Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Family Tree DNA now accepting 23andMe raw data uploads

The time has finally come for all of you who have been waiting. Family Tree DNA is now accepting raw data uploads from 23andMe. If you are already a customer of FTDNA, sign into your account from the home page and order from there to avoid creating a duplicate account.  If not, go to the product listing and scroll down to "Transfer Relative Finder" and order from there. They are offering an introductory price of only $50 to 23andMe customers with v3 results for both new and existing FTDNA customers. A discount will be offered to 23andMe customers on the v2 chip via a coupon code after an upload verification of the raw data file.

Transfer options are:
Option Price Project MembershipMatching
FTDNA Kit Import (V2) $50+$109 = $159 Yes Retest
FTDNA Kit Import (V3) $50 Yes Database Import
New Customer Transfer (V2) $50+$109 = $159 Yes Retest
New Customer Transfer (V3) $50 Yes Database Import

Results will be available in only one to two weeks after the v3 transfer is completed. For the discounted retest applicable to those with v2 files, the results will be available from two to five weeks after the sample is received.

This offer is applicable to all who have tested on the Illumina OmniExpress Plus Genotyping BeadChip that both FTDNA and 23andMe currently use for their autosomal tests. At this time, there are no other tests from additional companies that would fall under this description, such as deCodeMe.

The transfer customers will receive a standard FTDNA personal page and will be matched with already existing Family Finder customers. They will receive email notifications when new matches are loaded into their account. This offer also includes a biogeographical ancestry analysis.

From FTDNA's product description:

Results file with less than 700,000 SNPs (i.e. 23andMe's V2):
  • Is NOT compatible with our Family Finder product. In order to verify the compatibility, you will have to upload your file into our system. Please read our refund policy here, before you proceed and find your record incompatible. (Note from YGG- Files found to be incompatible because they are v2 files, will be refunded $40 of the $50 fee. This is easily avoidable by checking to make sure you know which version you were tested on at 23andMe before uploading.) 
  • Includes a one-time use coupon code to purchase our Family Finder product for an additional $109 plus shipping.
Results file with more than 900,000 SNPs (i.e. 23andMe's V3):
  • Is compatible with our Family Finder product.
  • Includes matches related within about the last 5 generations and predicted relationship ranges.
  • Provides percentages of your ancestral make-up (Native-American, Middle Eastern (including Jewish), African, West and East European).
  • Recommended for genealogists.
  • Great for confirming close relationships regardless of gender.
  • Please note, uploaded files are batch processed once a week. You will be notified by e-mail when your file has been processed.
IMPORTANT: Your results from Family Tree DNA compared to another company's results will be similar, however, they WILL NOT be exact. Due to Family Tree DNA's proprietary algorithm your matches, centimorgan totals, and centimorgan length will vary. 

This is great news for the genetic genealogy community and especially for adoptees! Under this fantastic offer, I strongly encourage all to be in both databases.

Order here. 
*Update - Remember to unzip your file and upload it as a .txt file not a .zip file!


[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 am currently serving in a volunteer advisory position for 23andMe, for which I may receive a small number of 23andMe kits for my DNA research.  Any opinions that I express here on my blog are my own and do not reflect those of management at either company.  I receive no other compensation in relation to any of the companies or products referenced in my blog.]

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Update on the New Autosomal DNA Test from Ancestry.com

Many of you have been asking if I there are any updates in regard to Ancestry.com's new autosomal DNA test. I don't have much new information yet, but just a couple of tidbits to share:

1. Just before Christmas I received a kit from AncestryDNA with an envelope to expedite the sample back to the lab. It contained three swabs intended for collecting samples from inside the cheek and lips. The expedite request gave me the impression that they are getting close to releasing the first results.

2. Today I received a call from Ancestry.com in regard to the new DNA test. I was told that as soon as the interface is fully functional, results will begin to be released. They will not wait until they have all ~10,000 free kits processed to allow access to results, contrary to my earlier speculation.

3. Ancestry.com will not have a beta-testing period with the ~10,000 free kits before offering the test for sale to the public. I was told that the kits will be offered for sale as soon as the results start rolling in.

4. The folks at AncestryDNA are working "around the clock" to get the service ready to roll-out, more reason to suspect the first wave of results will be available very soon.

5. A contact from Illumina told me that they are not the provider of the genotyping chip in use by Ancestry.com. I was surprised since Ancestry.com has announced that (like the Illumina OmniExpress Plus Genotyping Beadchip) their test will cover 700,000 "markers". I have not received any information as to what chip they might be using from Ancestry.com. [Update - The information provided to me may have been in error and I now believe that my initial thoughts on this were correct and that Ancestry.com is using an Illumina chip.]

I am looking forward to seeing the results! Ancestry.com has made a substantial investment to enter the autosomal DNA testing market and has great potential due to the ability to attach DNA results to the already existing family trees on their site. As a result, I am optimistic that this test will be a positive addition to the current options for genetic genealogists. I will post a review of the service as soon as possible.

*Update - Check out this clip at 1:02. You can see what appears to be the Ancestry.com interface. Thanks Shannon for pointing this out!

Related posts: 
Ancestry.com Venturing into Autosomal DNA Testing?
More Details on Ancestry.com's New Autosomal DNA Test Offering
Ancestry.com's Autosomal DNA Product - An Update  by "The Genetic Genealogist" Blaine Bettinger

Ancestry.com DNA testing - Get the first look here.

Monday, January 23, 2012

"Your Genetic Genealogist" Appointed to Lead 23andMe's Ancestry Ambassador Group

As some of you may have already heard, I was chosen to lead the new Ancestry Ambassador Group at 23andMe. You can read the full announcement on the Spittoon here. I am delighted to have this opportunity to work closely with 23andMe and the outstanding panel members: Dr. Ann Turner, Larry Vick, Dr. Tim Janzen, Andrea Badger and Shannon Christmas, to further the interests of the genetic genealogy community and to promote autosomal DNA testing for genealogy. In our extensive discussions, both Anne Wojcicki and Mike Macpherson have already proven to be very interested in and committed to improving 23andMe's ancestry product and demonstrating to the genealogy community that they value our business. I am very excited about the future of the genealogy customer and ancestry related products at 23andMe.

I do want to assure my readers that I will continue to function as an objective reporter of genetic genealogy related news and a supporter of all companies who serve our community well. I accepted this volunteer position as a means of promoting genetic genealogy and assuring that genealogists' interests are in the forefront of 23andMe's priorities, however this appointment does not mean that I will cease to support other deserving companies in the DNA testing world. Specifically, I am and will continue to be a big fan and supporter of Family Tree DNA. I believe in encouraging people to test, regardless of which company they are using as long as that company delivers a valuable product. I believe in the greater good of promoting this industry, educating and influencing the consumer to participate. This is where I direct my efforts and my passion. I will continue to criticize and praise whenever I feel it is called for, but will always offer solutions when I can in an effort to minimize public backlash that can only hinder the furtherance of our avocation. I invite all of you to do the same.

Since this new position is intended to represent you, my readers and the genetic genealogy community, I would like to receive feedback on what you would like to see at 23andMe in 2012. What improvements, changes, additions would make you a happier customer, a happier genetic genealogist? I have already started a thread in this regard in the 23andMe community forum, but since not everyone participates there, I would welcome comments and ideas here as well. You can also email me privately at the address listed here on my blog. I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Thanks for your readership and participation.

[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 am currently serving in a volunteer advisory position for 23andMe, for which I may receive a small number of 23andMe kits for my DNA research.  Any opinions that I express here on my blog are my own and do not reflect those of management at either company.  I receive no other compensation in relation to any of the companies or products referenced in my blog.]

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Using Public Y-DNA Profiles to Track Down Criminals: Would You?

For the last couple of days, the genetic genealogy world has been inflamed by the news that a 20-year-old Washington murder case has being re-examined in light of a Y-DNA analysis performed by the forensic genealogist, Colleen Fitzpatrick. Many surname DNA project administrators are, understandably, extremely concerned about the implications and repercussions of this national story on DNA testing for genealogy. I hesitated to write about it because it has stirred such strong feelings in our community, but finally realized that is exactly why I must write about it. Many would prefer to sweep it under the rug because of the damage it could do to our avocation, but as the story has been picked up by national news outlets, I have reached the conclusion that this is no longer realistic. As a result, I will add my voice to the discussion.

Apparently, Fitzpatrick utilized the public Y-DNA databases such as Y-search and, possibly, public surname DNA projects in an attempt to determine the potential surname of the murderer of 16-year old cheerleader, Sarah Yarborough of Federal Way. Blaine Bettinger of "The Genetic Genealogist" gives a good overview in his post, so I won't rehash the details here, except to say that I share the concerns of many in the community that in the sensationalism, the probability of the killer bearing this particular surname has been overestimated. I also worry along with my colleagues that these types of stories could discourage some people from participating in DNA testing for genealogical or other non-essential purposes. While I think these are important considerations, we may be focusing on the wrong things.

Bettinger emphasizes that this is, in reality, not a new technique. Along those lines, I'd like to share a comment that I wrote to the ISOGG mailing list for project administrators in October of last year when a BBC article on the FBI's potential use of familial DNA, including Y-DNA, was introduced and discussed. When another member wondered where law enforcement might get its matches, I responded, "Our surname projects." Met with skepticism, I explained:

Because many FTDNA surname projects are the best and most thorough source of Y-DNA research for many surnames. I wouldn't think they would use individual results, rather the surname research as a whole to compare Y-DNA samples against. For instance, "Anonymous Sample X matches Group Two of the well-researched XXYZX Surname DNA Project."  Hmmm...maybe we should be looking at male XXYZXs in the area?
Yes, because of the absence of chain-of-custody maybe they couldn't use these databases for proof in court, but they could certainly use them to get leads. If you are saying that these projects are meaningless because people may use aliases when they test, then all of our combined surname research has been pointless.
What other options are there if they [law enforcement] are now interested in Y-DNA, assuming in the past they have routinely only tested CODIS markers? For them to retest all of the existing samples for Y-DNA and create surname matching databases? That seems like a very time and money intensive proposition. I know that presented with an alleged criminal's anonymous Y-DNA profile most of us here could, in some cases, pinpoint the likely surname without much difficulty using our public resources - Y-search and public surname projects. What would stop the FBI from doing the same? How do we know that they don't already?
I've been thinking about this for awhile. If one of my loved ones was murdered and I had access to that DNA sample, you better believe that I would be using our databases to try to figure out who was guilty. Wouldn't you? 

Am I wrong?

No one wanted to discuss the subject then. 

I'm not claiming to be clairvoyant, in fact, this was bound to happen sooner or later. If it was an obvious possibility to me, someone who has no experience in law enforcement and doesn't even watch CSI, it had to be abundantly clear to those in a position to be able to do something about it. The Yarborough case may be the first time these tools have publicly been used for this purpose, but we would be naive to think it is truly the first time these methods have come into play in the process of an investigation of this kind.

Fortunately, I believe that we still have a leg to stand on when we tell our potential project members that law enforcement cannot use their DNA, tested by genetic genealogy companies, against them. As I also wrote that day on the mailing list:

I also strongly believe that YOUR (as in a single testee's) sample cannot be used against YOU because of the chain of custody issue...I just believe that our PUBLIC databases (not FTDNA's private database) are a resource in which GROUPS of samples combined with our research can be used against criminals and I am all for that!

I am aware of the ethical arguments for and against this practice, but, in my opinion, what it comes down to is this: If one of your loved ones was murdered and you believed that you could identify the guilty party using the same resources that we use for our hobby...wouldn't you?

Related Stories around the blogosphere (for more excellent analysis of these issues, please also read the comment section below):

 "Does DNA Link 1991 Killing to Colonial Era Family? by Blaine Bettinger of The Genetic Genealogist

"Unexpected Use of DNA" by Debbie Parker Wayne of Deb's Delvings in Genealogy

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Generational Surnames and Autosomal DNA Matching by Roberta Estes

Please welcome my guest blogger today, Roberta Estes, owner of DNA Explain. Roberta was one of the early DNA surname administrators and pioneer adopters of DNA analysis for genealogy, now managing over 20 surname projects including the large regional Cumberland Gap Y-line and mtDNA projects with over 1000 participants each. The Cumberland Gap mitochondrial DNA project is the largest mitochondrial DNA project worldwide. Roberta founded the Lost Colony Genealogy and DNA Research group in 2007 which includes the Lost Colony DNA projects. Additionally, Roberta is the Midwest Regional Coordinator for ISOGG.  She has been a genealogist since 1978.

I share Roberta's interest in assisting adoptees to discover their roots and am happy to present the conclusions from her recent survey of both 23andMe's Relative Finder and FTDNA's Family Finder customers, written by Roberta herself:

My interest in this topic is due to the number of adoptees I work with. DNA testing for genetic genealogy often represents the best, if not the only hope to adoptees of finding their genetic families.
I'm working with a woman who has two possible surnames to work with. Both are possibilities and the answer could be that neither of these surname is the right one. However, I've managed to put together some genealogy on both lines and I wanted to know how often people are finding matches in the genealogy data bases at Family Tree DNA and at 23andMe for their surnames represented by their parents, their grandparents, and their great-grandparents. For this exercise, I don't care how many matches to each surname they have, only IF they have any match to that surname.
For example, if your parents surnames are Smith and Jones, for example, and you have any matches that include the surnames Smith or Jones in their surnames listed as their ancestors, the answer is yes. If both Smith and Jones have matches, then you have 2 for 2 in the first generation.
The second generation, grandparents, includes 4 surnames, the 2 represented by your parents plus two more, your mother's mother's surname (Anderson) and your father's mother's surname (Ferverda), for a total of 4. If Smith and Jones are already represented, then we need to determine if Anderson and Ferverda have matches. Let's say neither do, so for this generation, you have 2 of 4 possible.
For the great-grandparents generation, we add 4 more ancestors, for a total of 8. Let's say that those surnames are Moore, Brown, Quincy and Scott and let's say that only Scott shows up in the list of surnames of your matches. So for this generation you have 3 of 8, your two parents, plus Scott.
The real question here is what is the likelihood that someone who is adopted will find their biological surnames in the surnames listed by their matches.
An ad hoc survey on both the ISOGG and the DNA-Genealogy lists in January 2012 received results for a total of 57 people who had been tested. A couple of people provided only partial information for a variety of reasons, so the totals in each group are slightly different.
Of the group who replied, for the first generation, their parents, the following was found:
* 20 people had no matches to their parents surnames
* 21 people had one match to their parents surnames
* 14 people had matches to both of their parents surnames
What this means to adoptees is there is a 38% likelihood that none or one of your parents surnames are represented in your matches. There is a 25% likelihood that both of your parents
surnames are listed. Overall, there is a 64% likelihood that you will find at least one of your parents surnames listed in your matches. Of course, the question remains, which surnames are which.
Moving to the second, grandparents, generation we find the following.
* 16 people had zero matches to any of their 4 grandparents surnames
* 14 people had 1 match to their 4 grandparents surnames
* 11 people had 2 matches to their 4 grandparents surnames
* 7 people had 3 matches to their 4 grandparents surnames
* 6 people had matches to all 4 of their grandparents surnames
This means that there is a 30% chance that none of your parents or grandparents surnames are found among your matches. However, there is also a 70% chance that at least one of your grandparents surnames will be found among your matches. There is only a small chance, 7%, that all 4 of your grandparents surnames will be found among your matches.
Moving to the third generation, great-grandparents, we find the following:
* 11 people had zero matches to any of their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 9 people had 1 match to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 6 people had 2 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 12 people had 3 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 7 people had 4 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 4 people had 5 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 2 people had 6 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 4 people had 7 matches to their 8 great-grandparents surnames
* 1 person had matches to all 8 of their great-grandparents surnames
There is a 20% likelihood that none of your parents, grandparents or great-grandparents surnames will be found among your matches. However, there is also an 80% likelihood that at least one of those 8 surnames will be found among your matches.
The results of the 3 generation, 8 surname survey, when plotted, take the shape of the traditional bell shaped curve, with a lump that would likely smooth out with more samples. Twenty one percent of the people will find 3 of their 8 grandparents surnames among their matches.
Most people told me where they tested, or I could easily discern the information due to the test
name. Many of them also included their total number of matches. The total of matches at 23andMe was, as a rule, was between 4 and 5 times the number of matches at Family Tree DNA. However, the commentary was pretty uniformly that people were disappointed with the contacts, or lack thereof, at 23andMe, in general, and when contact was made, that many had either no interest in or little information on their genealogy, rendering the contact useless or nearly so. One person wondered why someone would test at Family Tree DNA if they weren't interested in genealogy, so the response problem is not unique to 23andMe clients.
Of the people who responded to the survey, 13 of them had tested at both 23andMe and Family Tree DNA. Those results are included separately. Of these at the 8 surname level, there were a total of 21 matches at Family Tree DNA and 34 matches at 23andMe, so testers are obtaining more surname matches at 23andMe, but only about one third more, not in proportion to the 400% to 500% more matches than at Family Tree DNA. This is likely a direct reflection of the number of people at 23andMe that are interested in the health information and not in the genealogical aspect. However, one would think that if they went to the trouble to enter their surnames, they would have some interest in family history.
Interesting aspects were that maybe half of the people had some complicating factor, such as a highly endogamous population or a patronymic population, both of which clearly affect the potential of finding matching surnames. Equally as interesting was the one man who had no matches for any of his 8 grandparents surnames but had relatively "vanilla" colonial American surnames.
As both data bases increase in size, I would expect the numbers and percentages of matches to rise as well. The message here is that today, in January of 2012, for adoptees, there is about a 38% chance that one of your parents surnames is found among your matches, a 64% chance that one or both of your parents surnames will be found, a 70% chance that one or more of your grandparents surnames will be found and 80% chance that one or more of your great-grandparents surnames will be found.
- Roberta Estes copyright 2012