DNA

Ancestry.com Changed how it Determines Ethnicity and People are Upset

There is an article by Marc Daalder in the Detroit Free Press that will interest genealogists. It starts:

“Ancestry.com, the website better known for helping users create family trees, find distant family members and capture suspected serial killers, made a lot of customers angry last week.

“Recently, Ancestry has entered the business of DNA testing, which allows users to send a vial of spit to the company and receive in return a detailed genetic portfolio, including risk for some diseases and estimates of their ethnic ancestry.

“Neither the medical nor the heritage information are guaranteed to be 100 percent accurate, but as the science improves, so does the quality of the results. At least, that’s what Ancestry insists.

“After Ancestry rolled out a new update to its ethnicity estimate system last week, users noticed dramatic changes in their ethnic profiles – some of which is inaccurate, customers say.”

Later in the article, Marc Daalder also states:

MyHeritage now Supports 23andMe version 5 and Living DNA Uploads

Here is another industry first from MyHeritage. If you are using MyHeritage’s FREE DNA matching service or are thinking of using the FREE service soon by using DNA results obtained from another testing company, you will be interested in this news. According to an announcement from MyHeritage:

“We now support the upload of 23andMe v5 and Living DNA data files, in addition to supporting data uploads from all major DNA testing services, including Ancestry, 23andMe (prior to V5) and Family Tree DNA (Family Finder).

Upcoming Changes to the FREE MyHeritage DNA Matching Service

As of December 1, 2018, MyHeritage’s policy regarding DNA uploads will change: DNA Matching will remain free for uploaded DNA data, but unlocking additional DNA features (for example, ethnicity estimate, chromosome browser, and some others) will require an extra payment for DNA files uploaded after this date.

MyHeritage will announce the full details of the new policy once it is finalized, closer to December 1st. All DNA data that was uploaded to MyHeritage in the past, and all DNA data that is uploaded between today and prior to December 1, 2018, will continue to enjoy full access to all DNA features for free. These uploads will be grandfathered in and will remain free.

Co-workers Discover they are actually Father and Son

DNA is great for finding relatives, both close relatives and distant ones as well. However, DNA isn’t always necessary.

A pair of co-workers in Wisconsin recently made a surprising discovery. They found out they’re not just friends. It seems they’re also father and son. DNA apparently was not used to make the discovery.

Both men are truck drivers for the same company, and have worked together for two years.

You can read more and watch a video about this story at: https://6abc.cm/2LZHsvG.

Like It or Not, Everyone might soon be in a DNA Database

There is an interesting article by Stuart Leavenworth in the Herald.net web site:

“Familial searches led California authorities to arrest Joseph James DeAngelo in the Golden State Killer probe in April, and investigators have since used it to make breakthroughs in several other unsolved murder cases, including four in Washington state, Pennsylvania, Texas and North Carolina.

“But as these searches proliferate, they are raising concerns about police engagement in “DNA dragnets” and “genetic stop and frisk” techniques. And as public DNA databases grow and are accessed by law enforcement, investigators may soon have the ability to track down nearly anyone, even people who never submitted their genetic material for analysis.

“’If you are a privacy zealot, this is super alarming. It means you don’t have any privacy,’ said Malia Fullerton, a bioethics specialist and professor at the University of Washington. ‘On the other hand, if you have no problem with police using your family information to solve these cold cases, you might see this as a good thing.’”

Father and Daughter Reunite on The Megyn Kelly Today Show Thanks to their DNA Tests

New Hampshire social worker Kim Fairbank, 51, always knew she was adopted. After a rough childhood of familial disappointments, she yearned to connect with her biological family. She tried DNA testing and waited for answers. It was MyHeritage DNA that brought Kim the match of a lifetime — with her biological father.

You can watch the reunion in the video below or on the MyHeritage Blog at: http://bit.ly/2ofsB6Z.

Another Suspect In Decade-Old Serial Rapes Arrested With Help Of Genealogy Database

For more than 10 years, police In Fayetteville, North Carolina, had been trying to identify a serial rapist. They had tied him to at least six rapes in the same neighborhood between 2006 and 2008. They called him the “Ramsey Street Rapist.” They never gave up trying to find the perpetrator. A few days ago, they identified the man, thanks to Parabon NanoLabs and the public genealogy DNA database, GEDmatch.

Darold Bowden, the suspect arrested, was a “career petty criminal” who had just barely avoided having his DNA collected by law enforcement. Bowden faces a range of felony charges, including first-degree forcible rape, burglary, kidnapping, and indecent liberties with a child. He’s being held with an $18.8 million bond.

Details may be found in an article by Camila Domonoske in the NPR web site at: https://n.pr/2MVi5zF.

Can Siblings Have Different DNA Ethnicity Estimates?

If you are learning about DNA, there is an interesting article in the MyHeritage Blog that you might want to read:

“It comes as no surprise that when two siblings are DNA tested, their results will usually be similar. What is surprising to many people, though, is how two siblings (not twins) with exactly the same parents and ancestors can receive different ethnicity results. After all, identical ancestors should give identical ethnicity estimates, right?

“Well, it’s not that simple. In fact, it’s rather common for siblings to have different ethnicity estimates. There are several factors that can affect genealogical ethnicity. We’ll take a look at those factors here.”

The Genetics of Cousin Marriage

It’s conventional wisdom that procreation between first cousins is unhealthy. But what are the actual genetic risks?

James MacDonald describes some of the risks in a new article. He writes:

“In much of the world, consanguineous marriage between cousins is very common. For most Americans, however, marriage between cousins is at best a punchline, at worst a taboo. In many states, it is illegal for first cousins to get married. The objections are ostensibly based on the risk of genetic problems. But is there an actual risk?”

You can find the article in the JSTOR Daily at: http://bit.ly/2w0K47v.

 

Genealogists Help in the Hunt for ALS Genes along a large Family Tree in Kentucky and Virginia

One family with origins in Ewing, Virginia, just east of the state’s mountainous meeting point with Kentucky and Tennessee seem to suffer from a medical condition they knew as cancer of the throat. They lost the ability to chew, swallow, and speak, they lost weight, and then they died. A doctor recognized it as something else: ALS. The medical condition also is often called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.”

NOTE: ALS, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord. As this area degenerates, it leads to scarring or hardening (“sclerosis”) in the region.

Notable individuals who have been diagnosed with ALS include baseball great Lou Gehrig, theoretical physicist, cosmologist and author Stephen Hawking, Hall of Fame pitcher Jim “Catfish” Hunter, Senator Jacob Javits, actor David Niven, “Sesame Street” creator Jon Stone, musician Lead Belly (Huddie Ledbetter), entertainer Dennis Day, jazz musician Charles Mingus, former vice president of the United States Henry A. Wallace, and others.

ALS often is inherited, passed on from one generation to another within a family. However, not everyone within the family develops ALS. By the time the symptoms are apparent, it is normally too late to slow down the disease.

Genetic Genealogy Is Now Solving Recent Crimes, not Just Cold Cases

In recent weeks, the news services have been full of articles about law enforcement officials using the publicly-available genealogy DNA site GEDmatch to find relatives of criminals who committed crimes many years ago, Most of the cases involved “cold cases,” violent crimes committed 20 to 40 years ago. However, the use of this technology has moved forward. Now the officials are using GEDmatch and whatever other publicly-available DNA information they can find to identify criminals in more recent cases.

For instance, a 31-year-old man, Spencer Glen Monnett, was arrested by police in Utah on July 28 for the rape of an elderly woman, Carla Brooks. The crime happened only last April. Monnett was located via “genetic genealogy”: DNA he left at the crime scene was used to find his relatives and then him.

You can read more in the MIT Technology Review web site at http://bit.ly/2AtJofz.

DNA Testing Companies Offering Genetic Testing Pledged to Follow Voluntary Guidelines

The following announcement was posted to the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies (IAJGS) mailing list by Jan Meisels Allen and is republished here with her permission:

In light of the recent familial DNA testing by the public DNA site GEDMatch,  private genetic testing companies pledged on July 31 to follow voluntary “Privacy Best Practices for Consumer Genetic Testing Services”. The companies pledged  to obtain consent from users before sharing “individual-level information”, including personal information, and genetic data with other businesses.   The concern over privacy of the DNA data, which resulted in the “Best Practices” pledge stems from law enforcement being helped by using the familial DNA matching to find the suspected Golden State Killer (he has not yet been convicted so I am saying suspected) which did not require a court-ordered warrant and other potential cold case criminals.

DNA Testing by the Canadian Government to aid Deportations Leaves Plenty of Room for Misinterpretation and Mistreatment

The Canada Border Services Agency recently has been collecting the DNA of immigrants and using a genealogy DNA website to find and contact their distant relatives and establish their nationality.

Border security has become a political hot potato with the arrival on foot from the United States of 30,000 asylum seekers since January 2017, putting strains on Canada’s refugee system and provoking a public backlash. Most of the refugees being refused entry are not U.S. citizens escaping the political turmoil south of the Canadian-U.S. border. Instead, most are originally from other countries, often ones that do not have extensive records of their own citizens’ births or other vital statistics.

Canada announced last week it was expanding the collection of biometrics such as fingerprints and photos for refugee claimants, individuals facing extradition, and foreign nationals seeking a temporary resident visa, work permit, or study permit. CBSA claims it always obtains consent from the individual before submitting their DNA to these websites.

MyHeritage DNA Opens a European Distribution Center

One recent press release caught my eye and may interest European readers of this newsletter: MyHeritage Ltd. has opened a new distribution center for its DNA testing kits in Tilburg, a city in the south of the Netherlands, the company announced Sunday. The new center will ship and collect kits to and from most countries in Europe. Customers in Norway and Switzerland will be serviced through the company’s U.S. offices.

The move is part of a wider plan to accelerate MyHeritage’s growth in Europe, Ran Michnowski, vice president of operations for the company said in a statement.

The full announcement may be found at: http://bit.ly/2OvxS6z.

23andMe’s DNA Library to be used for Drug Development

If you had your DNA tested by 23andMe (as I did), your information will be used to help develop new drugs for various medical conditions. However, not everyone is happy with the idea of using personal information for use in developing products by a for-profit company in a for-profit research project.

23andMe has partnered with pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), in a bid to develop new drug treatments. 23andMe, which gives customers insight into their genetic makeup via postal saliva tests, has some five million customers — a potential DNA database considerably larger than those generally available to the scientific community. “By working with GSK, we believe we will accelerate the development of breakthroughs,” 23andMe CEO Anne Wojcicki wrote in a blog post.

Xcode Life Releases Free Do-It-Yourself Tools for Ancestry DNA Raw Data Holders

If you are very familiar with DNA as used in genealogy, you may be interested in this software tool announced this weekend by Xcode Life of Chennai, India. The company sells a variety of DNA raw data analysis tools software tools. Here is the company’s announcement of its newest product. the Interformat Data conversion tool:

Xcode Life has announced the release of a suite of free DNA raw data analysis tools catering to the personal genomics community. These tools help in getting the most value out of raw data from ancestry DNA tests from various companies such as 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, Living DNA, among several others.

CHENNAI, India – July 21, 2018 – Xcode Life, a global personal genomics company has released a suite of free tools to help individuals with the analysis of DNA raw data provided by companies like 23andMe, Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA and My Heritage DNA.

Findmypast and Living DNA Announce a Partnership

The following announcement was written by Findmypast and Living DNA:

  • The two leading British companies are creating a new DNA experience focused on uncovering British & Irish roots
  • New service will be launched in Fall 2018
  • Living DNA tests now available at Findmypast  

Thursday July 19th: Leading British and Irish family history website, Findmypast, has today announced a new partnership with the providers of the world’s most advanced DNA test, Living DNA.

Together, the two British companies are creating a new DNA experience that is designed to help customers explore their British and Irish roots. This new experience will combine cutting-edge science with traditional family history research methods, allowing families to discover more about their past and present.

How Can Siblings Have DNA Showing Different Ethnicity Estimates?

If you have a DNA test performed and it shows 35% German ancestry, 25% Irish ancestry, 10% Scandinavian ancestry, and the rest from the Middle East, does that mean your brother or sister will show exactly the same results if they also take a DNA test? Actually, the answer usually is “no.”

How can full-siblings have different ethnicities when they have the same parents? It’s a consequence of the complex relationship between genetics, ancestry, and ethnicity.

Common Misconceptions about DNA Testing

When learning about any new technology, it is equally important to learn what the technology CAN do as well as what it CANNOT do. In fact, there are numerous fallacies floating around concerning DNA testing.

A new article in the MyHeritage Blog explains why some of these fallacies are inaccurate. You might want to read the article at http://bit.ly/2KP5lKN.

 

MyHeritage Launches New Filtering System for DNA Matches

I have only used this briefly but it certainly did work well for me!

MyHeritage has released a brand new filtering system for DNA Matches — which will be very helpful for anyone looking for DNA cousin matches.

Quoting the announcement on the MyHeritage Blog:

“DNA Matches are people who share DNA segments with you. Each DNA Match is thought to be related to you, with one or more shared segments inherited from one or more common ancestors. By now, the DNA database on MyHeritage has grown so large, that most users on MyHeritage have thousands of DNA Matches. Managing all those DNA Matches, and making sense of them has become a challenge — and this is exactly where the new filtering system comes in!