Has anybody here done "genetic genealogy"?

This one might sink faster than the Hunley but I know there are some Dopers into the genealogy vice, so…

For those not familiar, it’s where you swab your cheek with a Q tip and DNA analysis gives you some geographic matches for your ancestry. The Y-line DNA is the most useful as the DNA on the Y chromosome changes faster and thus it’s more recent to know you have relatives in Glasgow/Addis Ababa/Ho Chi Minh City/whatever, while maternal/mitochondrial is a lot more distant- it’ll tell you which of the various “Eves” you’re descended from but is unlikely to tell you that your mother’s mother’s mother’s mother (etc) was probably from Poland.

Anyway, since my father’s line is one of the earliest brick walls I hit. There’s a large family who came to Maryland ca. 1680 with the same surnames and some of the same distinctive given names (Nicholas, Micajah, Josiah, etc.) and if I can make a definite connection (it probably wouldn’t tell me I’m a descendant of their ancestor but if members of that line are tested it’ll tell me if we came from the same source) then it takes me a lot further back. I’ve thought of doing DNA testing but before paying the money (about $150-$200) I wanted to see if anybody else had, if they felt it was worth it, what kind of answers they got, etc…

Yeah. For me it is of limited use in terms of traditional genealogy, at least in terms of patriline, simply because their aren’t tons of folks with Balkan ancestry in database yet. However, as I remarked in one thread:

So for example, I’ve had this sort of work done and fall into a Y-DNA clade that is currently called I2A ( these designations seem to change every year ). I2A, based on modern distribution patterns and a few other things, seems to have risen in the region of modern day Bosnia in a glacial refugium, during the last glacial maximum in Europe. As it happens my father’s side of the family traces back a couple hundred years at least to modern-day Karlovac province in Croatia, just north of that. It is a reasonable supposition then that my patriline had actually remained sedentary for some 12,000 years or so in the same little patch of ground in the Dinaric Alps, absorbing languages and adapting to new cultures as they moved in and out of the area, until my great grandfather ( Serbian ) emigrated to the U.S. in 1905. Now I find that fascinating.

So if you have any interest in prehistoric movements of peoples it is still fun ( if laying out the cash for that level of supposition is your idea of fun :smiley: ). The more western European you are and the more traditional genealogy footwork you’ve done, the more useful it is likely to be. At least for the nonce. The autosomal DNA is still pretty rough.

Recent threads: http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=471628

My mom was considering this. I’ll forward her this thread and see if she knows anything special about it worth saying.

I recently read a magazine article written by a guy who did this. He decided to visit all of the ethnic groups from whom he was supposedly descended; he had markers from a people in Africa who use the “click language” as well as Basque and a couple of others I can’t remember. The guy said he had always considered himself to be a run of the mill white guy and was fascinated by his genetic background.

I ran across the magazine in a doctor’s waiting room; I think it was in a Traveler magazine put out by National Geographic but I have no idea as to the date it was published.

I always thought it would be a kick to do this; I particularly hoped I could establish a link to some blacker than black African people just to drive my racist father insane but I put it off too long. Even so, it would be fascinating to do.

I keep toying with the idea and even found a service I thought seemed trustworthy (which disappeared from my bookmarks during a system upgrade, dammit) but the expense puts me off.

Someday I’ll probably get around to it because as an adoptee I do feel a sort of wistfulness to know more about my roots, plus I discovered by chance that I have quite a number of physical traits associated with Central Asian/Native American heritage. Having been raised as an ur-wasp, it would be a hoot if the test actually showed some genetic makeup in that direction.

Wouldn’t change a thing about my life though.

The thread title led me to think you were asking about the other genealogic DNA test, where the results are matched to other living carriers.
A relative in the U.S. had it done, I think it cost a grand or two. The lab contacts the individuals involved and assures mutual consent if any contact is desired. Several matches were found in the States, all had the same surname, and the connection was at least eight generations back.

While you genial genealogy guys and gals are here, can I just ask a quick question?

Whilst only being mildly curious myself, I know my dear old Mum would love it if I turned up with a printed off family tree. Can you recommend any online resources I could use, preferably free ones?

I know there are millions of sites available online, but I wanted to pick your brains for the best fruit to pick.

My mom wrote back this question, if anyone knows the answer?

RE: ivan

My mom loves Ancestry.com, but I’m not sure whether it is free or not.

Like you, I hit a major brick wall with my research. There are two major branches of my family in this country: one from Germany and one from Wales. They settled different parts of the country (Philadelphia and the Eastern Shore of VA to be exact). My family has very deep roots about half-way between those two places and I can’t get documentary evidence of a connection to either branch.

I signed up for the Y DNA testing service and am fortunate that enough male descendants of both lines have participated so that I was able to make a more certain (but not 100% match) to the Welsh/English side of the family. It was worth the money as far as I’m concerned.

Forgot to mention, the cost was $99 and I was also able to get the email addresses of a number of the other participants. We’ve traded information (some hits, some misses).

Per your mom’s questions: IANAB, but I would think the answer would be no, she will not get an accurate “trace” if she uses her son’s DNA. Her brother and father (assuming she and her brother have the same parents) share the DNA. However, her son shares her DNA, plus his father’s DNA. The Y that would be traced through the son would be on his father’s side and not biologically related to the mother.

Make sense?

Of course, I could be way off base here. Wait to see if someone can come along with a yeah or neah.

National Geographic offers the tests through its human genome project. It runs around $350, IIRC, and that helps pay for the testing of indiginous people throughout the world.

Sage Rat, your mom answered her own question earlier in the paragraph. If she tests her son, she will get mitochondrial DNA that he inherited from her. However, his Y chromosome came from his father, so it will trace back to his father’s ancestors. In order to find out about her own father’s ancestors, she needs to check with someone who inherited a Y chromosome from him (his son/her brother) or from a paternal male relative of his (his fraternal nephew/her paternal-fraternal cousin).

Remember, the Y chromosome acts like a man’s family name used to. It travels down the male line. If a man has only daughters, then his Y chromosome and his family name end with him.

Be aware that the information contained on websites is only as good as the research conducted by the person posting it. Think of them as message boards with really big messages. Ancestry.com has become the go-to site (it isn’t free), but keep in mind that all those trees are posted there by contributors, not by the hosting entity.

You can also do a search for the site administered by the LDS. They have a HUGE repository of information (but, again, it is only as accurate as the people who supplied the information). The site is free.

Rootsweb.org is free, and you might be able to link to email persons who have the same genealogy as you. Rootsweb has teamed up with Ancestry.com, but the Rootsweb portion is free. Type in a first and last name, hit enter, then look at the link called “WorldConnect”.

This might seem like a silly question, but since women inherit an X from each parent, wouldn’t it still be possible to trace her father’s ancestors from a matrilineal perspective? After all, his X chromosome would have been directly inherited from his mother.

In a sense, the Y chromosome is limited in a different fashion, since it allows you to trace the male line only but omits any female ancestors (since, by definition, they’re only able to contribute X).

Assuming the above is correct, then claiming the Y tests are superior seems a little sexist, no? *

Either way, I think I might bounce this off Mumsy Dearest, the geneticist.

  • Admittedly, I consider the practice of genealogy to be somewhat sexist as a whole, given that the tendency is to track back along the patrilineal line, as if the women along the way did not exist prior to marriage.

The reason why the Y chromosome is good for these tests is nothing to do with “sexism”. It is that the Y has lost virtually all its functions other than making you male. Most of it is “junk DNA” with no function. And junk DNA can, and does, mutate frequently without the danger of harmful mutations being eliminated by Darwinian selection - since it does nothing, it does nothing harmful.

This means that there is a lot of variation in the Y between individuals, though the closer two individuals are related the more similar the junk DNA in their Y chromosomes is.

The X chromosome by contrast still has lots of functional DNA and much less junk. This limits how much mutation and variation there can be since the DNA has to still perform its function or natural selection will weed it out. That makes the X (or any other chromosome) much less useful for tracing ancestry.

I’m sorry, I don’t understand this. Could you explain what you mean? I’ve never known anyone interested in the subject who didn’t look into both sides of the family as far as their research could take them.

I don’t understand the comment, either. It’s generally true that tracing the female side can be very frustrating, since the birth of girls was often not considered to be as important as the birth of a boy, and was just as often not recorded (with dates, etc.) in church and family records. But it would be ridiculous for a researcher not to investigate all possible lines.

The National Genographic Project Kit runs about $95, testing included. But they don’t link you up with others of your Group, that’s an outside agency doing it.