In a move that puts it in more direct competition with personal genomics companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme, the genetic genealogy testing company Family Tree DNA announced today that it will offer a large-scale autosomal test for genealogical purposes. The test, which will be available to the public in mid-March, will allow test-takers the opportunity to connect with matching family members across all genetic ancestral lines. The test will launch at a price of $249.
The Family Tree DNA Family Finder site is now online.
Although other companies such as 23andMe and deCODEme offer a similar family tree maker, members of the genetic genealogy community have lamented the fact that their databases are populated in significant part by people who have no interest in genealogy. Presumably, people who purchase the FTDNA test and become part of that database will be strongly motivated by genealogical interests, and thus will be interested in communicating with genetic relatives.
Family Tree DNA has also indicated that test-takers will be able to download their raw data. No word yet on what type of SNP chip is being used, or how many SNPs are tested.
The Press Release:
Houston, TX â€“ February 16, 2010 – Family Tree DNA, the pioneer and largest DNA testing company for genealogy purposes, is launching today their newest test â€“ named Family Finder â€“ which will allow connecting with family members across all ancestral lines. â€œThis is the most exciting genetic genealogy breakthrough since the company launched its Y-DNA test, which uncovers relatives in the direct paternal lineâ€, says Bennett Greenspan, founder and CEO of Family Tree DNA. Initially available to current Family Tree DNA members, Family Finder will be offered to the general public in mid-March.
While the Y-DNA matches men with a specific paternal line and the mtDNA finds potential relatives only along the maternal line, Family Finder can look for close relationships along all ancestral lines. Anyone, regardless of their gender, may now confidently match to male and female cousins from any of their family lines in the past five generations. The science â€“ linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes are matched between two people.
Based on this concept, Family Tree DNA bioinformatics team has worked extensively to develop the calculations that would yield the closeness of the relationship. The possibilities to find matches abound: grandparents, aunts and uncles; half siblings; first, second, third and fourth cousins; and, more tentatively, fifth cousins. Unlike other companies that offer autosomal testing for relationship purposes, the Family Tree DNA “Family Finder” focuses on the genealogy of the test takers: matching contact names and email addresses are readily available for easy communication, and special tools have been developed to assist in the genealogy and matching process.
About Family Tree DNA
Founded in April 2000, Family Tree DNA was the first company to develop the commercial application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, something that had previously been available only for academic and scientific research. Almost a decade later, the Houston-based company has a database with over 280,000 individual records â€“ the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy, and a number that makes Family Tree DNA the prime source for anyone researching recent and distant family ties. In 2006 Family Tree DNA established a state of the art Genomics Research Center at its headquarters in Houston, Texas, where it currently performs R&D and processes over 200 advanced types of DNA tests for its customers.