So here I am, sitting at the airport waiting for my first flight on the long journey back to NY from the first ever Family History and DNA Day at the Southern California Genealogy Society Jamboree.
The event was an incredible success, with stellar speakers, inspiring and entertaining talks from Spencer Wells and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., and excellent organization and execution.
Below is just a brief summary of the highlights I believe are worth mentioning, but be sure to check out other posts that have or will come out soon, including this one from The Legal Genealogist, and this one from Dick Eastman.
(A side note: as I was sitting in the airport waiting for my flight from Newark to San Francisco, I looked up and saw a familiar face – Judy Russell from The Legal Genealogist! We shared the next two flights, although Judy was furiously dealing with an unfortunate hack attack on her website, which has since been resolved).
Press release from Family Tree DNA today:
Family Tree DNA’s Genomics Research Center Facilitates Discovery of Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree
— By Offering Low Cost DNA Test, Family Tree DNA Aims to Expand Reach of DNA Testing to Encourage Further Exciting Discoveries About Human Origins —
HOUSTON, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — Gene By Gene, Ltd., the Houston-based genomics and genetics testing company, announced that a unique DNA sample submitted via National Geographic’s Genographic Project to its genetic genealogy subsidiary, Family Tree DNA, led to the discovery that the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree is potentially as old as 338,000 years. This new information indicates that the last common ancestor of all modern Y chromosomes is 70 percent older than previously thought.
Earlier this week, Ancestry.com began releasing raw data to purchasers of the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA product. Several others have written great articles on AncestryDNA’s new raw data, so I’ll point you to their articles instead of rehashing everything here:
Within the next few weeks and months, you’ll be able to use the AncestryDNA raw data at places like Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.com.
But note an issue that I first brought up on a mailing list last Thursday when the announcement came out. The following language is found on the page after you click on the final download link:
The raw data is subject to the AncestryDNA Terms and Conditions and AncestryDNA Privacy Statement. You must not use the raw data in whole, in part and/or in combination with any other database for any discriminatory, breach of privacy or otherwise illegal activity (for example, to re-identify any anonymous donor or to make insurance or employment decisions).
Interested in learning about the unique inheritance of the X chromosome through the use of some cool visual charts? Look no further:
And be sure to check out Debbie Parker Wayne’s great charts at “X-DNA Inheritance Charts“!
Yesterday, Family Tree DNA announced that their 12-marker Y-DNA test, normally $99, will be only $39 for a limited time only (until February 28, 2013). Although I typically will recommend a minimum of 37 markers to clients and readers, this is a great way to get someone’s DNA into FTDNA’s system for future upgrades. For example, I have at least two lines of my family that I’ve been wanting to get tested, but it’s really just for curiosity’s sake rather than any pressing genealogical question. This would be the perfect opportunity for this type of testing.
See what others have written about the sale:
From the Press Release:
HOUSTON, Feb. 20, 2013 /PRNewswire/ — FamilyTreeDNA.com, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene By Gene, Ltd., is dramatically lowering the price of one of its basic Y-DNA tests to $39, making it the lowest-cost DNA test available on the market, in order to take a major step toward universal access by individuals to their personal genetic data.
Wouldn’t it be fun to review detailed proposals about new genealogy projects and be able to provide funding to support those projects that you think are especially worthwhile?
Crowdfunding might be one way to do just that. For those not familiar with “crowdfunding,” it is essentially a way for people to contribute a varying degree of money to a project they are interested in, usually in exchange for a special perk. Wikipedia describes crowdfunding as:
Crowd funding or crowdfunding (alternately crowd financing, equity crowdfunding, or hyper funding) describes the collective effort of individuals who network and pool their money, usually via the Internet, to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations. Crowd funding is used in support of a wide variety of activities, including disaster relief, citizen journalism, support of artists by fans, political campaigns, startup company funding, movie or free software development, inventions development and scientific research.
On Thursday, December 20, 2012, 23andMe and LabCorp (Laboratory Corporation of America) were sued for patent infringement in Delaware by Australian company Genetic Technologies Limited.
Specifically, Genetic Technologies has alleged that 23andMe and LabCorp infringe U.S. Patent No. 7,615,342, entitled “ACTN3 genotype screen for athletic performance.” The complaint is available here.
ACTN3 (Alpha-actinin-3) is an actin-binding protein encoded by the ACTN3 gene. A particular mutation in the ACTN3 gene (rs1815739; R577X) results in a deficiency of the ACTN3 protein. The non-mutant version of the gene is associated with sprint performance, the mutant version is associated with endurance.
23andMe does analyze the rs1815739 SNP in their tests (see “Speed Gene: Fact or Fiction?”). My own rs1815739 SNP genotype, for example, is TT, meaning that I have no working copies of ACTN3 in my fast-twitch muscle fibers. From the complaint:
I received my results from the Geno 2.0 test from National Genographic tonight. The results align fairly well with what I already know about my DNA. For example, I knew I was haplogroup A2 (a Native American haplogroup), but the A2w is new so I have to do some research there.
Even more interesting is my paternal haplogroup designation. The NatGeo tests lists the terminal SNP instead of a haplogroup that will typically encompass multiple SNPs. I am listed as R-Z306, which is R1b1a2a1a1a3a1 on the current ISOGG Y-DNA tree. However, my results indicate that I am L1+, which is associated with Null439 (I previously knew I was null439). Many believe that L1+ is downstream of Z306+, but these types of questions are exactly what the NatGeo 2.0 test will help determine.
This weekend I had the privilege to review an advance copy of “Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA,” a new book by author and genetic genealogist Richard Hill. The book is currently available at Amazon only in paperback (link here: Finding Family: My Search for Roots and the Secrets in My DNA), although eBook versions will be available soon.
Many genetic genealogists are already familiar with Richard Hill and his website DNA-Testing-Adviser.com, where he shares information about using genetic genealogy to learn about your family, especially for adoptees and birth parents. You may also be familiar with Mr. Hill through the front-page 2009 Wall Street Journal article detailing his search for his family, or from the 2009 article in the Grand Rapids Press (“Rockford man uses DNA testing, Internet searches to find his birth father“).
Today, The Genographic Project officially announced the launch of their new Geno 2.0 project, a significant update to the type and quantity of genetic information that will be collected and analyzed by The Genographic Project. The new project will use an entirely new SNP chip (the GenoChip) designed specifically for Geno 2.0 in order to provide the world’s most detailed information about Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups (using SNP information) as well as detailed biogeographical estimates and ancient population (Denisovan and Neanderthal) estimates.
As of today you can pre-order a Geno 2.0 kit, which is expected to ship no later than October 30th (although you can probably expect it earlier than that).
Once again Family Tree DNA will perform all the testing, and The Genographic Project has worked very closely with FTDNA to design, troubleshoot, and use the GenoChip. FTDNA will perform both the Family Finder and the Geno 2.0 test.