Thursday, March 27, 2014

Family Tree DNA Announces the March mtDNA Madness Sale - The Benefits of Full Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing

mtDNA tests are exclusively informative of direct maternal lines (image credit:

I just received an email from Family Tree DNA announcing a sale on their mtDNA Full Sequence test, starting tomorrow (copied below). This is their lowest price ever and, fortunately, includes upgrades. 

Although mitochondrial DNA is not the first test that I would recommend for a genealogist, in my recent work I have become increasingly interested in full sequence mtDNA testing. The reason for this is that, in some instances, the full sequence allows for geographic specificity, which can potentially open new and valuable avenues of discovery. The lower resolution tests are not often helpful, so if you are going to order a mtDNA test, then the full sequence is the way to go. (With this very reduced price, this is a good time to try it.)

I can't share most of the instances (yet) that it has been useful for my recent research since some were in the course of my work for "Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates, Jr." (scheduled to air Tuesdays starting at the end of September) and others were for private projects, but I can give an example of a situation where mtDNA testing might be helpful for our genealogy research outside of the typically discussed applications. 

I have long been brickwalled on my German Stolebarger line and do not know if Sarah (maiden name unknown), the wife of John Stolebarger, was German like her husband. Since my mother's first cousin is a matrilineal descendant of Sarah's, I asked him to take the mtDNA test for me two years ago (HVR1 + HVR2). The only match was with someone who is brickwalled at his ancestor, also named Sarah from the exact same time and place as my Sarah! So, matching didn't help us. I didn't plan to upgrade for matching purposes since there were no other matches and he only tested at the lower resolution. 

Recently the mtDNA Haplogroup I Project administrator wrote to me and expressed interest in my cousin's rare mtDNA signature, requesting that I consider upgrading to the full sequence. That got me thinking and, with the great timing of this new offer, I now plan to go ahead and upgrade to see if my cousin's unique mutations can  pinpoint a specific geographic region. This may, at least, help to determine if Sarah was German or of completely different ancestral origins. Is it guaranteed to work? No, but I'm ready for the "Hail Mary" play on this one and, anyway, aren't we all accustomed to trying different approaches to our research challenges?

If you have a research question that you think mtDNA testing might help answer* or you are just a DNA testing junkie like me, you can order here. (Prices, starting tomorrow, are listed below.)

Best of luck with all your DNA testing pursuits!

(*If you need help determining if this test is applicable to your research question, you can read about mtDNA basics here.) 

Dear Project Administrator,

We will send all customers a sale announcement tomorrow when our March mtDNA Madness sale begins. However, we wanted to give you advanced notice so that you have time to plan.

For four days only we are offering our customers the chance to order or upgrade to the mtDNA full sequence at greatly reduced prices. To take advantage of the outstanding prices below, your project members need to place their orders and pay before 11:59 PM Central Time April 1, 2014.


  • mtDNAFullSequence Add-on and New Kits - Was $199 US Now $139 US
  • mtHVR1toMEGA Upgrade - Was $149 US Now $99 US
  • mtHVR2toMEGA Upgrade - Was $159 US Now $89 US

 Why Get the mtDNA Full Sequence?
  • Unlock the full potential of mtDNA testing.
  • Enjoy the definitive test for your direct maternal line.
  • Compare to others at the highest mtDNA testing level.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Dr. Jim Wilson and ScotlandsDNA Release Y-SNP Positions for Chromo2

In a move that I know will make our community of citizen scientists and Y-SNP researchers very happy, Dr. Jim Wilson sent me an email with a file containing the ScotlandsDNA/BritainsDNA Chromo2 Y-SNP positions and this announcement today:

ScotlandsDNA are happy to share the chromosome positions for the Y chromosome SNPs on the chromo2 chip. We hope these catalyse a step change in the development of the Y chromosome tree. Wherever we have looked the structure has increased greatly in resolution, but we simply do not have time to analyse all the data and so are sharing this file with the community to allow everyone to take part. These are the first fruits of whole Y chromosome sequencing, taken out into a much larger population - the beginning of understanding what all the new markers mean.

The file can be found here

Thanks again, Jim!