The following is a Plus Edition article written by and copyright by Chris Pomery.
The recently announced news that the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a common standard for the reporting of Y-chromosome DNA profiles is extremely good news for any male genealogist who has already, or will in the future, take a Y-chromosome DNA test.
During the ten years since this kind of DNA testing was first targeted at family historians, a range of DNA testing firms have marketing tests specifically aimed at you and me. The result they send us back is basically a series of numbers. Compare that series with another man’s series, and you can estimate whether the two of you share a common male ancestor within the past thousand years, the widest historical timeframe that genealogical research can handle, or whether the link between you goes back in time much further.
Now, my feeling has always been that I shouldn’t need to understand the science underlying those numbers in order to be able to compare my result with the other guy’s. But until now I had to do that extra work because the different DNA testing firms report their results in slightly different ways. And as the manager of a surname DNA project, I’ve had to understand the differences between no fewer than four companies and take account of them when comparing our group results.
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