Thursday, December 26, 2013

FTDNA DNA sale ends 31 Dec 2013.

Use this link to Order:

Dear Project Administrator,

Thank you for another outstanding year of discovery at Family Tree DNA.
As you may know, our end-of-the-year prices for new kit orders and
upgrades is ending December 31, 2013.

Order and pay today before the sale ends!

Paternal Lineage Orders:

New Kits

Product  Regular Price  Sale Price   
Y-DNA37  $169 US $119 US Order
Y-DNA67  $268 US $189 US Order
Y-DNA111 $359 US $289 US Order


Product  Regular Price  Sale Price
refine 12-37  $109 US $69 US
refine 12-67  $199 US $148 US
refine 25-37  $59 US         $35 US
refine 25-67  $159 US $114 US
refine 37-67  $109 US $79 US
refine 37-111  $220 US $188 US
refine 67-111  $129 US $109 US
Login and Upgrade

Universal Lineage Orders

Family Finder

Get a $100 gift card with every Family Finder order 
in the United States!

Product  Regular Price  Sale Price   
Family Finder  $99 US $99* US Order
Discover New Matches with Family Finder Transfer

Transfer your 23andMe© or AncestryDNA™ today for the best Family Finder 
analysis and the most useful tools. Learn more...

Product              Regular Price  Sale Price   
Autosomal transfer  $69 US          $49 US Order

Maternal Lineage Orders

New Kits

Product  Regular Price  Sale Price   
mtFullSequence  $199 US $169 US Order

Product        Regular Price  Sale Price
mtHVR1toMega  $169 US $149 US
mtHVR2toMega  $159 US $139 US
Add On          $199 US $169 US
Login and Upgrade

Combination Tests

Achieve multiple testing goals with combined testing packages.

For men only:

Product               Regular Price Sale Price   
Family Finder + Y-DNA37  $268 US $218* US Order
Family Finder + Y-DNA67  $367 US $288* US Order
Y-DNA37 + mtFullSequence $368 US $288 US         Order
Y-DNA67 + mtFullSequence $467 US $358 US         Order
Comprehensive          $566 US        $457* US Order
 * Get a $100 gift card with every Family Finder order 
in the United States!

For men and women:

Product                     Regular Price  Sale Price   
Family Finder + mtFullSequence  $298 US $268* US Order
 * Get a $100 gift card with every Family Finder order 
in the United States!

Orders must be placed and paid for by December 31, 2013 to receive this offer.

IMPORTANT: We encourage you to spread the word starting now as the natural
tendency is for people to order at the last minute. This promotion will run
through the end of December and we will not be extending it beyond
December 31, 2013.

Thursday, December 05, 2013

No health results for 23andme kits purchased on 22 Nov 2013 or later

Here is the new landing page at 23andme as of today, 5 Dec 2013:

Welcome to 23andMe.

At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply immediately with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.

We are continuing to provide you with both ancestry-related genetic tests and raw genetic data, without 23andMe’s interpretation.

If you are an existing customer please click the link below and then go to the health page for additional information. If you are a customer that purchased before 11/22/13, you will still have access to your health-related results.

We remain firmly committed to fulfilling our long-term mission to help people everywhere have access to their own genetic data and have the ability to use that information to improve their lives.

Upon entering the site, please confirm you understand the new changes in our services.

I understand that 23andMe only sells ancestry reports and raw genetic data at this time. I understand 23andMe will not provide health-related reports. However, 23andMe may provide health-related results in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.

Clicking on I Understand will take you to the normal login page.

FAQ entries with additional information:

FDA Update: December 5th

posted this on Dec 05 06:16 PM

Here is the latest update regarding the FDA letter and how it will impact our service.
At this time, we have suspended our health-related genetic tests to comply immediately with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s directive to discontinue new consumer access during our regulatory review process.

Is 23andMe still selling its Personal Genome Service?

Yes. 23andMe’s Personal Genome Service including ancestry information and access to raw genetic data without interpretation is still available. Some health-related results may become available in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.

Which reports are impacted?

All health-related results including health risks, drug response, inherited conditions and traits.
23andMe will continue our education efforts and research using our database of genetic and phenotypic data.
Customers will continue to have access to their raw data.

Which customers are impacted?

All customers who purchased prior to November 22, 2013 will have access to their health-related genetic results.
Customers who purchased on November 22, 2013 or later will not have access to health-related results. Some health-related results may become available in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.
Customers who purchased on or after November 22, 2013 will be eligible for a full refund. Eligible customers will receive an email with personalized instructions on how to elect a full refund.

I currently have access to my health data – will that information be removed from my account?

No. Existing customers will continue to have access to their health-related results.

My sample is currently at the lab for processing, will I get health data?

Access to health data is based on your purchase date. If you purchased 23andMe prior to November 22, 2013, you will receive health data.
If you purchased a 23andMe kit on or after November 22, 2013, we will not be able to provide health-related results at this time. Some health-related results may become available in the future, dependent upon FDA marketing authorization.

I purchased a kit as a gift before November 22nd, but have not given it to the recipient. Will they still receive health results when they send it in?

Yes. Access to health-related results is based on the purchase date of the kit. Any kit purchased before November 22, 2013 and returned to our lab will receive health-related results.

I purchased a kit as a gift after November 22nd, but have not given it to the recipient. Will they still receive health results? Can I get a refund?

Access to health-related results is based on the purchase date of the kit. For any kit purchased after November 22, 2013, we will not be able to provide health-related results. If you are eligible, you will receive an email with personalized instructions for claiming the refund.

Will the company continue to provide new health reports to international customers?

No. At this time 23andMe is not going to provide new health-related results to any customers who purchased on or after November 22, 2013.

Which health reports will be available in the future? Do you have any sense of when health-related results may become available again?

We can’t speculate on the timing or outcome of the regulatory review process, but are committed to working with the FDA.

Will refunds be offered?

Yes, customers who purchased on or after November 22, 2013 will receive an email with instructions on how to elect a full refund.
Due to the volume of impacted customers, it may take a few weeks for refunds to be processed. We appreciate your patience.
Eligible customers who do not receive an email with refund instructions are encouraged to double-check their spam email folders. Alternatively, they can contact Customer Care:

If I purchase a kit with just ancestry-related results and raw data, is the price still $99?

Yes. The price remains unchanged at $99.

How accurate is 23andMe’s data?

We adhere to the highest scientific standards and the same laboratory processing standards currently applied to physician-ordered tests.
Our testing has shown a greater than 99.9 percent accuracy rate.
Our lab follows strict quality standards that are part of the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 — known as CLIA. These are the same standards used in specific health and disease-related testing. We decided several years ago to comply with CLIA guidelines to be consistent with other types of laboratory testing and to assure customers about the quality of our data.
White papers that outline our scientific and statistical standards and the criteria for the genetic associations included in our reports are available on our website at:

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Opinion piece from George Church (Personal Genome Project, Harvard) on "Improving genome understanding".


Improving genome understanding

The cost and accuracy of genome sequencing have improved dramatically. George Church asks why so few people are opting to inspect their genome.

09 October 2013 Corrected: 09 October 2013

Readers of Nature, we can assume, are bright and insatiably curious. So why have so few obtained and interpreted their own genome sequence? We should avoid being judgemental of people who practise genomic modesty or who choose not to act on genome information, but we should also ask if we are providing adequate and equal access to education about the benefits and risks of genome information.


Monday, November 25, 2013

FDA give 23andme 15 days to get into compliance or present a plan to do s

Today's big news is the FDA warning letter to 23andme giving them 15 days to either get into compliance or present a plan for compliance or cease selling the 23andme test as a "medical device" under (b)(4) of the regulations. See this link for the letter:
Warning Letter.

Earlier letters can be found by searching the site at this link:

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Big Y DNA test announced by FTDNA

FTDNA's David Mittelman has announced the Big Y DNA test at the FTDNA Surname Administrators Conference. The test will return results on 10,000,000 base-pairs and approximately 25,000 SNPs on the Y chromosome. It is being offered to current customers for $495, a $200 discount price for a limited time. Log into you FTDNA home page to see the offer.

Tuesday, October 08, 2013

New article on the genetic origins of Ashkenazi female lines

ARTICLE Received 11 Jul 2013 | Accepted 4 Sep 2013 | Published 8 Oct 2013

A substantial prehistoric European ancestry amongst Ashkenazi maternal lineages

Marta D. Costa [1,2,*], Joana B. Pereira[1,2,*], Maria Pala [3], Vero´nica Fernandes [1,2], Anna Olivieri [4], Alessandro Achilli [5], Ugo A. Perego [4,6], Sergei Rychkov [7], Oksana Naumova[7], Jirˇi Hatina[8], Scott R. Woodward [6,9], Ken Khong Eng [1,10],
Vincent Macaulay [11], Martin Carr [3], Pedro Soares [2], Luı´sa Pereira [2,12] & Martin B. Richards [1,3]

The origins of Ashkenazi Jews remain highly controversial. Like Judaism, mitochondrial DNA
is passed along the maternal line. Its variation in the Ashkenazim is highly
distinctive, with four major and numerous minor founders. However, due to their rarity in the
general population, these founders have been difficult to trace to a source. Here we show that
all four major founders, ~40% of Ashkenazi mtDNA variation, have ancestry in prehistoric
Europe, rather than the Near East or Caucasus
. Furthermore, most of the remaining minor
founders share a similar deep European ancestry. Thus the great majority of Ashkenazi
maternal lineages were not brought from the Levant, as commonly supposed, nor recruited in
the Caucasus, as sometimes suggested, but assimilated within Europe. These results point to
a significant role for the conversion of women in the formation of Ashkenazi communities,
and provide the foundation for a detailed reconstruction of Ashkenazi genealogical history.

  1. Institute of Integrative and Comparative Biology, Faculty of Biological Sciences, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK.
  2. IPATIMUP (Instituto de Patologia e
    Imunologia Molecular da Universidade do Porto), Porto 4200-465, Portugal.
  3. School of Applied Sciences, University of Huddersfield, Queensgate,
    Huddersfield HD1 3DH, UK.
  4. Dipartimento di Biologia e Biotecnologie, Universita` di Pavia, Pavia 27100, Italy.
  5. Dipartimento di Chimica, Biologia e
    Biotecnologie, Universita` di Perugia, Perugia 06123, Italy.
  6. Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115, USA.
  7. Vavilov Institute of
    General Genetics, Moscow 119991, Russia.
  8. Charles University, Medical Faculty in Pilsen, Institute of Biology, CZ-301 66 Pilsen, Czech Republic.
  9. Ancestry,Provo, Utah 84604, USA.
  10. Centre for Global Archaeological Research, Universiti Sains Malaysia, 11800 USM Penang, Malaysia.
  11. School of Mathematics
    and Statistics, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ, UK.
  12. Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade do Porto, Porto 4200-319, Portugal.
  • These authors contributed equally to this work. Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.B.R. (email:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

One man's takeaways from his 23andme test: My Mutant Powers: What A DNA Test Can Tell You About Yourself

One man's takeaways from his 23andme test:

My Mutant Powers: What a DNA test can tell you about Yourself
By Eric Barker:

I’m probably going to live longer than you are.

I can’t be sure, of course, but I have two genes associated with exceptional longevity, so all other things being equal, well, I’d take those odds in Vegas.

I have two working copies of ACTN3 in my muscle fibers, which is associated with elite athletic performance and means my body is optimized for power sports like sprinting and weight lifting.

I also lack a functional FUT2 gene, so I’m immune to stomach flu. (If this is my mutant power, I am the lamest of the X-Men.)

As part of the GG genotype, I don’t have congenital problems learning from my errors, due to how my dopamine signaling system works. Hopefully that’s a benefit to the blog.

Read more:

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

A chart of my close genetic relations at 23andme

Here is a chart using My Results-Ancestry Tools-Family Inheritance: Advanced from 23andme. This displays the places on my chromosomes where my two 1st cousins and a 3rd cousin match me. Note that there are significant parts of the chromosomes with no match.

First cousins should share 12.5% and a third cousin should share 3.125% of their genomes. I share 17.9%, 15.9%, and 3.05% respectively. I am related on both my paternal and maternal lines with the first 1st cousin and the 3rd cousin. The second 1st cousin is related only through my maternal line.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Survey on genetic genealogy DNA testing at New England Historic Genealogical Society

This weeks NEHGS newsletter, The Weekly Genealogist has a survey on the types of genetic genealogy testing you have done. The link to the survey is on this web page:

Be sure to access before Wednesday, 28 August.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013

p>Dear List Members

This may be of interest to you, your collaborators, and your fellow genealogists. Ireland is to have its first genetic genealogy conference! Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 is a 3-day series of lectures and presentations and is scheduled to run at Back to Our Past (BTOP) at the RDS (Royal Dublin Society) in Ballsbridge, Dublin from Oct 18-20. BTOP is the Irish equivalent of the Who Do You Think You Are event in London.

This is the third year of the Back to Our Past exhibition which last year attracted 20,000 visitors and over 250 exhibitors. This year FamilyTreeDNA have decided to have a stand at the exhibition and will be offering DNA testing at discounted prices. This is the first time that DNA testing will be offered directly to the Irish public at the exhibition.

FamilyTreeDNA have also offered to sponsor a series of lectures in a similar way to how they sponsor lectures at Who Do You Think You Are in London. These lectures are being organised under the auspices of ISOGG and details will be published on the dedicated Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013 website. Several confirmed speakers already have their profiles on the website and more will be added in time. Speakers come from a broad range of disciplines and include professional genealogists, geneticists, scientists, historians, and DNA Project Administrators. The diversity of topics will include many of particular interest to the Irish public, and indeed anyone with Irish ancestors, such as DNA projects related to the Irish Clans and individual Irish surnames.

So if you happen to find yourself in Dublin in October, come along to this exciting event! Entrance to the entire exhibition and conference only costs 5 euro (£4 pounds, $7 dollars) if booked in advance online.

Please feel free to forward this to other Mailing Lists or anyone else who might be interested.

Warm regards


Dr Maurice Gleeson MB

Genetic Genealogy Ireland 2013
Member, International Society of Genetic Genealogy

Thursday, June 27, 2013

FTDNA: Sizzling Summer Sale [includes Family Finder at $99.00]
        Contact Us
Sizzling Summer Sale
Dear Project Administrator,
Summer is once again upon us and it is time for our Sizzling Summer event! Our successful summers over the last two years have led us to offer you great values again this year. So, let's work together to grow your projects and to grow our database.

We have been working with Illumina to offer our Family Finder autosomal test for only $99 during our summer event. In fact, if we receive enough orders at $99, Illumina may be able to help us keep it at this extremely low of rate of $99!

As you take advantage of our summer event, remember that the permanency of the $99 Family Finder test is actually in your hands!
Beginning on Thursday, June 27, 2013 and running until Friday, July 26, 2013, we will offer the following:
Family Finderwas $289Now $99
mtDNA Full Sequencewas $289Now $189
Y-DNA37was $169Now $129
Y-DNA67was $268Now $208
Y-DNA111was $359Now $308
Family Finder + Y-DNA37was $368Now $228
Family Finder + Y-DNA67was $467Now $307
Family Finder + mtDNAFullSequencewas $398Now $288
Comprehensive Genome (Y-DNA67, FMS & FF)was $666Now $496

More Products 
Contact Us 
+1 713-868-1438 (main)
+1 832-201-7147 (fax)

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A guest post Book Review : Creation, the Origin of Life - Creation, the Future of Life

A Guest Post from Walter J Freeman:

Every now and again, I stumble across a book, an article, or some other source of information that brings together various disparate bits of knowledge I have collected over the years. The book I am about to tell you about was, for me, just such a experience.

I read and own the book as the UK edition

which is a flip book, with one side opening on Creation, the Origin of Life, and the flip side opening on Creation, the Future of Life. The physical layout of the book (my early print version, at least) is both interesting and unusual for a book today in that it is actually divided into two short monographs which are both featured as flip side front covers. That is the reader can select the monograph on the origins of life, or flip the book and select the monograph on the future of life.

The books have a reference and bibliographic section following the text for each. Rutherford has made good use of footnotes throughout the text to explain, expand, or to provide short backstories on salient points. This helps to keep unnecessary detail from the main prose lines, and at the same time helps to explain or clarify many crucial points.

The book is due out in mid-June as a U.S. edition and slightly retitled

Creation: How Science is Reinventing Life Itself. (I am not fond of this U.S. rewrite of the title as I think much is lost in the translation from the two previous subtitles.)

This particular book was recommended to me by a friend and former coworker, Dr. Sanh Le. I thank him for calling it to my attention, and I highly, highly recommend it to anyone who has an interest in this direction or who has ever wondered about some of the considerations of the earliest of evolutionary biology.

For about the past ten years, I have been interested in genetic testing for genealogy. Naturally in my travels and general reading about DNA, I have wondered from time to time, just how did all of this marvelous, intricate, extraordinarily complex, cellular machinery found in a cell come to be? I somehow missed ever having taken a formal course in biology. But I did have one course in biochemistry, once upon a time, back when the Earth and the dirt on it was young. I have long sought to make up that gap in my knowledge with general, but unstructured reading in areas of interest to me such as physiology, molecular biology, and related areas.

Dr. Adam Rutherford, a geneticist, a BBC Four TV personality (The Cell), an editor for the science journal Nature, and a writer for The Guardian newspaper,

does a terrific job in pulling together fundamental questions on the origins of life. Moreover he does so in a non-technical way as he presents various views of possible answers to those questions.

If one is somewhat familiar with DNA, RNA, cell biology and other aspects of molecular biology as well as of chemistry and what is known of the Earth's origins, then there is likely to be relatively little new information here. What is new is the perspective and overview that Rutherford manages to pull together on the understandings surrounding this rather large body of knowledge.

The book avoids any illustrations and offers only word images and descriptions, thus does not not get bogged down in details or chemical structures, which unfortunately is a turn-off for some readers. Personally, I feel that some carefully chosen illustrations would have helped, but do not consider the lack of them a serious flaw. This book, then, is not a text book nor a primer on any of the topics covered, but rather a view from a height suitable for the general lay reader. In this, the book is unique in my experience.

Rutherford in the Origin of Life takes you on a journey to examine in light of all of the advances and understandings to date of DNA and the genome, what the first life on this planet may have looked like. Of course, we cannot know for sure what that first, oh so primitive form or forms, may have been, as such a fragile structure does not leave a fossil record. Or does it?

While it is highly unlikely that a fossil could ever be discovered, there are quite a few things that are known about ALL life as we know it. Rutherford pulls these observations together for the lay reader to make a convincing case of some of the salient features of the earliest life forms.

First, ALL known forms of life, without exception, involve cells.
  • All 20 amino acids, the building blocks of the functional proteins that make up the machinery of cells, are chiral in the same left handed sense.
  • All life forms utilize these same small list of amino acids, though myriad of other molecular structures are possible.
  • All DNA and RNA involve the same deoxyribose structures to build the sides of the DNA/RNA ladder.
  • ALL nucleic acid "rungs" which encode information are created from the same four nucleic acids, abbreviated here as A, T, C, and G and for RNA as A, T, C, and U.
  • All DNA double helices are right handed helices in terms of the direction of the spiral.
  • And on and on and on...WITHOUT EXCEPTION.
Taken together these facts point to a single point of origin since all life forms subsequently whether bacteria, fungi, plants, or animals including reptiles, birds, fish, lions, tigers, or humans all have the same basic molecular biology at the most common levels. To be sure there is great diversity amongst life forms, but when one drills down to the molecular biology and biochemistry, we all have or share a common set of chemical building blocks alike in every respect. Scientists and evolutionary biologists use these known facts and more, then, to build a picture of what the earliest life forms must have looked like some four billion years ago +-/ on this planet when it was still a hostile, energetic, and most violent place.

 The second half of this book is a short monograph on the future of life. We stand at the beginnings of what may well become known as the age of the genome and/or the age of biotechnology with advances occurring at what approaches an exponential rate. That there could be other renditions and substitutions at the molecular level to create new forms of DNA and other basic molecules is the purvey of what is called, for the moment, synthetic biology.

 I am not talking about cloning here, but rather designed molecules that have no counterpart in nature, but which can be tailored to have certain functions at the cellular level. Owing to the use of nonnatural, designed molecules in the cell, then further reproduction is shut down because no natural cell has the machinery to duplicate them and thus perpetuate a new form of life.

 Again Rutherford pulls together the diverse threads of what is happening in this nascent field to generate a picture of both optimism and comfort that such efforts, which are carefully guarded by the very people doing this work who recognize their responsibilities, are being made to be fail safe so as to only bring benefit and not cause catastrophe to future generations.

Rutherford points out several times that the cell is a fantastically complex piece of biologic machinery and science is many, many decades away, if ever, from being able to create artificial life based on cellular processes.

 If you are up for a bit of video drama, check out the Hidden Life of the Cell. This BBC produced animation gives some idea of the complexity of a cell -- any cell -- not just human cells as portrayed here. It is sort of a science fiction-like story of an invader, an adenovirus, [pictured as an invading cohort of tiny black "death stars"] out to take over a cell in order to reproduce itself.

Well done, this video is a bit longish at 57 minutes, but it does help to acquaint by means of its powerful story and drama, what is undoubtedly going on inside you at some level at multiple sites within your body at this very moment. Oh yes, viruses are not glistening, black entities, the mitochondria do not glow, and neither does the cell nucleus. And there is no dramatic music accompanying the epic struggles (or if there is music, then it is very, very quiet.)

If this glimpse sort of leaves you in awe, then terrific, because this is NOT science fiction, but rather it is science fact. It is quite real and very, very, very, very well substantiated by decades of data and consistent findings.

But this Hidden Life of the Cell begs the question, so how did all of this marvelous, fantastic sack of molecular machinery and DNA coded instructions begin? Well, that is the point of Rutherford's excellent book, in which he examines this question in easy to understand detail and then looks to the future of where we are now and where our understanding is likely to lead.

This was a Guest Post from Walter J Freemen. Let us know if you liked it.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

FTDNA Y-DNA UPGRADE Sale for Father's Day

Dear Project Administrator,

Since last summer's upgrade sale was such huge success, we thought we'd repeat history! Project Administrators like you played a very important role in last year's success by broadcasting the sale to project members. As your project members upgrade, the resolution of results and comparisons we provide greatly improves. So, please spread the word and we'll make this year's upgrade sale even bigger!

From June 12, 2013 through June 19, 2013, we will reduce the following prices.

Y-DNA 12 to 25 was $49 Now $35
Y-DNA 12 to 37 was $99 Now $69
Y-DNA 12 to 67 was $189 Now $148
Y-DNA 25 to 37 was $49 Now $35
Y-DNA 25 to 67 was $148 Now $114
Y-DNA 25 to 111 was $249 Now $224
Y-DNA 37 to 67 was $99 Now $79
Y-DNA 37 to 111 was $220 Now $188
Y-DNA 67 to 111 was $129 Now $109

To order an upgrade at these special prices your members can log into their personal pages with their kit number and password. Click on the "Order Upgrade" button located on the right side of the menu bar. Then click on the "Special Offers" button.


Contact Us
+1 713-868-1438
+1 832-201-7147 (sales)


Friday, May 24, 2013

Finding your Irish surnames origins

At the last FTDNA Administrators Conference, Dr Tyrone Bowes, PhD, gave a talk showing how one could find the origins of an Irish surname. It was a fascinating talk that he updated for Who DO You Think You Are. Links to both talks appear on this page. He has recently published a paper on it in the Surname DNA Journal:

Using Y Chromosome DNA Testing to Pinpoint a Genetic Homeland in Ireland


Analytical techniques were developed combining the Surnames of Y-STR DNA matches, the 1911 Census of Ireland, and geographical place names to pinpoint the ‘Genetic Homeland’ of five (5) of eight (8) individuals used as test cases. Four (4) of the individuals were natives of Ireland and one (1) was a native of Scotland. The Genetic Homeland concept is based on the area where founding ancestors first adopted surnames and lived for hundreds or thousands of years. Although the surnames adopted may have been diverse and many or all descendants with a particular surname may have moved away from those areas, the geographical place names and other descendants from the same patriarch often remain in those geographies today.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Do you have a Family Tree at 23andme?

I am finding a number of Family Tree entries for married females that list them by the husband's last name. Looking at the data entry page in Family Tree I see that there is a separate line for Last Name and another line for Birth Name. The usual best practice is to have both Last Name and Birth Name be the BIRTH NAME for a married female. This makes it much easier for someone to see the connecting surname when looking at the limited tree shown by 23andme.

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Although confined to western European populations, this article seems to provide empirical evidence to validate several earlier papers on the theoretical relatedness of humans throughout the world.

Ralph P, Coop G (2013)

The Geography of Recent Genetic Ancestry across Europe.

PLoS Biol 11(5): e1001555. doi:10.1371/journal.pbio.1001555


The recent genealogical history of human populations is a complex mosaic
formed by individual migration, large-scale population movements, and other
demographic events. Population genomics datasets can provide a window into
this recent history, as rare traces of recent shared genetic ancestry are
detectable due to long segments of shared genomic material. We make use of
genomic data for 2,257 Europeans (in the Population Reference Sample
[POPRES] dataset) to conduct one of the first surveys of recent
genealogical ancestry over the past 3,000 years at a continental scale.

We detected 1.9 million shared long genomic segments, and used the lengths of
these to infer the distribution of shared ancestors across time and
geography. We find that a pair of modern Europeans living in neighboring
populations share around 2–12 genetic common ancestors from the last 1,500
years, and upwards of 100 genetic ancestors from the previous 1,000 years.
These numbers drop off exponentially with geographic distance, but since
these genetic ancestors are a tiny fraction of common genealogical
ancestors, individuals from opposite ends of Europe are still expected to
share millions of common genealogical ancestors over the last 1,000 years.

There is also substantial regional variation in the number of shared
genetic ancestors. For example, there are especially high numbers of common
ancestors shared between many eastern populations that date roughly to the
migration period (which includes the Slavic and Hunnic expansions into that
region). Some of the lowest levels of common ancestry are seen in the
Italian and Iberian peninsulas, which may indicate different effects of
historical population expansions in these areas and/or more stably
structured populations. Population genomic datasets have considerable power
to uncover recent demographic history, and will allow a much fuller picture
of the close genealogical kinship of individuals across the world.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Family History and DNA: Genetic Genealogy in 2013 Conference, Burbank, California

Thursday, June 6, 2013, at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank, 2500 Hollywood Way, Burbank.

The first ever public conference of its type, jointly sponsored by the Southern California Genealogical Society (SCGS) and ISOGG, is more than 75 % sold out. Attendance is limited to 350 people.

April 30 is the last day for reduced prices and the hotel is filling up.
Hotel reservations can be made at Use code jamjama.

See Keynote speaker Spencer Wells of the National Geographic Project and Luncheon speaker Henry Louis Gates, Jr. plus many other well known names in the field. Program details are at

Registration is at and the Early Bird Registration has been extended until May 7th.

The event is followed by the 3 day Genealogical Jamboree and many of the registrants plan to stay for both conferences.

Hope to see you there.

Alice Fairhurst, SCGS President and ISOGG Y-DNA Tree

Monday, April 22, 2013

Family Tree DNA: DNA Day Sale


This year we began our commemoration of National DNA Day on April 19th. This coincides with the celebration by the National Human Genome Research Institute and the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History's partnership to celebrate the 1953 discovery of the double helix and the 2003 completion of the Human Genome Project, which was April 19th.

However, DNA Day is celebrated worldwide on April 25th. Therefore, we've extended our sale! The usual conditions apply - orders must be made and paid for by 11:59 p.m. CDT on Thursday, April 25th.

Remember, we’ll offer a promotion on Y-DNA upgrades around Father’s Day, so be on the lookout for those details.
Click here to see and order all of our substantially discounted items!

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Have a 23andme genetic test? Read this: Learning more from your 23andMe results with Imputation

From Genomes Unzipped:

Suppose that you’ve had your DNA genotyped by 23andMe or some other DTC genetic testing company. Then an article shows up in your morning newspaper or journal (like this one) and suddenly there’s an additional variant you want to know about. You check your raw genotypes file to see if the variant is present on the chip, but it isn’t! So what next? [Note: the most recent 23andMe chip does include this variant, although older versions of their chip do not.]

Genotype imputation is a process used for predicting, or “imputing”, genotypes that are not assayed by a genotyping chip. The process compares the genotyped data from a chip (e.g. your 23andMe results) with a reference panel of genomes (supplied by big genome projects like the 1000 Genomes or HapMap projects) in order to make predictions about variants that aren’t on the chip. If you want a technical review of imputation (and the program IMPUTE in particular), we recommend Marchini & Howie’s 2010 Nature Reviews Genetics article. However, the following figure provides an intuitive understanding of the process.

Continue reading ‘Learning more from your 23andMe results with Imputation’.

Friday, April 05, 2013

Human Reference Genome Build 37 and FTDNA

It appears that the conversion to build 37 of the Human Reference Genome has been completed by Family Tree DNA. I say this based on the following:

In Build 36 I had 483 matches in Family Finder;
After the first stage of the conversion I had 423 matches, then 438 and finally 443. This week I have 538 Family Finder matches.
I have identified the common ancestor/s with 14 matches.

At 23andme I have 1825 matches and have identified the common ancestor with 16.

At AncestryDNA I have 4100+ matches and have identified the common ancestor in the pedigrees with over 100 matches. I am looking forward to getting segment location and sizes from AncestryDNA so I can make a better comparison with FTDNA's Family Finder and 23andme's Relative Finder.

All three autosomal DNA raw results are now reported in Build 37.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

DNA testing for genetic genealogy: some new prices

Family Tree DNA, FTDNA, has changed the price of the 12 marker Y chromosome test to $49.00 as of 1 April 2013. This is the first test a male might take in determining his male line genetic ancestry. 12 marker test should be upgraded to 37, 67, or 111 markers for greater accuracy in determining the correct male line. This test gives a haplotype and a haplogroup for your male ancestry.

FTDNA has announced they will have a lower priced mitochondrial, mtDNA, test later this year.

The cost of their autosomal DNA test, Family Finder, has not been reduced. The test can be taken by both males and females and can find genetic connections back around 6 generations. At the 6th cousin level you will share less than 1% of your DNA with a 6th cousin.

23andMe has reduced the cost of their autosomal DNA test, Relative Finder, to $99.00. People outside of the United States should look at the shipping cost before placing the order. The reduction from $299.00 has made this a more affordable test. The results of the Relative Finder test are similar to Family Finder.

AncestryDNA, a part of, has reduced the cost of their autosomal DNA test to $99.00. It is not available to persons outside of the USA. Using the pedigrees uploaded to and a phasing formula developed by them, they are able to match DNA segments to pedigrees in their database. However, unlike FTDNA and 23andme, they do not provide a chromosome browser so you can see where your matches are on each chromosome. This means you could find a pedigree match but that person may not be the one you share DNA with.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Article Genetic Genealogy Comes of Age: Perspectives on the Use of Deep-Rooted Pedigrees in Human Population Genetics.

The full article is available:


Genetic Genealogy Comes of Age: Perspectives on the Use of Deep-Rooted Pedigrees in Human Population Genetics.

M H D Larmuseau, A Van Geystelen, M van Oven, R Decorte

UZ Leuven, Laboratory of Forensic Genetics and Molecular Archaeology, Leuven, Belgium; Department of Imaging and Pathology, KU Leuven, Forensic Medicine, Leuven, Belgium; KU Leuven, Department of Biology, Laboratory of Biodiversity and Evolutionary Genomics, Leuven, Belgium.
American Journal of Physical Anthropology (impact factor: 2.82). 02/2013; DOI:10.1002/ajpa.22233
Source: PubMed


In this article, we promote the implementation of extensive genealogical data in population genetic studies. Genealogical records can provide valuable information on the origin of DNA donors in a population genetic study, going beyond the commonly collected data such as residence, birthplace, language, and self-reported ethnicity. Recent studies demonstrated that extended genealogical data added to surname analysis can be crucial to detect signals of (past) population stratification and to interpret the population structure in a more objective manner. Moreover, when in-depth pedigree data are combined with haploid markers, it is even possible to disentangle signals of temporal differentiation within a population genetic structure during the last centuries. Obtaining genealogical data for all DNA donors in a population genetic study is a labor-intensive task but the vastly growing (genetic) genealogical databases, due to the broad interest of the public, are making this job more time-efficient if there is a guarantee for sufficient data quality. At the end, we discuss the advantages and pitfalls of using genealogy within sampling campaigns and we provide guidelines for future population genetic studies.

Am J Phys Anthropol, 2013. © 2013 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Future of Genomic Medicine VI Conference

The sixth Future of Genomic Medicine Conference takes place this week in La Jolla, California. Details are here:

George Church of the Personal Genome Project is one of the speakers.

Sunday, March 03, 2013

FTDNA conversion to of Family Finder nearly completed

FTDNA has been converting Family Finder results to Build 37 of the reference human genome. Some problems were found with some previously run results and these are being rerun. In my case my Family Finder matches went down from 486 to 429. According to a notice from Bennet Greenspan and Max Blankfoeld they expect to complete the conversion on or about 5 March.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Matches at 23andme, FTDNA, and AncestryDNA

As of tonight I have 1700 matches at 23andme; 486 matches at FTDNA; and 3630 matches at AncestryDNA. I have identified ancestors with about 20 people at 23andme; 16 people at FTDNA and approximately 100 at AncestryDNA. While I keep a spreadsheet of the chromosome and the match locations at 23andme and FTDNA, I can't do that with AncestryDNA until they release match locations later this year. This makes it difficult to determine who I have actually inherited the match from at AncestryDNA. As it is they do not show all of your shared ancestors when they provide the pedigree link. I have been entering all of the common ancestors for every match into my genealogy program. Ancestry really needs to make the match chromosomes, start and stop locations and centiMorgan (cM)lengths available to their customers.

Saturday, February 09, 2013

MyHeritage offers discounts on FTDNA DNA tests

The following release was received from MyHeritage:

* MyHeritage has launched a special campaign offering deep discounts on DNA tests to mark the first anniversary of the availability of DNA tests on MyHeritage. These tests are offered in partnership with Family Tree DNA. This is part of a giant DNA sale organized by MyHeritage simultaneously across all its websites -, and

* The highlight is the autosomal DNA test, Family Finder, which is priced on MyHeritage now at $169 instead of $289 for a limited period. The Family Finder test is powerful in that it can find relatives for the person being tested, who are descendants from any shared ancestors, 5 generations back, and not just on the direct paternal or direct maternal lines. This low price has never been available before on MyHeritage or Family Tree DNA and is available for a limited period only.

* MyHeritage is discounting also combo DNA tests that include the Family Finder. The most powerful combination available on the market, is called Comprehensive Genome and that is also discounted by a few hundred dollars as part of this special offer.

* MyHeritage Premium and PremiumPlus subscribers enjoy discounts of 10% and 15% respectively on all the DNA tests (other than Family Finder) for a limited period.

* New, unique offer: MyHeritage users can now purchase a PremiumPlus subscription which provides them unlimited storage and all extra features for their family tree, and get a Y-DNA12 test worth $99 for free, or a free mtDNA test (for females). Users can also purchase a MyHeritage Data subscription and receive the DNA test for free.

* The discounted DNA tests are also available now for the first time ever on websites and, owned by MyHeritage. In those websites, subscribers enjoy a 10% discount on the DNA tests. Geni and WorldVitalRecords extend the partnership of MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA and bring it to the many millions of users on Geni and WorldVitalRecords.

* More details and links to place an order for a discounted DNA test can be found on the MyHeritage blog:

Thursday, February 07, 2013

James Lick on analyzing the mtDNA of Richard III with very little data [UPDATED]

As James says:

I thought it would be fun to try analyzing the mtDNA sequence of the presumed Richard III skeleton using my mthap program to see what it comes up with.

Unfortunately, only a 53bp fragment of the ~16569bp mtDNA sequence has been released so far, via this image on the University of Leicester web site [see here for the rest]

(Please note that this is not meant to cast doubt on the identification. It is merely to show how much objective data we can determine based on the currently released information.)


More detail on Richard III's probable mtDNA:

Monday, February 04, 2013

Richard the Third, last Plantagenet King of England, has been found

After an investigation lasting 5 months, a team of researchers at the University of Leicester has confirmed the identity of the skeleton found in September 2012 as that of King Richard the Third. So far a match has been found to his maternal DNA, in mtDNA haplogroup J, and the paternal, Y DNA, is being tested.

Debbie Kennett has a very good post on her blog here: