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Proformat News
No: 127
September 2016
News
September Seminars & Heritage Walks
There are no seminars or walks scheduled for September.

October Seminars & Heritage Walks
12: South Australian resources for family history WEA Centre 10:00-1:00pm
16: Adelaide SW Corner Heritage Walk 2:00 to 4:pm
19: How to be a successful family historian (1st of 7 weekly sessions) WEA Centre 8:00 to 9:30pm

All bookings must be made with the hosting organisation. All heritage walks are hosted by the WEA.

See the seminar program for more details and bookings.

Church of Ireland registers
A useful site listing the present location of parish registers may prove useful to some readers.


Coming to grips with my DNA: 2

In the last newsletter detailing my foray into the world of DNA in family history I gave a layman’s explanation of DNA. Once that was relatively clear my thoughts turned to which was the appropriate test to take as a starting point.

The tests
When I first looked at these tests a number of years ago I discovered that a Y-DNA test only revealed your male line son to father-to-father and so on. This seemed rather limiting given my rather rare surname and the small ancestral family involved—my grandfather was an only surviving son, my great grandfather’s sons and their descendants are all known to me and his father was an only son. I just could not see how such a test would enlighten me on my 4x great grandfather and his ancestry given that I have researched the family since 1968 and know from the less than 300 people bearing the surname that they collectively know far less than I have discovered! Moreover being French it seemed less likely any person sharing my Y-DNA would have taken the test given that at this time it was very much USA focused.

In this issue:
News
September Seminars
October Seminars
Church of Ireland registers

Feature article
Coming to grips with my DNA-2

header

Graham Jaunay

Glandore SA 5037
Australia


genealogy@jaunay.com


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Services
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Graham Jaunay uses
The Genealogist - for UK census, BMD indexes and more online simply because it contains quality data checked by experts.


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The companion test, Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) follows the mother’s female ancestry. While Y-DNA makes matches on the Y chromosome, mtDNA tests the genetics of the cell contents and not the chromosomes that are located in the cells’ nuclei. It was revealed that Mitochondrial DNA mutates very slowly meaning such tests are of limited value to genealogists because if you get a perfect match, the common ancestor could well have lived so long ago that you'll never know who they were. This form of test can be helpful when you have a hypothesis that you want to examine. Two relatively recent examples were the identification of Czar Nicholas and his family and the identification of King Richard III’s skeleton. In each case mtDNA from the skeleton was matched to a descendant in the direct female line of his mother and whilst in isolation it did not prove the identity of the skeletons beyond all reasonable doubt, other evidence supported the results. Short of digging up suspected ancestors if you know where they are, this seems to be a test of little helpfulness! In fact I suggest that some of the claims made by some companies in encouraging people to take such tests border on being scams! Many companies will claim such a test will reveal our ethnic origins. These are at best educated guesses as they are only estimates based on statistical analysis of relatively small sets of samples. You may even expect to be told that you share your DNA with a famous figure from history or a skeleton that has been discovered by archaeologists. So what?

Autosomal DNA tests are a relatively recent development. Autosomal DNA is a term used in genetic genealogy to describe DNA that is inherited from the autosomal chromosomes. An autosome is any of the numbered chromosomes, as opposed to the sex chromosomes. Humans have 22 pairs of autosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes (the X chromosome and the Y chromosome). Autosomal DNA is inherited from both parents, and includes random contributions from their parents, grandparents, and so on. To my thinking this seemed the best test because both parents pass on their atDNA to all their children. The children will not have inherited precisely the same bits of DNA but it is extremely likely that there will be a sufficient overlap to reveal a match.

Y-DNA
mtDNA
atDNA
Advantages
Disadvantages
Advantages
Disadvantages
Advantages
Disadvantages
may identify the father of an illegitimate child
only works with males
available to males and females
common ancestor can never be identified
available to males and females
match sorting can be a problem as dependent on other research
if the surname is a match more likely a relationship
low chance of a result because must share a paternal direct ancestor
slow mutation allows ID people who share a common ancient ancestor
likely to get a large number of matches
may not be obvious which ancestral line is shared
variations (mutations) can indicate time difference between samples
can disprove direct maternal line links
the amount of shared DNA can broadly indicate the relationship
some matches may not be correct
most popular test
The key to each test would seem to be the following:
• Y-DNA: is dependent on being able to test someone else who is in the direct line of descent.
• mtDNA: is of no obvious assistance to a genealogist.
• atDNA: is likely to locate new cousins but will require some effort.

All things considered I resolved to select the atDNA test and so it was time to determine which company to select.

Which company?
There are several competing bodies wanting your custom. In my case there were a number of criteria to consider:
  1. The size of the clientele for the company—obviously there is more chance of a match if very large numbers of people have had their DNA tested.
  2. The client base—clearly I will not get a great outcome if the bulk of the customers are Chinese!
  3. The ability to access results—if another body will accept my material I want the opportunity to increase the chances of a match.
  4. The complexity of the test offered—clearly the larger the test sample the better the chance of a result.
  5. The scope of the results—although I am uncertain of the usefulness, it seems like chromosome browsers may prove useful.
  6. Company ethics including their privacy conditions noting that with all the companies my genome is being stored outside Australia.
The three largest providers, Family Tree DNA, Ancestry DNA and 23andMe offer substantially similar tests. They all test the same material and the same range of material, but they have very different clientele with the bulk of customers being in the USA for Ancestry DNA and 23andMe. The problem with this is that many may not know much about their European ancestors and therefore will be of little assistance!

Family Tree DNA charges the same price all over the world and that means that genealogists in Europe and Australasia are particularly likely to have tested with them. Moreover FTDNA seems to be the cheapest.

Ancestry DNA, and 23andMe are also focused on health reports which means that those who engaged them for this purpose are not likely to respond.

There are other companies (about 25) but the leading players are—Genographic (National Geographic) focused on the origins of Man; BritainsDNA – small and expensive and Oxford Ancestors – very very expensive.

GEDmatch is an independent free website that accepts all DNA results and may prove a useful support.

  Ancestry DNA Family Tree DNA 23andMe
Start date 2012 2000 2006
Database North America bias no bias but less records North America bias
Further costs Ancestry subscription none membership fee
GEDCOM upload linked to Ancestry.com yes MyHeritage (member fee)
Testing atDNA atDNA; mtDNA :YDNA atDNA
Health & FH only FH Health & FH
Ethnicity yes yes yes
Storage not clearly disclosed 25 years 10 yrs; discard option
Transfer out yes atDNA only yes
chromosome browser no yes opt in
atDNA SNPs 682,549 690,000 577,382
Match contact via Ancestry's messaging all emails provided must opt in to share
Privacy not clearly disclosed not clearly disclosed to outside research
More detailed comparison data is available online at a useful website maintained by ISOGG. The International Society of Genetic Genealogy (ISOGG) is dedicated to promoting the use of genetics for genealogy. I have found their material very useful.

Given all the features I decided to select Family Tree DNA but I will also use GEDmatch to expand potential matches. I ordered the test kit online for a cost of $91.95 and with my emailed receipt I received a kit number and password. Five weeks elapsed from the time of ordering the kit to receiving advice that my sample had reached the company. I was told I could expect to wait a further eight weeks for the results to be posted online.

To be continued.
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