Should We All Be Testing Our DNA?

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.

A Contest From DNA Heritage

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.

Two runner-ups will get a free test each.

And you get to choose the test be it a Surname DNA, Paternal Roots or Maternal Roots test.

The Rules.

  • Have fun with it
  • Much like international figure skating, points are awarded for transitions, performance/execution, choreography/composition and interpretation
  • Must be somewhere between 1 and 5 minutes long
  • Must mention us by name
  • You can name-drop Ybase too
  • Let us upload it our site and to sites like YouTube etc.
  • Email it to us before December 1st 2007 we’ll judge it right after that in time for Xmas
  • The tests need to be used by the end of February 2008
  • Accepted in WMV, AVI, MOV, MPEG and MP4 formats – pretty much anything

Best of luck to all you budding Cecil B. DeMilles!

Sincerely,
Alastair Greenshields
Principal
DNA Heritage
17

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 sample and get back my entire family tree.

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Genetic Genealogy in Newsweek and The Courier-Journal (Kentucky)

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.

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Sorenson Genomic’s GeneTree Launches

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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 – 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:

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Roots – Chris and Alex Haley’s DNA, and the Launch of JeanTree (GeneTree.com)

At the 2007 Federation of Genealogical Societies Conference in August, Alex Haley, the nephew of the Chris Haley – the author of “Roots”, joined the many people who have tested their DNA for ancestral information.  It turns out that his Y-DNA is of European origin.

There’s a post at Megan’s Roots World, a news report at KUTV.com, and the video of Alex swabbing his cheeks for DNA from Roots Television:

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The article at KUTV also contains what MUST be a mistake:

“Next week, The Sorenson Cos. plans to roll out a separate DNA-based Web site called jeantree.com. Chief Executive James L. Sorenson declined to discuss details Tuesday, although it will rely on a larger DNA database.”

Either Sorenson is planning to sell denim-related products, or the journalist misunderstood “Genetree.com”. Stay tuned for further details about the re-launch of this site.

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The Genetic Genealogy Community Responds to Last Week’s Article in Science

 

Last week I provided an analysis of the article in Science, “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, which examined the benefits and pitfalls of genetic genealogy.

There’s been considerable discussion of the article and the author’s conclusions at the Genealogy-DNA mailing list. One of the most interesting posts was by Kim Tallbear, a long-time member of the list and co-author of the Science article. The post, “Response to Genetic Genealogists From Authors of Oct. 19th Science Article“, is important reading for anyone who is following the development of this story. The following is a quote from Dr. Tallbear’s post:

“We orginally had language in the article that noted the expertise of genetic genealogists such as some of you on this list. (My interactions on this listserv taught me well that there is a good deal of expertise here.) But with space constraints the editors cut that language.)”

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First 60 Minutes, Now Scientific Journals – Genetic Genealogy in Today’s Science

Today’s issue of Science contains a new look into the world of genetic genealogy. “The Science and Business of Genetic Ancestry Testing“, led by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin, examines the benefits and drawbacks of genetic genealogy. Here is a table summary of the researcher’s conclusions:

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Table from: “Deep Roots”” at www.utexas.edu/features/2007/ancestry/.

One interesting fact from the article is that the number of people who have purchased genetic genealogy tests is estimated to be over 460,000! If you would like to read more about this study, there are a number of other sources of information, including a press release from The University of Texas at Austin, where the first author, Deborah A. Bolnick, is assistant professor of anthropology. There is also a feature story at The University of Texas’ website. In this feature story, Dr. Bolnick states:

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DNAPrint and Bioserve – 600,000 Genetic Genealogy Tests

Genome Technology Online mentioned the new partnership between DNAPrint Genomics, Inc. and BioServe, a company that offers “the Global Repository®, a growing library of over 600,000 human DNA, tissue and serum samples linked to detailed clinical and demographic data from 140,000 consented and anonymized patients from four continents.”

As part of the partnership, DNAPrint will analyze the 600,000 human samples in the Global Repository using the ANCESTRYbyDNA test.According to Richard Gabriel, the CEO and President of DNAPrint Genomics:

“By removing the question of ancestry from a clinical sample researchers can more readily evaluate which medicines will produce side effects within certain ethnic groups, and which medicines will work for the widest spectrum of a population.”

... Click to read more!

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