Hopping Off The DNA Fence

A few months ago Ancestry had a sale on its autosomal DNA test kits, and I finally — finally! — got around to putting my saliva out there, so to speak. (And I get to talk gleefully about saliva, which negates a fair amount of character-building parochial-school education, thereby doubling the fun.)

Autosomal DNA tests draw from the autosomes, which are any of the numbered chromosomes, not the sex chromosomes. The results crisscross both sides of your family tree and identify that many more potential cousins, distant or otherwise.

Then I noticed that for an additional $69, I could link up my Ancestry autosomal results to Family Tree DNA, potentially increasing my reach with another pool of test results to compare against. But was it really worth it? I got as far as clicking the “Checkout” button when one of my cats came in and started yelling for breakfast, and that was enough to shelve the problem for the moment.

However, today comes a post from Judy G. Russell, also known as the Legal Genealogist, who thinks about, writes about and above all explains DNA testing in sparkling-clear terms. It is called 2014: Most Bang For Your DNA Bucks, and if you need a primer on where DNA testing value stands at the moment, click that link. Judy is frank about her own passion for DNA testing as a genealogy tool, but she is also excellent at parsing the prices and benefits.

Basically, I read the comparisons and scenarios, and the Family Tree DNA transfer made supreme sense. The speed with which I put it through made me channel the voice of my late, beloved mom: “Judy Russell! If Judy Russell told you to jump off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you do it?” Hmmm; that’s a toughie. If Judy said it would enhance my DNA results, there’s no telling.

But for now, I’m going to settle for awaiting what comes of my foray into Family Tree DNA.


“Genome Hacking”? Huh.

So that’s what they’re calling it these days.

I thought it was “clipping and pasting online trees.” But what do I know.

But I will take my snark hat off now and say you should read the Nature article if you haven’t already done so. It does contain serious discussion of whether one can combine DNA sequencing data with self-reported genealogical information to arrive at solid conclusions.


Ancestral Secrets + DNA, Royal Edition

Princess-Of-Wales-princess-diana-32114836-220-254So DNA testing has unveiled a hidden ancestral mystery in the family chart of Diana, one-time Princess of Wales. It’s a very modern story, both in the technology it uses and the philosophical attitude with which the revelations are handled in the article.

Eliza Kewark, the distant maternal ancestor in question, was quite likely of half-Indian heritage, according to testing firm BritainsDNA. But in family accounts she was described as being of Armenian descent to obscure what was, in the early 19th century,  considered an unacceptable background for an Englishwoman seeking to make a respectable marriage.

It was nice to see how this story comes across as both interesting and somehow … well, typical. The combination of DNA technology and increased honesty in reporting out research is making these stories just another part of the genealogical landscape, as they’ve always been, or should have been.


Just In From The DNA Beat …

The Deseret News reports today that GeneTree of Salt Lake City has unveiled Y-19 DNA testing. They call it the “differentiator” that can be helpful at filling in details within a known family grouping. Full article here.

And later today I hope to write a bit about my day at Rootstech.


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