This is a little off-topic for The Genetic Genealogist, but I thought I would share this paper which I wrote for a Genetics & Ethics class this spring. The paper examines all the biological and behavioral limitations on the ability of humans to create so-called “designer babies” solely from selecting embryos before in vitro fertilization. Although many are worried about the impact of being able to choose which embryo to implant, the paper argues that the impact is significantly limited by a number of factors.
Note that this paper does NOT factor in the potential for creating designer babies by changing an embryo’s DNA; that’s a whole different can of worms!
The mtDNA of Otzi, the Iceman discovered in the Alps, was recently re-analyzed. The results suggest that the previous mtDNA sequence was contaminated by a modern mtDNA source, and that the mtDNA belongs to a previously unidentified subclade of Haplogroup K1. For more information, see Dienekes’ Anthropology Blog.
TruGenetics is a genomics company offering at least 10,000 free SNP scans to those who register at their website. Unlike most other personal genomics companies, TruGenetics users complete a survey to create a “personalized risk assessment survey.” Not surprisingly, the tests are currently not available to New York residents:
New York residents: We are currently working with your state authorities to receive permission to operate in New York. We cannot take your information at this time.
There is much more information at genomeboy.com and Genetic Future, including insight into TruGenetic’s business model. If you are considering this service, be sure to read and completely understand all the terms & conditions, as well as ALL potential outcomes. You can also follow twitterer “achamedian” to learn more.
One interesting quote from the article: “Of the half a million Americans who have purchased DNA tests, around 35,000 of them are African American.” Interesting article, although I at a complete loss for where the “35,000” number was obtained.
The article also includes some criticism from Deborah Bolnick of African Ancestry‘s interpretation of their genetic genealogy tests.
This is a video of a recent episode of Charlie Rose regarding personal genomics. The show includes prominent members of the field, including George Church, Linda Avey, Anne Wojcicki, and Steven Pinker, among others.
An article in the United Arab Emirate newspaper The National (wikipedia) does a terrific job of highlighting recent research from Family Tree DNA.Â The story – â€œDNA could illuminate Islamâ€™s lineageâ€ â€“ discusses research that has attempted to elucidate the Y-DNA signature of Mohammed.Â Although Mohammed did not have a son, he had a daughter who married her paternal second cousin, thus passing to Mohammedâ€™s grandchildren the same Y-DNA.Â From the article:
â€œFor almost 1,600 years, the title Sharif, Sayyed, or Habib has been bestowed on Muslims who have been able to trace their roots back to the Prophet Mohammed through intricate family trees, oral histories and genealogical records. But now an American DNA lab says it may have identified the DNA signature of descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, and perhaps the prospect of a direct, more accurate means of confirming or identifying such a connection.â€
A quick digest of some of the most interesting news and developments in the field:
10 Great Blogs for Genetic Genealogists
I made this list of 10 Great Blogs for blogs.com a few months ago.Â It contains 10 blogs that I believe are vital reading for anyone interested in personal genomics, including genetic genealogy.Â Here are my picks, but check out the link for my description of each blog:
In addition to the articles published in the Journal of Genetic Genealogy (the Spring 2009 issue was just released), genetic genealogists have often assisted researchers publishing studies in other journals.Â This reinforces my suggestion to researchers that they interact with the genetic genealogy community to facilitate research.Â For instance, here is a quote from a new article in PLoS ONE examining the Y-DNA Haplogroup G:
A recent article by Ronald Bailey in reasononline asks whether genetic tests actually need more federal regulation.Â Itâ€™s probably clear that I strongly support the individualâ€™s right to their own genetic information via DTC testing, but this viewpoint is rarely seen or endorsed in the press.Â Bailey concludes:
â€œThere may well be some inaccurate tests and there will certainly be people who mislead customers about the meaning of certain tests. But do we really need additional federal regulation to weed out bad actors? Most evidence suggests that the current tests are fairly accurate, and that customers are not being misled by the results that are reported. All new technologies involve a societal learning process in which some early adopters try it out, explain to others how it works, and find out its flawsâ€”which newer innovators then fix.â€
SALT LAKE CITY (May 26, 2009) – GeneTree and Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF) today announced a special offer to the tens of thousands of men who donated their Y-DNA samples and pedigree information to the non-profit SMGF’s genetic genealogy database. At a deeply discounted price, participants now may access their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree and employ the site’s extensive tools, including the SMGF database, to search and connect with genetic relatives.
SMGF has been building the database-the world’s most diverse collection of genetic genealogy information-since 2000 through donation of DNA samples and four-generation genealogy questionnaires by people interested in helping the foundation succeed in its goal of connecting the human family through genetic genealogy. Until the launch of GeneTree in Oct. 2007, SMGF did not have a way to provide participants with their genetic profiles in a meaningful form. Now for $49.50, or about one-third of the typical price, SMGF participants can receive their Y-DNA profiles through GeneTree.
In January I wrote about Benjaman Kyle, an amnesiac who was found on August 31, 2004 next to a dumpster behind a Burger King in Richmond Hill, Georgia.Â In that post, â€œUsing Genetic Genealogy to Solve the Mystery of Benjaman Kyle,â€ I suggested that a Y-DNA test might be helpful in elucidating Mr. Kyleâ€™s biological surname.Â Y-DNA testing has shown to be highly useful for identifying unknown surnames (see here and here), and so I contacted Mr. Kyle to suggest the possibility.
The Results Are In
Shortly thereafter, Mr. Kyle took a 67-marker test from Family Tree DNA.Â The results, announced it seems by Kimberly Powell of Kimberlyâ€™s Genealogy Blog, suggest that his surname might actually be POWELL or a variant thereof.Â His results are now part of the Powell Surname DNA Project as kit #140314 where he very closely matches the â€œJoseph Powell Group.â€Â See more here.Â From Kimberlyâ€™s post: