DNA

NIH wants 1 Million Americans to Contribute to a New Pool of Genetics Data

Starting this spring, Americans across the country will be invited to contribute to a massive new pool of genomic information being assembled by the government, a project that represents the most ambitious effort yet to capitalize on the promising new frontier of gene-based medicine.

Three years after the National Institutes of Health (NIH) first announced its Precision Medicine Initiative — subsequently redubbed “All of Us” — the agency’s director, Francis Collins, says the large-scale project is ready to expand beyond its initial testing stages. In early spring, on a date yet to be announced, NIH is planning a nationwide launch to start enrolling what it hopes will eventually be as many as 1 million participants.

Genome of Man Who Died in 1827 Has Been Reverse-Engineered Without Any Remains

Hans Jonatan was born in the Caribbean in 1784, migrated to Iceland in 1802, and died in 1827 – and scientists have just managed to reconstruct part of his genome from 182 of his descendants, even though Hans’ remains have long since been lost.

This remarkable feat of reverse genetic engineering – the first time someone’s genotype has been reconstructed using only descendants rather than their physical remains – reveals that Hans’ mother was originally from somewhere in the Benin, Nigeria, and Cameroon region.

The study demonstrates that with enough genealogical and genotype data available, reconstructing a historical genome sequence like this is possible.

What can Your Ancestry Tell You about Neurological Diseases?

The Silicon Republic web site has published an interesting interview with Gianpiero Cavalleri of the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) and deputy director of the Science Foundation Ireland-funded FutureNeuro research centre.

Gianpiero Cavalleri

Cavalleri is researching family trees in order to leverage that knowledge of population structure to help identify new disease genes and genetic changes that might be causing disease from those that are neutral. As part of that effort, he helped to create the first fine-scale genetic map of Ireland, revealing the first evidence of 10 distinct genetic clusters on the island.

The article states:

Major Updates and Improvements to MyHeritage DNA Matching

MyHeritage has made major updates and improvements to the company’s DNA Matching service.

Anyone who took a MyHeritage DNA test, and anyone who uploaded DNA data from another service, will now receive even more accurate DNA Matches; more plentiful matches (about 10 times more); fewer false positives; more specific and more accurate relationship estimates; and indications on lower confidence DNA Matches to help focus research efforts.

The company also also added an initial release of the long-requested chromosome browser.

More information can be found in the MyHeritage Blog post at:  http://bit.ly/2mtj0ZO.

First Genetic Map of Ireland Unlocks Secrets About Ancestors

The first genetic map of the people of Ireland has been produced by scientists at the Royal College of Surgeons and by genealogical researchers at the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The Irish DNA Atlas; Revealing Fine-Scale Population Structure and History within Ireland has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

The study has found that prior to the mass movement of people in recent decades, there were at least 10 distinct genetic clusters found in specific regions across Ireland. It also revealed that seven of those clusters discovered so far are of ‘Gaelic’ Irish ancestry and match the borders of either Irish provinces or historical kingdoms. The other three are of shared Irish-British ancestry, and are mostly found in the north of Ireland and probably reflect the Ulster Plantations.

The Irish DNA Atlas also found that two of the ‘Gaelic’ clusters together align with the boundaries of the province of Munster.

Introducing MyHeritage Surveys for Those Who took a MyHeritage DNA Test or Uploaded Their DNA Test to MyHeritage

The MyHeritage Blog has announced a new service from the company that will “investigate how genetics affects various aspects of our lives.” The announcement says (in part):

“At MyHeritage, we constantly discover new ways for our users to explore their origins and learn more about who they are. Our Science Team, led by world-renowned genetics pioneer Dr. Yaniv Erlich, recently released surveys — a cutting-edge research project to help us investigate how genetics affects various aspects of our lives, with the cooperation of the MyHeritage community.

DNA Wall Art

Here is a rather unusual Christmas gift: a framed canvas art displaying one’s DNA, suitable for hanging on a wall. No two of these will ever be alike. I bet not everyone will receive one of these!

DNA11 is a company in Ottawa, Ontario that produces colorful framed canvas art for hanging, and smaller versions for desk display. One of the offerings is a display of one’s DNA markers. The information for each display comes from a quick and easy swabbing of the inside of your cheek.

Law Enforcement Won’t Use Your Ancestry.com or 23andme DNA Kits for Investigations

A lot of negative, and often misleading, publicity concerning home DNA testing has been floating around the news services this week. Many of the news reports are completely wrong. The WCPO web site has a news story and video that clears the clearly refutes the misleading stories. You can read the truth and watch the video at: http://bit.ly/2kb6JLv.

Family Tree DNA Will Never Sell Your Genetic Data

A lot of negative, and often misleading, publicity concerning home DNA testing has been floating around the news services this week. In an effort to clear the air, Family Tree DNA has issued the following statement:

HOUSTON, Nov. 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ — Family Tree DNA (FTDNA), a division of Gene-by-Gene Ltd, the first to market with a consumer oriented genealogical DNA testing kit and the only genealogical DNA testing company with its own state-of-the-art genetics laboratory, is telling consumers they will never sell their genetic data in a consumer awareness campaign entitled “Can the Other Guys Say That?”

“We feel the only person that should have your DNA is you,” says Bennett Greenspan, President and Founder of Family Tree DNA. “We don’t believe it should be sold, traded, or bartered.”

A MyHeritage DNA Reunion was Featured Live on Good Morning America

An emotional reunion between a mother and daughter who met for the first time took place today live on Good Morning America, the popular U.S. television program. The reunion happened thanks to MyHeritage DNA.

Angie was a teenage mother who placed her baby Meribeth for adoption in 1986. She never got to hold Meribeth after she gave birth to her, and she always hoped that she was adopted by a loving family. For thirty years, they both wondered about one another. MyHeritage DNA enabled Meribeth and Angie to finally find one another.

Purchase a MyHeritage DNA kit for only $59

MyHeritage has a rather attractive offer: Click here to purchase a DNA test kit for $59 US.

There is also a rather attractive advertisement for it as well as shown in this video:

Your Genealogy Research Could Land Your DNA Results in a Criminal Investigation

Just to clarify, the title above does not mean that YOU would be the subject of a criminal investigation. However, your DNA test could result in a criminal investigation into the activities of a family member or other relative.

Millions of people have submitted DNA samples to companies, including to Ancestry.com, 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Living DNA, and others. The websites allow customers to find out where their ancestors came from. However, an article in the KIRO-TV web site suggests that your DNA data could be used for other purposes.

Law enforcement could get access to your DNA profile to solve a violent crime involving a close relative of yours.

Ancestry Adds Options to Share or to Not Share DNA Information

Ancestry has announced a new update to its popular DNA service: an option to share DNA information or to keep the information private. In a statement released yesterday, the company states:

“Customers can now decide if they want to have access to the list of people they may be related to and be shown as a potential family member for other customers with whom they share DNA. While connecting family is one of the main benefits of our service, we also recognize that not everyone is open to discovering their extended family.”

The full announcement may be found at: http://ancstry.me/2A5suyF.

My thanks to the several newsletter readers who told me about the new announcement.

4 Mitochondrial Lines Can Now Prove Ashkenazic Jewish Descent in Israel

An Israeli court has declared DNA as a legal proof of as proof of Jewish descent for certain Ashkenazi Jews, especially for those from the former Soviet Union who don’t have paper documentation available. The finding should help Jewish descendants worldwide prove their Ashkenazi ancestry from their maternal ancestors and even obtain an Israeli passport, if they wish. You can find the article by Jeremy Sharon in the Jerusalem Post at: http://bit.ly/2wCpVTJ.

My thanks to newsletter Ernest Thode for telling me about the article.

Researchers Shed Light on Neanderthals’ Legacy in Humans

Do you like to sleep in until mid-morning? Blame your Neanderthal ancestors! Some human traits that are linked to sunlight – including mood and sleep patterns – may be influenced by a person’s Neanderthal forefathers, according to a study published Thursday.

Researchers examined the genome of more than 100,000 Britons who inherited DNA from Neanderthal ancestors and found they reported higher rates of listlessness, loneliness, staying up late and smoking.

Maine Irish Fundraise to bring DNA Tests to Galway

Here is an interesting twist: Irish descendants in the U.S. are sending DNA kits to find out more about their roots in the Co. Galway Gaeltacht (Irish-speaking district).

The Maine Gaeltacht Project, linked with the Emigration and Diaspora Centre Project in Carna, Co. Galway, is funding DNA testing for Galway locals in an attempt to link members with their Irish families. The Maine Irish found that groups of Irish immigrants from the same townland or county would cluster together when they arrived in the US. That is true of Maine too. That means many of those with Irish roots living in the Portland, Maine, area can trace their family history back to the Connemara Gaeltacht.

You can read more in an article by Frances Mulraney in the IrishCentral web site at: https://www.irishcentral.com/roots/maine-irish-galway-dna-testing.

Only 0.3% of People Have One Ethnicity in their DNA, Showing Our World is a True Blend

When I started writing a blog that is mostly concerned with genealogy, I never expected to also be writing about Irish whiskey. However, strange things do happen. In this case, there is a genealogy lesson to be learned for all of us: Only 0.3% of people have one ethnicity in their DNA, showing our world is a true blend.

The following announcement was written by the folks at Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey:

Tullamore D.E.W. Irish Whiskey partners with MyHeritage DNA to unlock the ‘Beauty of Blend’

Only 0.3% of people have one ethnicity in their DNA, showing our world is a true blend

To celebrate the launch of ‘The Beauty of Blend’, Tullamore D.E.W., the original triple blend Irish whiskey has partnered with MyHeritage DNA, the leading destination for family history and DNA testing, to create a limited edition branded DNA kit which will allow people all over the world to uncover their own unique blend. Reviewing trends of DNA testing from around the world, Tullamore D.E.W. worked with MyHeritage DNA, to uncover that 99.7% of people have a blend of multiple ethnicities, meaning that only 0.3% of individuals sampled are of only one ethnic background.2 The partnership gives fans an opportunity to discover, and celebrate, their own unique blend of ethnicities. Limited edition branded MyHeritage DNA kits will be given away through a gifting program and the Tullamore D.E.W. social channels in the coming months.

How One Woman Brought the ‘Mother’s Curse’ to Thousands of Her French-Canadian Descendants

The first King’s Daughters—or filles du roi—arrived in New France in 1663, and 800 more would follow over the next decade. Given their numbers, they were not literally the king’s daughters of course.

They were poor and usually of common birth, but their passage and dowry were indeed paid by King Louis XIV for the purpose of empire building: These women were to marry male colonists and have many children, thus strengthening France’s hold on North America. French Canadians can usually trace their ancestry back to one or more of these women.

For more information about the filles du roi, see my earlier article at http://bit.ly/2wG6ecP.

Whenever a small group of people leave a large population (France) to found a new one (New France), they bring with them a particular set of mutations. Some of these mutations will by chance be more common in the new population and others less so. As a result, some rare genetic disorders disproportionately impact French-Canadians.

One of these is Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy, which causes vision loss, usually in young men. Recently, geneticists using French Canadian genealogy have reexamined the effects of Leber’s and found a striking pattern of inheritance: It seems to show a long-theorized but never-seen-in-humans pattern called the “mother’s curse.”

Genealogy Travel with Go Ahead Tours and AncestryProGenealogist

Genealogy cruises have become quite popular and several have been described in this newsletter in recent years. (See http://bit.ly/2gNhMbL for some of my past articles about genealogy cruises.) Now a new player is has partnered with Go Ahead Tours to launch heritage-geared tour offerings, led by an expert genealogist and based on your own DNA test.

AncestryProGenealogists and Go AheadTours will offer tours of Ireland, Italy, and Germany in 2018 to start. AncestryProGenealogists’ experts will lead the personal history charge, which is based on an AncestryDNA kit travelers take before departure. Each tour’s genealogist will discuss travelers’ DNA results with them before the trip, and can assist in building a family tree to use on the tour. During this consultation, travelers will have the option to add on site or home visits to specific villages or towns their ancestry searches lead them to—for an added price.

You can read more about these DNA tours at http://bit.ly/2wbpq1M.

Family Tree DNA asks for your Your Help for Hurricane Harvey Relief Efforts

The following brief announcement was written by the folks at Family Tree DNA:

Family Tree DNA is based in Houston, where Hurricane Harvey devastated the city and surrounding areas. As members of the community and corporate citizens, we are donating a portion of the proceeds from the sale of all tests (including upgrades and paid transfers) during the month of September toward Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. A banner at our home page will display the cumulative amount raised and will be updated twice daily. The snip below is from today.

The banner shown above may be too small to read on some screens. You can view a larger version by clicking on the above image or by going to https://www.familytreedna.com.