18 June 2014

Family Tree DNA Releases Updates

Several updates were posted today at Family Tree DNA.  Of special interest is the Big Y settings and the name changes in the bio-geographical groups.

Note the Big Y settings and Search...something new!

1. Added a privacy setting that will allow a user to opt out of Big Y matching.  By default, matching is enabled.  If someone opts out of matching they will not be able to see Big Y matches and other users will not see them.  The opt in/out setting is located in the myFTDNA Account Settings page, under the "Match and E-mail settings" tab.  Here is the setting:

2. Updated the retail price for Y-DNA25 from $229 to $109.  This will put it in line with our other Y-DNA product prices. Upgrade prices were also edited accordingly. 

3. Created a SNP search feature on the Haplotree page to aid users in locating a SNP of interest.  It is located at the top right side of the Haplotree page.  The page will scroll down to the SNP being searched for and highlighted it with a yellow bar.  Even SNPs buried in the "More..." pop up will be searched!  Here is a pic of the search bar:

4. Name changes for Populations
myOrigins Introduces New Population Cluster Names!

Based on your feedback, we simplified the population cluster names on myOrigins!  It will now be easier than ever to share (and pronounce) your ancestral origins.
  • European Coastal Plain -> Western and Central Europe
  • East African Pastoralists -> East Central Africa
  • Trans Ural Peneplain -> Eastern Europe
  • Bering Expansion -> Native American
  • North African Coastlands -> North Africa
  • Asian Northeast -> Northeast Asia
  • Eurasian Heartland -> Central Asia
  • North Mediterranean Basin -> Southern Europe
  • Niger-Congo Genesis -> West Africa
  • European Coastal Islands -> British Isles
  • North Circumpolar -> Finland and Northern Siberia
  • European Northlands -> Scandinavia
  • Anatolian and Caucasus -> Asia Minor
  • Jewish Diaspora -> Ashkenazi Diaspora
  • Kalahari Basin -> South-Central Africa
  • East Asian Coastal Islands -> Southeast Asia
  • Indian Tectonic Plate -> South Asia
  • Eastern Afro-asiatic -> Eastern Middle East
In addition, the following composite myOrigins population clusters will have their names changed:
  • Coastal Islands & Coastal Plain -> British Isles, Western & Central Europe
  • Trans-Ural Peneplain & Coastal Plain -> Eastern, Western & Central Europe
  • Northlands & Coastal Plain -> Scandinavia, Western & Central Europe
  • North Mediterranean & Coastal Plain -> Southern, Western & Central Europe
Please note: We did not make any changes to the underlying myOrigins data.  In other words, if you were 20% Anatolian Crossroads before, you will now be 20% Asia Minor.

Descriptions of the clusters can be found here. For background on myOrigins, read Razib Khan’s pieces, “Unraveling Mysteries” and “Surprising Threads on the Tapestry.”


12 June 2014

Family Tree DNA reaches a historic milestone: over 1,000,000 DNA tests processed

Family Tree DNA just sent this press release:

Family Tree DNA, the genetic genealogy arm of Gene by Gene, and the world leader in the field, announced today that it has processed over 1,000,000 DNA test kits results for genealogy and anthropology purposes.

This historic amount includes Family Tree DNA’s tests as well the processing of public participation samples for National Geographic’s Genographic Project (www.genographic.com). Family Tree DNA is the Genographic Project’s genetic testing partner.

The million-test milestone was reached this week during the company’s Father’s Day sale, which includes the Family Finder test currently discounted at the affordable price of $79.

The Family Finder test finds relatives within 5 generations, and gives a detailed geographic breakdown of  where one’s ancestors came from, by comparing a person’s DNA to the DNA of other users in Family Tree DNA’s massive database.

Family Tree DNA offers the widest range of DNA testing services in the field of genetic genealogy.The company prides itself on its commitment to the practice of solid, ethical science. Family Tree DNA has the largest database in the world for matching purposes, which means increased chances of finding long lost relatives. In that regard, Family Tree DNA is an important resource for the three million people in the United States who either were adopted or descend from adoptees.

About Gene By Gene, Ltd.
Founded in 2000, Gene By Gene, Ltd. (http://www.genebygene.com) is a CAP-accredited and CLIA-registered genetic testing company that serves consumers, researchers, and physicians. Gene by Gene offers a wide range of regulated clinical diagnostic tests, as well as research use only (RUO) tests. The Family Tree DNA division (http://www.familytreeDNA.com) of Gene by Gene is a pioneer and leader in DNA testing for genealogy and ancestry. The company operates the largest genetic genealogy database in the world and has provided more than 5 million discrete genetic tests. Gene by Gene is privately held and headquartered in Houston, Texas.

For media information on FamilyTreeDna.com, please contact Lacy Gambee (520) 404-4357

For media information on The Genographic Project, please contact Colby Bishop (cbishop@ngs.org/202-828-8075)



09 June 2014

Family Tree DNA's Father's Day Sale!!!

Family Tree DNA has announced its Father’s Day Sale on their website. These are good prices, if you are interested in either test.  You can learn more about the Big Y at my blog post:  http://genealem-geneticgenealogy.blogspot.com/2014/03/big-y-is-rolling-on.html

The Father's Day Sale is here! Buy Family Finder now for only $79 and Big Y for only $595!

For a limited period from 9th June to 17th June the Family Finder test will be reduced from $99 to just $79.  The Big Y is reduced by $100 and if you previously ordered a Big Y and will order another, you receive an addtional $100 off!

Here’s a copy of what the Administrators received:

Father's Day is almost here and that means a new Family Tree DNA sale!  Here's what the sale will entail:

From 6/9/2014 to 6/17/2014, we will be offering:
Family Finder - $79   ($99)
Big Y - $595   ($695)

Additionally, customers that have already purchased a Big Y test will receive a coupon for $100 off another Big Y! This coupon is valid through 6/17/2015 and can be used on any Big Y order.  The best part is that if you combine it with the Father's Day sale, customers can get Big Y for only $495! 
News & updates
·      Big Y matching is coming!  Over the course of the next two weeks we will begin a phased release of Big Y matching so you can directly compare your comprehensive Y-DNA results to those of other Big Y test takers.  The key to identifying all new SNPs and subclades is finally here!
·      Family Finder was recently improved with the release of myOrigins, an all new ethnicity tool allowing you to compare your ethnic breakdown to that of your matches while providing more detailed information on your ethnic heritage than ever before!



06 June 2014

Y-DNA Transfers to Family Tree DNA

I just noticed today that Family Tree DNA is offering a great sale on transferring your Y-DNA test results from any company that used the Sorenson 33 or 46 marker test.  That would include results from Ancestry.com, GeneTree and Sorenson's SMGF.

The transfers are $19 for the 33 or 46, but if you wish to add the Y-DNA 25 marker or Y-DNA 37 marker along with the transfer that is $58.  A STEAL! 

Why add this upgrade?
When your DNA results are transferred from another company, your stored test sample is not transferred.  By adding the Y-25 or Y-37, you receive a kit and will have enough sample to store for future upgrades and tests at FTDNA.

Choosing the 25 or 37.
The 25 marker test provides matches for you on the all-paternal line that could be within this last 600 years where the Y-37 marker would narrow that time to within 400 years, give or take.  These are estimated times as every family can be different, but the more markers you test, the closer in time the common ancestor can be.

If your haplogroup is not a common one, the Y-25 marker could be enough, but if your haplogroup is common, I would suggest you go with the Y-37.  Frankly, if the price is the same why would you do a Y-25?

At this point in time, Family Tree DNA is the only major testing company who offers Y-DNA and mtDNA test, along with the ability to upgrade those tests if you start at a lower level of markers.

For more detail see Family Tree DNA.


05 June 2014

Ancestry.com Discontinue Some Products

Ancestry.com announced that it will discontinue some of its services by September 5, 2014 to focus on its "core products and mission".

The affected products are:

MyFamily.com - the family website service
My Canvas - the photo book publishing service
Genealogy.com - the site will remain online with some content
Mundia.com - the worldwide family tree site (you must subscribe to Ancestry.com to contact tree owners
Y-DNA and mtDNA testing - Raw data can be downloaded.  This leaves only Family Tree DNA available for these types of tests among the three most popular DNA testing companies.

The blogg genealogyinsider has detailed the situation and the site has a link to Ancestry.com's blog post on the subject.

Visit the above link for more information and spread the word as it may affect others you know. There is information on what to do and refunds where applicable.


George Wins the DNA Lottery

From time to time, I post DNA success stories on my blog.  While speaking in John Day, Oregon a few weeks ago, I met George Larson who agreed to share his story with all of us.  Thank you George!

Winning the DNA lottery

Back in February, I got an email from a cousin who just got her results back from 23andMe. She was quite excited, and strongly recommended that I take the test.

I had been intending to take some DNA test for quite a while, but was still undecided about which company, and which test to take first. I had read up on the subject only lightly; I wanted to make a good decision, but was feeling no great sense of urgency. There was only one pressing question in my mind that I thought DNA testing might resolve.

One of my biggest closet skeletons involves my great-grandfather’s birth in 1841, in Oslo prison. His mother was doing time for stealing potatoes and other food during a famine in Norway. The facts are these: Ole Larson was born 7-1/2 month into his mother’s 8-month sentence. At his baptism in the prison chapel, his father was named as Lars Paulsen (his mother’s husband and father of Ole’s six siblings). Maybe I should have left it at that; after all, I had primary-source evidence in the minister’s own hand.

But a nagging doubt remained. The mother, Anne Larsdatter, was initially charged more than ten months before she entered Kristiania prison on April 24, 1841. In the interim, her case went through two unsuccessful appeals, in two courts located in Oslo (Kristiania). Anne’s home was in Gudbrandsdalen, over 150 miles from the capital city. If Ole’s baptism record was correct, she must have been at home with her husband six weeks or less before she entered prison. Some further evidence of this would be reassuring.

Keep in mind that there were no railroads or any mechanized transport at that time. From Anne’s home to Kristiana would in itself have been a journey of two weeks or more, traveling (as she must have) on foot, or in an oxcart or wagon, under military guard in at all times. As for the conditions endured by prisoners, I’m sure they were not unlike those described in fiction by Charles Dickens or Victor Hugo: terrifying to anyone, let alone a 40-year-old country woman going through pregnancy and childbirth. It is sad to imagine what my ancestor must have gone through, even more devastating to think that her son may have been conceived in an act of violence.

But I digress. My lineage in question is all male, suggesting a Y-DNA test might be the best option. But, could I find a potential relative who had taken or would be willing to take the test? It would be at a distance of fifth cousin, probably in Norway, and would need to be in an “all-male” lineage. If I could even find a willing candidate, I would probably have to pay for his test myself. So at my cousin’s urging, even though it was not my most desired type of test, I took the plunge with an autosomal DNA test instead, with 23andMe, since that was the company my cousin used.

My results came back, and - what are the odds? – The very first “DNA relative” I made contact with gave me the corroborating evidence I needed -- before I even asked!

The initial report listed over 400 such “DNA relatives,” other members whose test results show a certain level of matching DNA segments. On my list, it ranges from 12.8% with my first cousin, to 0.15% for predicted “3rd to distant cousins” In the three months since my test, the list has grown to almost a thousand predicted cousins.

I can’t view most of the names (they were kept private by the users), but of the hundred or so “public matches” (made their names visible to all members), I didn’t recognize a single one. That surprised me a bit, since I know the names of all or nearly all first and second cousins, and a good many third (especially on the Norwegian side). The 23andMe website supports sending messages to any members, even those whose names are private.

One of the “public” names, though, did catch my eye: Joanne Lillevold, a U.S. resident with origins in Oppland, Norway, among other places, was estimated to be my third to fifth cousin. Lillevold is obviously a Norwegian farm name, although I had never heard it before. I knew it was not related to the farm name Lillegard, which is important in the Larson family story, but even so, the similarity prompted me to make Joanne Lillevold the first of my new “DNA relatives” that I attempted to contact.

What luck that she turns out to be 1) a documented cousin, 2) an avid family historian, and 3) a prompt and generous correspondent. I sent Joanne a message, inviting her to view my family tree website, and asking about her background, in particular the Norway connection. Within a day, she replied that she had identified our common ancestors, namely Svend Poulsen Lillegard (1702-1756) and his wife, Marit Poulsdatter Harildstad. Since those two are my fourth great-grandparents and Joanne’s fifth, she correctly calculated that she and I are fifth cousins, once removed. More important than the precise relationship, our connection provides crucial supporting evidence in an area where I was still disturbingly uncertain. With lots of help, I had already proved by documentary evidence that my second great-grandfather (according to the baptism record), Lars Poulsen, b. Flaate (c. 1794-1855), was a grandson of Svend Poulsen Lillegard. Lars Poulsen married Anne Larsdatter Skurdal, and they raised their family as tenant farmers of Skurdal. But his father was born at Lillegard, son of the same Svend Poulsen, and brother of Joanne’s ancestor. All this in spite of the unrelated but similar-sounding farm name.

My nagging doubts about the paternity of my great-grandfather are now laid to rest. With DNA evidence to corroborate the baptism record, there can no longer be any doubt that Lars Paulsen was the biological father of Ole Larson. Tusen takk (a thousand thanks) to my DNA-discovered cousin, Joanne Lillevold of Fergus Falls, MN!

George Larson as a wonderful blog entitled Ole's Blog.


06 May 2014

Family Tree DNA: myOrigins Replaces Population Finder

Family Tree DNA is launching its new version of Population Finder which provides percentages of your ancestral origins and is termed myOrigins.  It will be available to everyone who has taken the Family Finder test or who has transferred from other autosomal databases in a few days.  The feature will in beta testing for now.  As with any major change, beta testing is necessary in order to find all the hidden bugs, so have patience and report any problems you see using the e-mail provided (myorigins@familytree.com) until the support staff is ready for your questions until the official launch. 

GAPs can view now!
At the moment the project administrators can sign into their GAP pages and click on the link in the upper left to get familiar with the myOrigins functions.  GAPs will see a myOrigins column in their Members Reports page for those who have taken the Family Finder Test. Autosomal transfers will be able to view their myOrigins shortly.

Regions and Population Clusters
Thirty-six reference populations and 1,353 samples were used to establish the seven main regions which are divided into a total of 18 clusters. Everyone is assigned to a cluster and given your percentage breakdown.  A full-screen world map shows your particular clusters down to 1%.  The map can be dragged in the desired direction for viewing all portions.

Although you receive all your population clusters, your matches only see what is shared with you up to three clusters.  There is also a link to “opt-out” of sharing your myOrigins information, if you wish.

            European Coastal Islands
            European Coastal plains
            European Northlands
            North Circumpolar
            North Mediterranean Basin
            Trans-Ural Peneplain
Middle Eastern
            Anatolian Crossroads
            Eastern Afroasiatic
            North African Coastlands
Jewish Diaspora
            Easter African Pastoralists
            Kalahari Basin
            Niger-Congo Genesis
Central/South Asian
Eurasian Northeast
East Asian Coastal Islands
New World
            Bering Expansion

Exploring the myOrigins World Map
In the upper left of the world map is your percentages for each region.  By clicking on that region, either on the name of it or the small dot to the left of the bar graph, you can see the various clusters you match within that region. The smaller the percentage you have for a cluster, the lighter the shade of the given color.  If you are European and you click on the bar, you may see European Coastal Islands, North Mediterranean Basin and North Circumpolar.  You can only open one region at a time; however, the link Expand All below the bar graphs allows you to see all at the same time.  Clusters shown in gray are other regions that were not expanded in your chosen view. (All screen shots from FTDNA's webinar, 5 May 2014)

On this world map (see above), there is a chart in the lower left.  On this chart are two tabs: SHARED ORIGINS and MY ANCESTRAL HISTORY. 

SHARED ORIGINS lists the columns:  Names, Relation and up to three cluster areas shared by you and your match.  The chart has a filter which is the same on the Matches and Chromosome Browser pages for your autosomal test.  Speculative matches are not included, however. You can sort any column in chart by clicking on headings, and a search function is on the left of the box which defaults to ALL MATCHES.  The name of your matches and an icon to e-mail them is provided. Under Relation you will see the relationship range, but if there is a check mark just before that suggested range, you know you have determined the relationship all ready.

MY ANCESTRAL HISTORY provides an overview.  However, by clicking on one of the clusters, the Ancestral History section provides more detail about that cluster.  Although the graphic is where the concentration is, the written narrative for each cluster goes geographically farther.  For example, the European Coastal Islands cluster includes all the European Islands from the far north down to the Azores Islands, although you will not see it included in the graphic.  There was much mixing of European populations so populations for coastal islands are even found on the mainland. In another example, Jewish Diaspora is centered in one area and focuses on Ashkenazi Jews (a distinctive group) as it is not possible to point to all the places where the Jews fled. Other areas were a bit isolated, but most have loose boundaries in reality.

Remember, nothing is really, really pure; there was movement and mixing.  These are estimates and cannot be drawn perfectly. The graphics are the concentrated areas. For this reason, it is important that you read the narratives about each cluster to see what other geographic areas are included. Although from your webpage you can only see the information on the clusters that pertain to you, FTDNA will provide information on all the clusters in their Learning Center shortly.

At the bottom right are two map pins that appear as balloons which turn on or off the direct paternal or maternal lines of origin. Orange is paternal; blue-green is maternal.  By clicking on one of these you will see balloons throughout the map showing where the match has their most distant ancestor, much like the previous map at Family Tree DNA.  By clicking on the balloon you get the name of the match and their percentage of the clusters which you have in common with them (See example in the middle of this map).

Below these two balloon pins, there is a plus (+) and minus (-) sign to allow you to zoom in or out, changing the size of the map.

The link in the upper right, just under the word just under myOrigins, returns you to myFTDNA (your webpages).

As more high-quality data-sets are available regions may be broken down more.

White Paper 
In the near future, Family Tree DNA will post the White Paper which contains the methodology and reference populations used for myOrigins at their Learning Center.  Here you will find much more detail than these few bullet points. Visit the Learning Center and notice Recent Works at the bottom. 

Sources used for myOrigns
FTDNA customer database
Human Genome Diversity Project
International Hapmap Project
Estonian Biocentre

Reference Populations are listed with number of samples in the White Paper. 

For more information, visit
FTDNA Learning Center (once white paper is in the learning center)
FTDNA Forums
Various Bloggers

Have fun!