DNA

MyHeritage DNA Testing Featured on the Dr. Phil Show

U.S. residents are probably familiar with Dr. Phil’s television show. Dr. Phil says he was always aware of his Irish ancestry, but it wasn’t until he submitted a simple cheek swab to MyHeritage DNA that he realized there was more to his lineage. He used MyHeritage to test his ancestry.

“Dr. Phil, we found that you have three distinct ethnicities in six distinct countries,” says MyHeritage consultant Yvette Corporon.

Genealogy Data Helps Track Back Rare Disease Alleles to Quebec Founder Families

A Canadian team has harnessed genealogical data from Quebec to retrace the history of a rare recessive disease called “chronic atrial and intestinal dysrhythmia” (CAID), using a computational approach for inferring rare allele transmission history.

Researchers from McGill University and elsewhere used their software package, known as ISGen, to analyze past transmission of CAID alleles with the help of high-quality genealogical data for more than 3.4 million individuals of European ancestry in the Canadian province. The approach traced the rare heart and digestive condition back to French settlers who arrived in the region in the early 17th century, the team reported in the American Journal of Human Genetics.

You can read more in the research team’s announcement at: http://bit.ly/2Svhp3k. A free registration may be required, however.

If You Don’t Want to Deal with Family Skeletons, Don’t Look in the DNA Closet

Amy Dickinson is an American newspaper columnist who writes the syndicated advice column Ask Amy. In a recent column, she published a letter from a reader asking how to handle a family surprise: upon having her DNA tested, the writer discovered she had a half-sibling that she was not aware of previously. She then shared this bit of information with her family, including with both of her parents.

The information was not well received.

You can read this rather interesting letter and Amy Dickinson’s advice in a number of newspapers, including the Detroit Free Press at: http://bit.ly/2QxfdL6.

Comment by Dick Eastman: I certainly cannot compete with Amy Dickinson’s nationally-syndicated advice column but I will offer one piece of advice to genealogists: If your research finds a something that was previously not widely known within the family, you might want to stop and consider the implications before you broadcast that information to your relatives. Do you really HAVE to tell everyone? or anyone?

Mitochondria Reportedly Can Come From Fathers Too

If this research is verified by others, this could turn out to be revolutionary. In some cases, mitochondrial DNA reportedly can be inherited from fathers.

Scientists and geneticists have always believed that mitochondrial DNA is inherited directly from your mother’s cells, which means there’s no paternal component. This is a big deal for anthropologists and geneticists, because these scientists use mitochondrial DNA to trace back our history through the generations.

A group of researchers found three unrelated families where individuals had mitochondrial DNA from both parents. A total of 17 people across these three families were affected, suggesting that mitochondria aren’t as exclusively maternal as scientists believed.

A Proposal to Make Money by Selling Your DNA Information

Disclaimer: I am offering this information about a new company’s business plans “as is.” I am not endorsing the company’s service or recommending it in any way. I find the information in this article to be very interesting but I am not yet signing up as a customer of this new service. Instead, I plan to sit back for a while and watch what happens. You need to evaluate the company’s plans for yourself before you sign up.

A few weeks ago, Encrypgen launched what it claims is the world’s first blockchain genomic data marketplace. The company claims it can now begin generating revenues by bringing data buyers and sellers together through a cryptocurrency platform.

According to Encrypgen’s business plans, consumers and researchers will be able to transact with each other in a way that is beneficial to both parties and to Encrypgen. Consumers will be able to upload their genomic data and store it securely. The names, addresses, and all other identifying information of each consumer will be removed from the data and encoded in such a manner that researchers cannot identify the consumer but any payments made by the researchers will eventually be shared with the consumer who uploaded the DNA information.

Findmypast Announces Black Friday DNA Sale

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

Now You Can Sequence Your Genome For Just $200

UPDATE: This “limited time offer” has now expired.

NOTE: This isn’t about having a few markers of your DNA tested for genealogy purposes. Instead, it describes a test to have your ENTIRE GENOME tested.

The first nearly complete human genomes were sequenced in 2007: J. Craig Venter and James Watson. The exact cost of the effort was never precisely calculated but it probably cost a million dollars or more for the laboratories involved. (The cost was not passed on to the individuals being sequenced.)

Now, only eleven years later, for the next 48 hours, Cambridge-based Veritas Genetics will be lowering its $999 whole genome sequencing and interpretation service for just $199 for two days, or to the first 1,000 people who buy spit kits. Again, that is a limited-time offer.

One Company Offers To Sequence Your Genome Free Of Charge, Then Let You Profit From It

“Everything is private information, stored on your computer or a computer you designate,” says George Church, genetics professor at Harvard Medical School, about the approach of Nebula Genomics.

The blockchain was invented in 2008 for the purpose of tracking the exchange of Bitcoins in a manner that cannot be hacked. So far, the blockchain has proven to be the most secure computer method available for tracking information about all sorts of things. Today, the blockchain is used to track financial transactions at major banks, for recording transfers of cryptocurrencies, for tracking the source of fish from the point of being caught to a sushi restaurant, and for the tracking of spare parts sold by large industrial manufacturers.

NOTE: For an explanation of what a blockchain is and how it works, look at Blockchain Explained at https://www.upfolio.com/ultimate-blockchain-guide.

A startup genetics company says it’s now offering to sequence your entire genome (not just the markers on interest to genealogists, but EVERYTHING) at no cost to you. Nebula Genomics, created by the prominent Harvard geneticist George Church and his lab colleagues, seeks to upend the usual way genomic information is owned. In fact, you would retain ownership of the 6 billion bits of your genetic source code instead of giving the information away to some company in the manner that most of today’s DNA databases operate. You might even be able to make money off it, although the amount of money earned probably will be modest. The information would be stored privately in a blockchain that cannot be hacked.

MyHeritage Announces a New Feature for DNA users — the Display of Shared Ancestral Places for DNA Matches

MyHeritage now can show you towns, countries and U.S. states where birth or death events of ancestors took place that appear in your family tree and that you have in common with your DNA Matches. This feature makes the company’s DNA Matching even more useful by helping pinpoint how you and your DNA Matches could be related.

Quoting from the announcement:

“Shared Ancestral Places refer to towns, countries, or U.S. states that appear in your family tree as well as in the family trees of your DNA Matches, where birth or death events of your ancestors (and those of your DNA Matches’ ancestors) took place. These places are identified going back up to 10 generations and can play a vital role in family history research.

Findmypast Partners With Living DNA to Launch the Most Detailed Ancestry Discovery Experience

The following announcement was written by Findmypast:

  • Findmypast, in collaboration with Living DNA, has launched the most advanced biogeographical ancestry discovery experience on the market
  • This British brand partnership uses cutting-edge science to reveal users’ unique British and Irish heritage across 21 regions and is the first to connect DNA to Findmypast’s archive of more than 9 billion historical records
  • Findmypast and Living DNA’s combined service allows users to pinpoint exactly where in the UK their family roots come from and then use the findings to explore their family history in extensive archives
  • Those who have already taken DNA tests can upload their tests here and make discoveries that only Findmypast DNA can provide

Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has launched their partnership with leading British DNA testing firm, Living DNA, to create a new biogeographical ancestry experience to help family historians explore their worldwide and British and Irish roots.

Available from today, the partnership combines science and history to allow people to explore their past in more depth than ever before possible. It uses Living DNA’s unique test employing cutting-edge science to provide a unique breakdown of 80 global regions, including 21 across Britain and Ireland. Exclusive to Living DNA, this method delivers a level of detail currently unmatched by any other DNA test available on the market.

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

The following announcement was written by the Board for Certification of Genealogists:

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

GenoPalate Uses Genetics as a Guide Toward Healthful Eating

Disclaimer: I am not qualified to decide if this new service is medically sound or not. However, I do find it to be an interesting concept. The following is presented “as is.” You can decide if it makes sense or not.

Genealogists are well aware of the value of DNA in researching one’s family history. Most of us also are aware of many medical benefits and even some law enforcement benefits of DNA testing. However, one company wants to use your DNA information in order to encourage you to eat smarter.

Milwaukee-based GenoPalate does this by analyzing DNA and combining the results with thousands of nutritional variables.

Elizabeth Warren Releases DNA Results Showing she has Native American Heritage

A rather silly political battle has been underway for more than a year between Donald Trump and Senator Elizabeth Warren. It seems that Warren stated that her family had always told her that the family has Native American ancestry. Donald Trump made fun of her claim, referring top her as “Pocahontas” and other derogatory names. You can find dozens of videos of the childish exchange of claims on YouTube by starting at https://duckduckgo.com/?q=site%3Ayoutube.com+trump+pocahontas&t=h_&ia=web.

Donald Trump has even said he would donate $1 million to charity if Warren took a DNA test.

Now the tables have been turned. Senator Elizabeth Warren had her DNA tested and it shows… Native American ancestry.

Someone Else’s DNA Can be Used to Identify You

More than 60 percent of Americans who have some European ancestry can be identified using DNA databases — even if they have not submitted their own DNA, researchers reported Thursday.

Enough people have done some kind of DNA test to make it possible to match much of the population, the researchers said. So even if you don’t submit your own DNA, if a cousin does, it could lead people to you.

Details may be found in an article by Maggie Fox in the NBC News web site at: https://nbcnews.to/2CckjVT.

New Zealand Siblings Meet for the First Time Thanks to DNA Quest

The following was written by the folks at MyHeritage:

In March 2018, we launched DNA Quest, a pro bono initiative to help adoptees and their birth families reunite through genetic testing. The response to the project was incredible. MyHeritage users poured out their hearts to us with their stories of searching, and their hopes for the future including reunification and belonging. We provided thousands of free MyHeritage DNA kits to eligible participants.

We are excited to bring you one of the many life-changing reunions that have taken place as a result of DNA Quest. Without the assistance of this important initiative, half-siblings Susan and Terry, both New Zealanders, living only an hour or so away from each other, may have spent years not knowing the other existed.

Watch the exciting moment they met here:

The full article may be found in the MyHeritage Blog at http://bit.ly/2zYnfDZ and more info may be found  in The New Zealand Herald at: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/lifestyle/news/article.cfm?c_id=6&objectid=12135548.

Opinion: Your DNA Is Not Your Culture

This is a bit of a follow-up and a rebuttal to an article I published a few days ago: Discover Your “Musical DNA” at https://blog.eogn.com/2018/09/24/discover-your-musical-dna/:

Writing in The Atlantic, Sarah Zhang points out that “A Spotify playlist tailored to your DNA is the latest example of brands cashing in on people’s search for identity.”

Discover Your “Musical DNA”

An online advertisement caught my eye: “Spotify & AncestryDNA Users Can Now Generate Personalized Playlists Based On Their DNA Heritage Results.”

Really? My musical DNA? What is that?

An article by Kaitlyn Wylde in the Bustle.com web site states:

AncestryDNA has joined forces with Spotify to create the ultimate personal playlist curation experience. And by “personal”, I mean the playlist that this partnership offers you will resonate with you very deeply — aka, the music is literally tuned to your DNA. Yes, using your AncestryDNA results, Spotify will put together a collection of songs that are based on your heritage. If you’re in the market for a closer connection to your music library, this special feature will definitely hit the spot. I mean, how much closer can you get than sharing DNA?

Blaine Bettinger Launches DNA Central

Blaine Bettinger is a genealogy expert who specializes in the use of DNA to trace family trees. He is a prolific author and public speaker. Here is a photo I took of Blaine while speaking at the Unlock the Past conference in Seattle about two weeks ago:

Now, Blaine has launched DNA Central. It is a membership-based website that brings together in one place DNA news, tests, discounts and much more. According to the web site:

DNA leads to Arrest in Florida Woman’s 1999 Murder

On March 29, 1999, Deborah Dalzell’s body was found inside her home off Colony Meadows Lane in Sarasota, Florida. Her co-workers were concerned when she did not show up for work. When deputies arrived, they found her brutally beaten, sexually battered, and strangled. Who did it remained a mystery for nearly two decades. The main piece of evidence left behind was DNA from the suspect.

The mystery man was finally unmasked this week. Deputies announced the arrest of 39-year old Luke Fleming. At the time of the murder, he lived less than a mile away from Dalzell. Fleming was charged with murder and sexual battery with great bodily harm. He remains in the Sarasota County Jail on a $1.2-million bond.

“Thanks to DNA evidence coupled with ancestry and genealogy, we’ve finally connected the dots,” said Sheriff Tom Knight.

Prediction: “Hundreds” of Crimes will soon be Solved using DNA Databases

Genealogist CeCe Moore is well known for her work in using DNA information to solve “cold cases” for police departments. She has now indicated this is just the beginning of such work. Suspects in hundreds of unsolved murders and rapes will be identified using public DNA databases in the near future, according to her statements at the recent MIT Technology Review’s EmTech conference.

CeCe Moore is the head of a genealogy unit at Parabon Nanolabs. The company has already helped US police forces identify suspects in nine grisly crimes since last spring. It does so by using crime-scene DNA to locate relatives who have uploaded their own profiles to a consumer genealogy service. Once blood relatives are located, the identity of suspects can be inferred from family trees.

In addition, a volunteer group called the DNA Doe Project has been identifying human remains, and a forensics organization, Identifiers International, has said it is working on a dozen murders.

You can read more and watch a video in an article by Antonio Regalado, MIT Technology Review’s senior editor for biomedicine, at: http://bit.ly/2OF7zKJ.