Wednesday, April 20, 2011

DNA Heritage ceases operations and transfers databases to FTDNA

The genetic genealogy world just got a little smaller with
the closing of the DNA testing company DNA Heritage,
which was founded in 2003 by the well-respected Alastair

DNA Heritage customers received the following
email regarding the transfer of assets to FTDNA:

Dear Customers,

Today we have signed an agreement with Family Tree DNA
to transfer the DNA Heritage database, and also the
Ybase domain, site and database. In a few weeks time,
the DNA Heritage domain will also be transferred.
Customers within the DNA Heritage database will be able
to opt-in to be uploaded into the FTDNA database.
Family Tree DNA will organize this opt-in process.
New orders can then later be taken through Family Tree
DNA. Project Funds for Surname Projects will remain
intact in the transfer.

In recent months sales have lowered which impacts the
rate at which we can cover the costs of the lab process.
With no immediate rise in sales, this became
unsustainable so we started the process of finding
a suitable company that could a) absorb the customer
database and b)continue testing at the same markers.
The number of companies that are able to do this is
limited but we hope that our past customers will be
happy with the transfer.

Because of the income from the sale of assets, testing
will resume at our current labs and we shall complete
all those in process, and also for those that have

Customer tests will be handled thus:

If we have your sample and it is paid for, then we shall
get results out to you as soon as is possible. This
means that YSTR samples will be about 3 and a half
weeks or less, and mtDNA samples about 5 and a half
weeks or less.

If you have pre-paid and are about to return your sample
kit, then please do as we will test it.
If you have pre-paid and not yet received a kit, please
email us so that we can send a fresh kit out.

We have received recent orders but we haven't yet sent
out kits for. We shall contact these individuals to
provide the option of testing.

If we have had your DNA sample for less than 6 months,
we still have your DNA. However, this won't be
transferred over to Family Tree DNA and will be
discarded after the 6 month period.

As before, all testing will be through Sorenson Genomics
(YSTR tests) and/or Alpha Bio Labs (mtDNA) with which
we have had a relationship for several years.

On a personal note, it will be good to move on from
something that I started back in 2002. It was then a
nascent field, a period of rapid development, and an
exciting time to be pushing forward the understanding
of DNA testing within the public realm. I've always
enjoyed the fact that, through DNA, people are able
to form connections with their kin, wherever in the
world they may be. I also love that the results of the
tests often challenge a person's sense of history and
perception of themselves as they see that they are
linked to a much bigger family tree encompassing
every corner of the globe.

It's been a fascinating journey and I wish you all well.


Alastair Greenshields
DNA Heritage

Questions should be directed here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

In Honor of DNA Day: Why I Won't Give Up On Autosomal DNA Testing for Genealogy

Many genealogists who tested with 23andMe for ancestry purposes have expressed their frustration with the low response rate of Relative Finder. Many of us have also experienced difficulty finding our common ancestors with our predicted cousins who do respond. I have a well-researched, fairly full family tree going back a number of generations on many branches and even I, as a big proponent of this service, have to admit it has been slow going.  However, I will not give up on autosomal testing for genealogy and here is why:

We are all at the forefront of this emerging science. It will take time to sort out its best uses, but I already see glimmers of its potential. Those of us who have been able to test a substantial number of our relatives are already discovering useful information and emerging patterns. In my opinion, focused family studies are the future of autosomal genetic genealogy. I am confident that there will be a time when we will have successful projects for ancestral individuals/couples and are able to identify probable descendants of these people who had no previous knowledge of this part of their ancestry. Trail blazers like Tim Janzen with his Youngman Family study, Wayne Kauffman with his Anabaptist Project, David Faux with his Young Family study and Whit Athey with his phasing project are already showing us what can be accomplished.

Biogeographical ancestry analyses like 23andMe's Ancestry Painting and FTDNA's Population Finder will become more specific and meaningful in the future. The reference population samples will be greatly improved in time, thus allowing all of us to determine what region of the world specific portions of our DNA originated.

I have already had success with discovering unknown Ashkenazi ancestry through my paternal line. I may never know exactly which ancestor is responsible for that stretch of my 7th Chromosome, but I believe that there is a good chance that, eventually, it will become discoverable.

It is true that my overall response rate on Relative Finder is low, but with over 500 predicted relatives in my account and each of the other numerous profiles that I handle, I have more than enough acceptances to happily work with for many, many months. Of these, I have already found the common ancestor with a number of my matches. This will only improve with more people in the database. If I sustain my current acceptance rate of ~20%, as the database grows, I should have a tremendous number of "success stories" to report.

I find it fascinating to have the opportunity to discover which stretches of my DNA are from specific great grandparents. Researching genealogy has always made me feel closer to my ancestors, but there is something very satisfying and meaningful to KNOWING that I have little bits of them inside me.

This is a classic case of choosing to see the glass half-empty or half-full. I can understand how some have already become frustrated with the limited set of tools we currently have for working with this data, but I will not be one of them. As for me, I will wring every drop of meaning out of each and every ancestry DNA tool that is offered to me with appreciation. This is what I have been waiting for ever since I first read about genetic genealogy back in 2002. I hoped it would happen and now it is here. I can be patient a little while longer, but I won't sit back and wait for others to figure it out for me. I want to be among the individuals who help to realize this great potential, discovering what autosomal DNA can tell us about ourselves and our ancestors.

Stay tuned...

Thursday, April 14, 2011

FTDNA's DNA Day Sale starts now!

FTDNA has just posted this to their Facebook page:

"DNA Day is April 15th! Starting at 12:00 PM on April 14th, join the celebration!

New customers:
Y-DNA12…… $59
Y-DNA37…… $129
...mtDNA……… $59
Family Finder… $199
Family Finder + Y-DNA12… $258
Family Finder + mtDNA…… $258
Family Finder + mtFullSequence + Y-DNA67 … $657

Y-DNA12 add-on … $59
Y-DNA12 to 37…… $69
Y-DNA37 to 67…… $79
Y-DNA12 to 67…… $148
mtDNA add-on …… $59
mtFull Sequence upgrade … $199
Family Finder add-on … $199

To take advantage of these promotional prices use the coupon code: DNADAY2011

The coupon code will expire on Friday at midnight (CST).

Please note, the Y-DNA67 to 111 upgrade will remain at the introductory rate of $101 (no coupon necessary) until the end of this promotion. The price will be $129 going forward.

Payment must be received at the time of the order. Valid only on products listed. No substitutions. This promotion was announced in advance, therefore no adjustments will be made on previous purchases. Offer valid from 12:00 PM CST on Thursday, April 14, until 11:59 PM CST on April 15, 2011.

This promotion is not valid in combination with any other promotions. Family Tree DNA reserves the right to cancel any order due to unauthorized or ineligible use of discounts and to modify or cancel these promotional discounts due to system error or unforeseen problems. Subject to change without notice."

To take advantage of this offer go here and use coupon code DNADAY2011. This sale is only going to last for 36 hours, so don't procrastinate.
[Disclosure - My company StudioINTV has an existing production agreement with FTDNA that has no bearing on the opinions I express. I also receive a small commission from FTDNA on non-sale orders through my affiliate link, which I use to fund DNA tests. I receive no other compensation in relation to any of the companies or products referenced in my blog.]

Sunday, April 10, 2011

23andMe Sale on Monday!

23andMe has jumped the gun and is having their expected DNA Day Sale a bit early. The price will be $9 per month for a minimum of 12 months ($108) with no upfront charges. The following email was sent out to select customers:

"Although DNA Day is officially April 15th, we at 23andMe just couldn't wait that long. So we're celebrating a bit early with a big sale!

For a limited time, you can order a 23andMe kit for $0 up front, plus a 12-month commitment to our Personal Genome Service® at $9/month. This is down from the regular price of $199 plus $9/month.

Existing customers on our v2 genotyping platform can also take advantage of this sale to upgrade to the latest v3 platform for the same price by going to your sample has been processed, you'll receive data on nearly 1 million places in your genome, information about your distant ancestry, and access to more than 180 health reports (optional). With the Personal Genome Service®, we'll also help you connect with potential relatives to fill out your family tree and keep you up to date on the latest research linking genetics to your health and traits. Learn more at 

This promotional price will be available from 12:00AM PST until 11:59PM PST on Monday 4/11/11, or while supplies last!  
Best Regards,
The 23andMe Team "