Wednesday, August 31, 2011

FTDNA confirms two NFL players are half-siblings

I received this news release from FTDNA today. It involves a heartwarming story of genetic families coming together thanks to DNA testing. As newsworthy as this tale seems today, I believe that this type of discovery will become almost commonplace in the near future:

Houston, TX – August 31, 2011 - Family Tree DNA, the pioneer and largest DNA testing company for genealogy purposes, through its Family Finder test, provided the conclusive proof that two NFL players are half-siblings.

Until a few months ago, Xavier Omon, from the San Francisco 49ers and Ogemdi Nwagbuo from the San Diego Chargers did not have a clue that they were related. Early August, at the request of ESPN, Family Tree DNA performed the Family Finder test on both, and the result was unequivocal: definitely half-siblings. More of the story can be found at the ESPN website, under the “Brother’s Tale” story.

The Family Finder test allows connecting with family members across all ancestral lines [test performed on Xavier and Ogemdi]. While the Y-DNA matches men with a specific paternal line [this test also performed on the brothers] and the mtDNA finds potential relatives only along the maternal line, Family Finder can look for close relationships along all ancestral lines. Anyone, regardless of their gender, may confidently match to male and female cousins from any of their family lines in the past five generations. The science is based on linked blocks of DNA across the 22 autosomal chromosomes that are matched between two people. Based on this concept, Family Tree DNA bioinformatics team has worked extensively to develop the calculations that would yield the closeness of the relationship.

The possibilities to find matches abound: grandparents, aunts and uncles; half siblings; first, second, third and fourth cousins; and, more tentatively, fifth cousins.

About Family Tree DNA

Founded in April 2000, Family Tree DNA was the first company to develop the commercial application of DNA testing for genealogical purposes, something that had previously been available only for academic and scientific research. Almost a decade later, the Houston-based company has a database with over 345,000 individual records – the largest DNA database in genetic genealogy, and a number that makes Family Tree DNA the prime source for anyone researching recent and distant family ties. In 2006 Family Tree DNA established a state of the art Genomics Research Center at its headquarters in Houston, Texas, where it currently performs R&D and processes over 200 advanced types of DNA tests for its customers.

Media contact

Sharon Weisz, —tel: 323-934-2700; e-mail:

[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, August 21, 2011

Known Relative Studies with 23andMe: Second Cousins or Half Second Cousins? (2nd Cousins, Part Three)

In the first two installments of my second cousin studies, I have focused on my maternal side. This time I am focusing on a second cousin from my paternal side. Our shared ancestors are our great grandparents Willard Moore (1877-1934) and Blanche (Purdy) Moore (1888-1935) from Washington State. I am descended from their first son Fred and this cousin is descended from their second son Jack. I don't have as many family members tested on that side, so I have less comparisons to share, however this study brings up some interesting questions.

Fortunately, I have both of my sisters tested at 23andMe. The amount of shared DNA between us and our paternal cousin (PCousin) are 1.15%, 1.87% and 2.4% (in order of our testing). Since the expected percentage of DNA sharing is 3.125% on average with a second cousin and 1.563% with a half second cousin, I was beginning to wonder if we were really full second cousins, sharing both of our great grandparents. However, as my sisters' results came in the percentages were higher and higher. I think it is very interesting that this second cousin shares twice as much with the third sister tested as the first. The percentages are still a bit lower than expected, so more comparisons are needed to determine the exact relationship.

Notice also our paternal cousin shares on only two small places with all three of us. The other blocks of shared DNA are all randomly distributed.

Click to enlarge chart

Since I have tested both of my father's siblings, I am also able to compare them to this cousin. Their relationship is first cousins once removed with an expected percentage of DNA sharing of 6.25% on average. When my uncle's results came in, the match was only 3.33%, again consistent with a half cousin relationship. Then, against the trend, my aunt's results showed sharing of 6.68%, slightly over the expected percentage for a full first cousin once removed relationship and double that of her brother. This was a bit of a relief, but still does leave some question in my mind about whether, in reality, we share both of our great grandparents or only one. I am attempting to get a male Moore cousin descended from my grandfather's brother to test to make sure that he shares my father's and uncle's unusual Y-DNA haplogroup of I2b1.

To more clearly demonstrate the randomness of autosomal DNA inheritance, I compared this paternal cousin to each of the second cousins and their offspring. The second cousins once removed are expected to share 1.563% of their DNA on average, but, in reality, they share 1.26%, .92% and .33%. When you see this, you can begin to understand why at the next step, the third cousin level,  approximately ten percent of the time there is not enough shared DNA to detect a familial relationship.

Look at the chart comparing Second Cousin #1 and her offspring to PCousin. Do you see something that doesn't make sense?

The surprising thing is that the offspring (2nd cousin1xR #1) of the sister (2nd cousin #1) who shared the least with our paternal cousin, shared the most DNA of the three second cousins once removed. In fact, she shares more than her mother does (95 cMs vs 86 cMs) and appears to share an additional segment on Chromosome 22 with our paternal cousin that her mother does not share. Since there is definitely not any shared ancestry on 2nd cousin 1xR #1's father's side with this cousin and I cannot compare my deceased father to see if the match shows up in him, I looked at the both of her aunts to try to determine if they also shared this segment with PCousin and for some reason it just isn't showing up. 

Comparing Second Cousin1xR #1 with her aunt (Sister #2)

Sure enough, there it is on Sister #2's chart. This shows that for some unknown reason, the match did not show up in Sister #1's chart, but it must be there. Perhaps a no-call is breaking the segment into two, thus making it appear to be too small to be of significance.

[**Update - Dr. Ann Turner emailed me about this scenario writing, " are treated as if they match, so that's not an explanation. It could be a miscall or a 'fuzzy boundary,' where the child has inherited enough alleles from the other parent to make it appear that the long consecutive run of SNPs is continuing."  She asked if I have access to the raw data for this cousin (which I do not) and further suggested, "If so, you could run David Pike's utility with more liberal parameters." This explanation had occurred to me, but the fact that the match was over 10cMs and appeared in both individuals of different generations led me to believe that was not a possibility. I will update if I learn anything further.]

Regardless, it is exciting to know that these shared segments come from one or both of our shared great grandparents. This realization certainly makes me feel closer to my ancestors that I have invested so much time trying to get to know through my family history research.

Willard and Blanche Moore - It's their DNA! 

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Family Tree DNA's 7th Genetic Genealogy Conference for Project Administrators

The 7th Genetic Genealogy Conference for Family Tree DNA Group Administrators November 5-6, 2011
To be held at the Sheraton North Houston
15700 John F. Kennedy Boulevard
Houston, TX 77032
(281) 442-5100
Book a Room at the Sheraton North Houston at a Discount ($87/night)
*The Sheraton website has a known issue with the Chrome browser. To visit their site please try another browser.

Featured Speakers
  • Doron Behar, PhD
  • Michael Hammer, PhD
  • Steve Morse, author of the website "One Step Pages"
  • Spencer Wells, PhD
(Wow, look at those speakers!)

Registration is open now. Admins should log into their GAP 2.0 page and click on the banner announcement.  On the announcement page, under the hotel information and above the "Conference Schedule" there is a clickable "Registration" box.

[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.]

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Genetic Genealogy News from FinnFest

I attended several interesting genetic genealogy presentations at FinnFest yesterday. Some of the information was brand new to me and may be to you too.

Jane Buck from FTDNA treated us to an entertaining lecture that included a few interesting tidbits:

1, FTDNA currently uses 62 subpopulation reference samples for Population Finder. Every time they update Population Finder with a new reference sample, they will rerun every customer's results.
2. FTDNA removes SNPs that have medical relevance from Family Finder raw data, but they do utilize them for matching purposes.
3. Customers of National Geographic who transfer their results to FTDNA receive a reduced rate on upgrades for 15 days following the transfer. (The transfer is free.)
4. As of August 12th, FTDNA has 343,022 unique DNA records, 102,880 distinct surnames and ~6,500 surname projects.
5. FTDNA will be partnering with Elise Friedman's Relative Roots to offer genetic genealogy webinars.

Project Administrator Lauri Koskinen shared the findings from the Finland DNA Project:

1. There are 2,494 Finns in the project, making it the third largest geographical project at FTDNA. (The Polish Project is gaining fast, currently at 2,320!)
2. There are 250 Finns in the Family Finder database.
3. In the Finland DNA Project, Y-DNA results are as follows:
Haplogroup N = ~60%, male lines migrated from the East to Finland
Haplogroup I1 = ~30%, male lines migrated from the West to Finland
Haplogroup R1a = ~3%, male lines migrated from Slavic areas to Finland (common in Germany and Sweden)
Haplogroup R1b = ~3%, male lines migrated from Middle and Southern Europe to Finland
Haplogroups E, J, Q = ~3%, male lines migrated from the Middle East and Asia to Finland
It is interesting to note that Hungary does not have a significant number of males with Y-Haplogroup N, therefore the majority of Finnish Y-DNA lines did not come from that area even though the Finnish language shares an origin with the Hungarian language. (Hungary has mainly Slavic Y-DNA.)

4. In the Finland DNA Project, mtDNA results are as follows:
Haplogroup H = ~40%, female lines from European source
Haplogroup U = ~30%, female lines, including the Saami type (U5b1)
Haplogroups D, I, J, HV, R, T, V, W, X, Z = less than 10%
Worldwide Haplogroup X = 1.4%, Worldwide Haplogroup W = 1.6%. In Finland these run 3%-5% in some areas. The only other known hot spot for Haplgroup W is the Himalayas.
Lauri interprets the breakdown of the mtDNA haplogroups above to mean that most of the men who migrated from the east to the area that is now Finland did not bring wives with them, but rather married European women and Saami women enroute and/or when they arrived.
5. Currently 40%-50% of all members of the Finland DNA Project with Full Sequence mtDNA results have found matches.

I will try to post the slides from my panel presentation "The Unique Finnish DNA" tomorrow.

[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.]

Saturday, August 6, 2011

FTDNA Now Accepting Y-DNA Third Party Results

Yesterday, Family Tree DNA announced the launch of a new feature: Y-DNA Third Party uploads.

This will allow for the upload of 33 and 46-marker Y-DNA test results from Ancestry.comGeneTree and Sorenson's SMGF.  FTDNA explains in their August 5th press release, "This comes as a natural development since the necessary tools were created to import the customer database it recently acquired from DNA Heritage after that company ceased its operations." Since DNA testing for, Genetree and SMGF all use the same lab that DNA Heritage did, it is logical to include these other companies in this long-wished-for new service.

This is great news for Y-DNA Surname Projects administrators and their participants and should help us all to further our research goals and break down those genealogical brickwalls!

More information from the press release:

Family Tree DNA will be charging a nominal fee of $19 to import third party results into its database. This $19 fee will be credited to customers who later order upgrades or add-ons. For an additional $39, customers who transfer their third party results will also have additional markers tested so that they can receive matches to Family Tree DNA's 25 or 37-marker level, ancestral origins, and other features of the personal page.

The $19 fee will provide the customer with a Family Tree DNA personal page which will allow them to join Family Tree DNA projects. This means that results will be available to the administrator and included on the project's public page for comparison with other project members.

The $58 fee ($19 transfer fee + $39 for the added markers to Family Tree DNA's 25 or 37-marker level) will include the same features provided to Family Tree DNA customers in their personal pages, including matches and Haplogroup prediction.

From FTDNA's FAQs:

Transfer options are:
Transfer Y-DNA33
Transfer Y-DNA46
Transfer Y-DNA33 + Y-DNA25*
Transfer Y-DNA46 + Y-DNA37*
* If you upgrade after ordering a basic transfer, the cost will be $49 US.

For any additional questions, please refer to FTDNA’s FAQs.
To order your transfer, please go here.

[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.]

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

23andMe Friends and Family Coupon - XNFYRG


Friends and Family Coupon

Get your friends and family on board with this $50 coupon. 
Share it with as many people as you like, but remember 
that this coupon expires in 7 days (August 9, 2011).

Have fun!

The 23andMe Team

To use this coupon, visit our online store and add an order 
to your cart. Click "I have a discount code" and enter the 
code below. (That's $49 upfront + $9/month for a minimum of 
12 months or $157 for a prepaid one year subscription)

$50 Off
Coupon code: XNFYRG
Share with your friends!
(Valid for new customers only)