on 36 of 37 Y-DNA markers via Family Tree DNA also took a 23andMe test. We believe that we are third cousins, but this individual does not show up as related in Relative Finder, nor does he show any similarities in the Family Inheritance section. Does this mean that we are not related at all?
If two individuals do not share any DNA in the Family Inheritance section of 23andMe or do not appear as relatives in Relative Finder, this absolutely does not mean that they are not or cannot be relatives. It does suggest, however, that the two individuals might not share any DNA. Although your Y-DNA test suggests that you share a recent common male ancestor, it appears that apart from your Y chromosomes you do not share any other DNA.
Linda Avey, co-founder of 23andMe, has started a new blog entitled The Life & Times of Lilly Mendel. I’m looking forward to some interesting reading as Linda establishes the Brainstorm Research Foundation dedicated to the study of Alzheimer’s disease.
I’ve been playing with 23andMe’s Relative Finder this week, since it’s now in open beta. It’s been interesting hearing from 6th to 10th cousins from around the world, and we’re working to find ancestors in common. I’m looking forward to identifying – for the first time – a piece of autosomal DNA that came from a specific ancestor.
While in the beta period, the number of relatives is limited to 1000 (I currently have 173 with only 5 in the 3rd to 7th cousin range), and you can only contact other people who have opted in for the beta test. So if you have a 23andMe account, please opt in to the beta test via the following instructions (kind provided by Ann Turner):
1. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/user/profile/ and check the checkbox near “Name:” and click on the blue “Save Changes” button.
2. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/user/edit/privacy/ and UNcheck the checkbox near “I do not want to receive sharing invitations from anyone.”
3. Open the page https://www.23andme.com/you/relfinder/ and check the checkbox near “Highlight my profile in Relative Finder to show that I’m interested in making connections with potential relatives.”