Blaine Bettinger is a genealogist and a DNA expert with a Ph.D. in biochemistry with a concentration in genetics. He is a frequent author and lecturer with a focus on DNA. He has now announced the creation of a new online how-to guide for genetic genealogy. The site will include short instructional how-to videos for beginners, as well as presentations and webcasts for the advanced genealogist.
BBC News has an interesting article by Emma Jane Kirby describing a quandary within the country. deCODE Genetics, an Icelandic company, is asking all residents to donate DNA samples. About one-third of the country’s residents have done so and many others plan to do so. However, a minority of the people are questioning the wisdom and the privacy issues involved.
The following announcement was written by the folks at Gene By Gene, Ltd.:
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.
Update: Ancestry.com to Drop MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com, Mundia and the Y-DNA and mtDNA Tests
I wrote last week (at http://wp.me/p5Z3-lk) about Ancestry.com’s decision to cancel a number of products and services. The article generated a lot of readers’ comments that can be seen at the end of the article. Today, Ken Chahine of Ancestry.com published a response that explains some of the reasons why the company decided to terminate the Y-DNA and mtDNA products.
You can read Ken Chahine’s article at http://goo.gl/CkGt6F.
If you absolutely cannot function without coffee, or find yourself putting bacon on everything you eat, those cravings could be genetic. Researchers at the University of Trieste, and the Burlo Garofolo Institute for Maternal and Child Health performed genome-wide association studies (GWAS) to locate the genes that cause us to prefer certain foods over others. The study found 17 genes that connect to liking certain food such as coffee, bacon, ice cream and dark chocolate.
These studies are all a part of nutrigenetics, which explore the effects between nutritional food and genetic information to find how it relates to ones health.
You can read more in an article by Carl Engelking in Discover Magazine at http://goo.gl/70puKb.
Family Tree DNA is offering discounts on two of the company’s most popular products. Family Finder is an autosomal DNA test that automatically finds your relatives within 5 generations. It works by comparing your DNA to the DNA of other users in Family Tree DNA’s massive database. The Family Finder test is available for $79 (regular $99) until June 17th.
On Thursday, Ancestry.com™ announced that the company will no longer sell Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. Even worse, the results from past Y-DNA and mtDNA tests will no longer be available after September 5, 2014. Ancestry.com apparently will erase all of its customers’ Y-DNA and mtDNA test results. Anyone who has Y-DNA data stored on Ancestry.com probably will want to transfer that data to a different matching service, preferably well before September 5.
Gregorio Valdez, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, and his team have designed a search engine, called EvoCor. It reportedly identifies genes that are functionally linked. The name, a portmanteau of “evolution” and “correlation,” points to the idea that genes with a similar evolutionary history and expression pattern have evolved together to control a specific biological process. The goal is to find ways to treat diseases that often have a genetic component, such as cancer or Alzheimer’s disease.
An Alaska man reportedly is the lead plaintiff in a proposed class-action lawsuit. An online article claims the lawsuit was placed against “FamilyTee, a Texas-based DNA testing company.” I assume that is FamilyTree DNA, based in Houston. However, the newspaper article in the Ars Technica web site simply says “FamilyTee,” not FamilyTee, DNA. Maybe it is two different companies, although I doubt it. More likely it is sloppy reporting by the author of the article to not properly use the full name of the company.
In any case, the lawsuit claims that “the results of his DNA tests were made publicly available on the Internet, and his sensitive information (including his full name, personal e-mail address, and unique DNA kit number) was also disclosed to third-party ancestry company RootsWeb (a subsidiary of Ancestry.com, a company that allows users to research their lineage).”
The following was written by the Genetic Genealogy Standards Committee:
A group of individuals, including genealogists, genetic genealogists, and scientists, have worked for the past several months to develop a draft of genetic genealogy standards. The document is intended to provide ethical and usage standards for the genealogical community to follow when purchasing, recommending, sharing, or writing about the results of DNA testing for ancestry.
To ensure that this document accurately reflects the standards embraced by the community, we are opening this document [at https://sites.google.com/site/geneticgenealogystandard/] for a period of public comment, from May 12, 2014 through June 6, 2014.
DNA sequencing can already tell us a lot about our ancestors—but now, a new technique developed by an international team of scientists reportedly allows them to pinpoint a person’s geographical origin—going back 1,000 years.
The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool beats previous best attempts to tie location to DNA. It claims to track populations back to the islands or villages they descend from, with a 98 percent success rate, compared to within about 500 miles for old methods.
Medical professionals have long known that biogeographical data is useful in screening for disease risk and drug sensitivity associated with certain ethnic groups. Using a database of worldwide populations, investigators developed a dataset of reference populations that are genetically diverse and have been geographically localized for centuries. With the newly-developed tool, the investigators were able to take unknown samples, identify the proportions of admixture–meaning, genetic characteristics specific to certain ethnic groups that were combined because of events like migration or invasion–and then calculate the distance to the nearest known population that shares the same admixture signature, in order to identify place of origin.
To commemorate DNA Day and Arbor Day, Family Tree DNA has announced the release of a new Y-DNA Haplotree. The company states the “key to unlocking your ancestral beginnings is now closer than ever with the addition of more than 5,000 new SNPs and hundreds of new branches.” To help you refine your new Y-DNA Haplotree, all SNPs are offered at 20% off through April 29, 2014.
You can learn more at https://www.familytreedna.com/y-dna-compare.aspx.
Family Tree DNA has sent project administrators a pre-announcement of a limited DNA Day sale, in effect only April 25-29. The 20%-off sale applies only to Y-DNA SNP tests and Y-DNA37, not to the company’s other services. The sale officially begins at 12:01AM on April 25 and will end at 11:59pm on April 29.
The sale has not yet been officially announced. However, keep an eye on the company’s web site at http://www.familytreedna.com for details that should appear soon.
CeCe Moore, Dr. Tim Janzen, and others are organizing a brand-new conference that sounds like it should be a winner.
The Institute for Genetic Genealogy is the new organization that will produce the 2014 International Genetic Genealogy Conference, to be held August 15-17 in Washington, DC at the National 4-H Youth Conference Center. An outstanding group of genetic genealogists and population geneticists have agreed to speak at this conference. Representatives from all of the major genetic genealogy companies have agreed to give presentations. Dr. Spencer Wells, who heads the National Geographic Genographic Project, will be the keynote speaker. A significant percentage of the presentations will pertain to autosomal DNA analysis.