Win A FREE Genetic Genealogy Test From The Genetic Genealogist!

DNA HeritageI started The Genetic Genealogist nearly a year ago, in February of 2007. To celebrate the approaching one-year anniversary of the blog, I am announcing a contest to give away a FREE genetic genealogy test from one of my sponsors, DNA Heritage.

Why offer a free genetic genealogy test? I know that there are many genealogists out there who are interested in genetic genealogy, but are reticent to spend the money for a test or think they know too little about genetic genealogy to buy a test. Hopefully, readers of The Genetic Genealogist know a lot more about the technology than they did before they were readers, and now one of you will win a free test! The winner may choose from the following tests offered by the company:

  1. The Y-chromosome STR (23 marker) Test valued at over $135
  2. The Y-chromosome SNP Test valued at $129 (sample report)
  3. The mtDNA Test (HVR-I, HVR-II, and HVR-III for a total of 1145 bases) valued at $219 (sample report).

The contest rules are below, but I wanted to point out that DNA Heritage has an FAQ section, as well as a Tutorial section and a Glossary. I would highly recommend that anyone who is not familiar with DNA testing or genetic genealogy read these sections carefully and completely to understand all the benefits and limitations of genetic genealogy. It is important that anyone who is interested in any form of genetic testing understand all the implications of that testing. Note also that genetic genealogy does NOT instantly reveal the names and dates of ancestors – this can only be accomplished by comparing your results to others (using free public DNA databases) in conjunction with traditional genealogical techniques!

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A Single Colon Cancer Gene Traced to 1630 – The Future of Genetic Genealogy?

Scientists from the University of Utah have traced a mutation in the adenomatous polyposis coli (APC) gene to a Mr. and Mrs. George Fry, who arrived in the New World aboard the William & Mary around 1630.

The mutation, c.426_427delAT, is believed to increase the carrier’s chances of developing colon cancer from 2 in 3 by age 80, a significant increase from the normal of 1 in 24. The study is available here for FREE – thank you open access – and is entitled “American Founder Mutation for Attenuated Familial Adenomatous Polyposis.”

Scientists traced two branches (from two of the Fry’s four children) of the family back to the Fry family, one in Upstate New York and one in Utah. The family in Utah, with more than 5,000 people, has been the focus of scientific study for over 14 years because of their unfortunately high risk of colon cancer. In fact, members of the Utah branch constitute 0.15% of all colon cancer in the state of Utah!

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The Personal Genome Project Has a New Website

The Personal Genome ProjectAs of the end of November, the Personal Genome Project has a newly-designed and user-friendly website. Compare the OLD site and the NEW site – what an improvement! Misha Angrist, aka genomeboy.com and one of the “First 10” aptly called the site “PGP 2.0”.

The new site is extremely well organized and contains information about the project and about participating in the project, if one is so inclined. Since this project will contain so much personal information about each individual that joins, participants will go through an extensive consent process that will include education, physician assistance, and even an online assessment to gauge the participant’s grasp of genetics and the risks of participation, among other things. I know that the team is working feverishly behind the scenes to gather as much information as possible to create an extensive consent protocol.

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Famous DNA Review, Part III – Niall of the Nine Hostages

ireland2.jpgAs many as 3 million men worldwide might be directly descended from a single Irish warlord named Niall of the Nine Hostages who was the High King at Tara from 379 to 405.

In February 2006, researchers at Trinity College in Dublin released a paper that studied that Y chromosome signature of men throughout Ireland. They found that 8% of men sampled had the same Y chromosome, with a cluster in the northwest where fully 21% of men carried the signature chromosome (which fell into Haplogroup R1b1c7). The article appeared in The American Journal of Human Genetics and was titled “A Y-Chromosome Signature of Hegemony in Gaelic Ireland.”

The researchers looked at 17 STR markers on Irish Y chromosomes to determine the relatedness of samples they had obtained. They found that there was a strong association between the most common signature and surnames that were related to the most significant dynasty of early medieval Ireland – the Uí Néill. Some of the surnames included (O’)Gallacher, Boyle, O Doherty, O’Connor, Cannon, Bradley, O’Reilly, Flynn, (Mc)Kee, Devlin, Donnelly, Egan, Gormley, Hynes, McCaul, McGovern, McLoughlin, McManus, McMenamin, Molloy, O’Kane, O’Rourke and Quinn (list from Oxford Ancestors). Of course there were no surnames at the time of the earliest Uí Néill dynasty, but when the Irish took surnames around 1,000 A.D., many chose names that were associated with Uí Néill dynasties.

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deCODEme DNA Results At Roots Television

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, one of the founders of Roots Television and the author of Megan’s Roots World recently released a screencast of her husband’s deCODEme results at “A First Look at deCODEme DNA Results.” Megan is the Chief Family Historian of Ancestry.com and is co-author of Trace Your Roots With DNA, and thus is both extremely interested in genetic genealogy and aware of the limitations of this type of DNA analysis. The 17-minute review includes a brief look into the different aspects of deCODEme’s analysis, including health and ancestral information.

My 2008 Blogging Goals

2008small.jpgAs 2007 comes to a close, I thought I would take a moment to reflect upon the past year of blogging and set some goals for the coming year.

The Genetic Genealogist was created just 10 months ago.My first post on February 12, 2007 was “New estimates for the arrival of the earliest Native Americans.”Interestingly, this research was just named one of the Top 100 Science Stories of 2007 according to Discover Magazine.

Since the debut, I have written a total of 211 posts.There have been over 32,000 visitors and almost 100,000 page views since February.My eBook, “10 DNA Myths Busted, and Other Favorite Posts”, has been downloaded almost 150 times.My top 10 most viewed posts are the following, which represent a wide array of topics:

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Me? A GeneaAngel?

The footnote Maven created an ‘angelic’ collage of genealogy bloggers at “A Choice of GeneaAngels.” I was graciously included in the collage. Can you find me without looking at the list? Sure would be fun to hear us all sing together, wouldn’t it?

On a related note, the footnote Maven also started a Blog Caroling meme where we post the lyrics from our favorite Christmas carol. Since my favorite song was already taken, I thought I’d go with my second favorite. In high school my French teacher would have us sing Christmas carols in French and one of my favorites was the following:

Bring A Torch, Jeannette, Isabella:

English Bring a torch, Jeanette, Isabella! Bring a torch, to Bethlehem come! Christ is born. Tell the folk of the village Mary has laid him in a manger. Ah!* Ah! beautiful is the Mother! Ah! Ah! beautiful is her child! It is wrong when the Baby is sleeping, It is wrong to speak so loud. Silence, now as you gather around, Lest your noise should waken Jesus. Hush! Hush! see how the Baby slumbers; Hush! Hush! see how the Baby sleeps! Softly now unto the stable, Softly for a moment come! Look and see how charming is Jesus, Look at him there, His cheeks are rosy! Hush! Hush! see how the Child is sleeping; Hush! Hush! see how he smiles in dreams! French Un flambeau, Jeanette, Isabelle — Un flambeau! Courons au berceau! C’est Jésus, bons gens du hameau. Le Christ est né; Marie appelle! Ah! Ah! Ah! Que la Mère est belle, Ah! Ah! Ah! Que l’Enfant est beau! C’est un tort, quand l’Enfant sommeille, C’est un tort de crier si fort. Taisez-vous, l’un et l’autre, d’abord! Au moindre bruit, Jésus s’éveille. Chut! chut! chut! Il dort à merveille, Chut! chut! chut! Voyez comme il dort! Doucement, dans l’étable close, Doucement, venez un moment! Approchez! Que Jésus est charmant! Comme il est blanc! Comme il est rose!

According to Wikipedia, the song was first published in 1553 in France and is unique among Christmas carols in that it is in 3/8 time (the fast pace is one reason I enjoy the song so much).

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The Genetic Genealogy Timeline

tiemline.jpgGenealogists spend many of their days (and much of their money!) tracking the history of their ancestors. They hunt through ancient records to elucidate even the smallest clue as to some facet of their ancestors’ lives. Since the majority of genetic genealogists started their journey as traditional genealogists, it is only natural that they enjoy record-keeping and tracking as well.

The DNA Genealogy Timeline is a free public resource maintained by Georgia K. Bopp and hosted by rootsweb.com. The timeline attempts to track the significant developments associated with genetic genealogy. It begins with “Before 1980” and was updated most recently as of October 2007.

What immediately stands out is that genetic genealogy has been around much longer than people realize, especially given the recent media attention. I began my exploration of genetic genealogy in 2003, but by 2000 there were already as many as 4 surname projects begun by hobbyists! As of September 2007, one company (Family Tree DNA) had over 4,200 surname projects that contained more than 66,000 surnames. There are even more surname projects hosted by other companies, including Heritage DNA.

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myDNAchoice – Are Your Surfing Habits the Result of Your Genome?

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VortexDNA today announced the launch of myDNAchoice, a website and Firefox extension aimed at mapping the DNA of “human intention” to help users map their interactions with the internet. Nick Gerritsen, a director of VortexDNA, believes that “this includes better search results, meeting people like you, letting people find you on your favourite sites, and much more–without ever compromising your privacy.”

Although it is a bit confusing, myDNAchoice is a browser tool to help users organize the web based on their interactions with the internet, both previous (reflected in the short survey taken at installation) and future (new surveys taken through time). This browser tool, the company asserts, may result in as much as a 14% increase in search relevancy as compared to Google Search.A user begins by installing the mywebDNA Firefox extension in Firefox:

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More Genetic Genealogy In The News

Genetic genealogy is everywhere right now – Science, CBC, Reuters, and LiveScience, just to name a few. This week two articles came out that gave readers both the ups and downs of genetic genealogy, gathering and presenting information and quotes from both sides.

The first article, “DNA testing for genealogy grows in popularity, but some urge restraint” appeared in the Wisconsin State Journal on the 9th. The second article is entitled “Ancestral DNA testing is not exact science” and although the assertion in the title wasn’t developed in the short article, the author went to authorities with opposite viewpoints and presented both in the article.

Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, who was quoted in the second article, blogged about some of her thoughts on the topic yesterday.

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