Welcome to the November 4, 2007 edition of the Carnival of Genealogy.The topic for this edition was actually more of a questionâ€¦ 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 youâ€™ve ever considered using DNA to analyze your ancestry, youâ€™ll want to read all the way through this Carnival!
I wanted to start off with a post from the footnoteMaven entitled â€œAsk The Genetic Genealogist.â€In the post, she refers to me as â€œDr. DNAâ€ â€“ I could really get used to that!The footnoteMaven has a cousin on her fatherâ€™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 and one bad copy â€“ one from each parent.Since this is autosomal DNA, the traditional tool of genetic genealogy, Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, wonâ€™t be of much help.There are a number of DNA testing companies that will sequence the hemoglobin gene to check for mutations, but testing your cousinâ€™s siblings wonâ€™t reveal which parent had the mutated gene.It would be best to test the parents, but they have passed away.Unfortunately, answering your mystery would most likely be very expensive and time-consuming, at least at the current stage of technology.In 5 to 10 years, as whole genome sequencing becomes cheaper, it might be a much easier project.There are some autosomal genealogy tests which purport to reveal ancestral origins (such as Africa, Europe, Asia, etc..), but this would not reveal any information about the source of the mutated hemoglobin gene.
I recently took a few moments to stitch together some of my favorite and most-visited posts from the blog into an easy to read eBook. It has a wide array of posts for anyone interested in DNA, including people who are new to genetic genealogy and those who have had experience in the field. The title is:
10 DNA Testing Myths Busted, and Other Favorite Posts
The eBook, which is in pdf form, can be downloaded from the following link. Feel free to put it on your website or email it to anyone you think might be interested. I think you’ll find that it’s full of interesting material!
In addition to being one of the Founding Fathers of the United States, Franklin was a politician, printer, scientist, inventor, diplomat, and author.DNA testing has elucidated the origins of Benjamin Franklin’s mitochondrial DNA through his mother Abiah Lee Folger, who had six sisters. One of those sisters, Doras Folger, passed on her mtDNA to her 9th-great granddaughter, Charlene Chambers King. Sequencing of Ms. King’s mtDNA revealed that she belonged to mtDNA Haplogroup V with the following mutations: T16298C, 315.1C, 309.1C, A263G, and T72C.Haplogroup V (known as “Velda” by Sykes) is believed to have originated in Europe about 12,000 years ago, possibly in Iberia. About 4% of Europeans contain Haplogroup V mtDNa.So far, no known source of Benjamin Franklin’s Y-DNA or autosomal DNA has been discovered (although some believe that his tooth might provide the answer).
In order to clean out posts I’ve been saving in Google Reader (does anyone else keep posts in Reader until you’ve blogged about them?), I decided to have a potpourri day. The following are links to interesting articles around the blogosphere. And Happy Halloween!
Pedro at Public Rambling has The Fortune Cookie Genome, a ‘science fiction’ post about picking up the results of his whole genome scan from his genetic advisor. Of course, it’s only science ‘fiction’ until it’s science ‘reality’!
The Women’s Bioethic Project has an article about DNA Testing Without Consent, which asks whether there should be a ‘reverse’ statute of limitations for testing DNA from famous dead people. The article was written in response to a recent story in Parade. I talked about this briefly back in August (see “DNA From the Dead“), and I’m working on a post about “Discarded DNA and the Constitution”, so stick around. HT: Eye on DNA.
David Hamilton at VentureBeat: Life Sciences recently wrote about the potential business plans of two popular genomic companies – Navigenics and 23andMe. It appears that the post was motivated by the recent article in Portfolio. David writes:
“Over the last few months, startups like 23andMe and Navigenics have attracted a fair bit of attention for promising to let ordinary people search through their own genomes to better understand their disease risk, genealogy and ancestry. One of the first major efforts to figure them out, however â€” courtesy of the November issue of Portfolio â€” left me with the distinct impression that these companies may not actually be anywhere near as revolutionary as they seem.”
There’s some discussion in the comment section, and David presents a number of links to the many previous articles he’s written about 23andMe and Navigenics.
That’s the title of an article at BBC News yesterday. The article’s header states that:
“More and more people in the UK are following America’s lead in spending hundreds of pounds on private genetic tests.”
The article is about genetic testing for health concerns, not for genealogical purposes. Although the article is very short, the author does manage to highlight a few of the potential benefits and downfalls of genetic testing.
DNA Heritage is hosting a video contest for people who have undergone DNA testing for ancestral purposes. Following are the details of the contest:
Dear Customer,Thank you for all of your suggestions for improving the website which we have put into motion. Among them is flexible DNA storage, which we shall implement at the end of this month (we’ll let you know when).Spotted the video link on our home page? We wanted to hear about your own experience.Have a story to tell?
Want to tell people why you took a DNA test or what it told you about you and your family? How has it helped your research? How did you do it and what did you get out of it?
Tell us by video and we’ll give you 50% off your next test, be it for you, a friend or some distant cousin in another part of the world. Not a bad Xmas present for a few minutes work…
If we think it’s the best one we’ll give you three free tests.
1.Genetic genealogy is only for hardcore genealogists.
Wrong!If youâ€™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 fatherâ€™s Y-DNA, this is a 200% improvement.Now add your motherâ€™s mtDNA, and so on.However, with this in mind, please note the next myth:
2.Iâ€™m going to send in my DNA sample and get back my entire family tree.
Last week there were a couple of other articles in the news about genetic genealogy:
1. Newsweek.com – “Shaking the Family Tree with Recreational Genetics.” The article is largely in response to last week’s article in Science (see my previous coverage). There are a number of interesting comments following the Newsweek article – I would recommend browsing through them if you have the time.
2. The Courier-Journal – “DNA Discovery.” The article is mostly about Oxford Ancestors.
As I mentioned earlier today, GeneTree has been redesigned, and actually launched this morning. There is a FAQ page, and a new blog. There’s also an extensive Press Room, with logos and screen shots – one of the most impressive I’ve ever seen.
So what is GeneTree? According to the FAQ:
“GeneTree is a family history sharing site created to help people everywhere understand how their personal stories belong within the framework of the greater human genetic story â€“ by discovering their genetic heritage and identity, connecting and collaborating with living relatives, and sharing meaningful information and perspective through personal stories, photos, video and documents.”
I’m sure there will be a lot of media coverage today and over the course of the week, but here is an article at Computerworld. Following is the official press release: