Friday, January 28, 2011

The DNA results are in: health, haplogroups and public vs private

About six weeks ago I provided a saliva sample to DNA testing company 23andMe after purchasing a kit on sale. Along with many others, my results have now come in.

Health and haplogroups
Carole Riley has blogged about her haplogroup and health results here. I won't cover that ground again in full. In short: my maternal haplogroup is U2e which is fairly uncommon but not unknown in people of European background. There were no surprises in my health results (phew!) except for the trait "Likely sprinter" and having half the average risk for breast cancer. That was a pleasant surprise, given my family history, but not a result I'll be counting on too heavily.

Relative Finder and Public vs Private
I had 325 matches when I first looked, but as more kits were processed the number increased through the day to 337. My closest predicted match was at the fourth cousin level. I had 28 predicted fourth cousins. Most of the rest were predicted fifth cousins but often with a range of 4th to 10th cousins. There were more matches that I expected, but it would have been nice to see a few third cousins in amongst the results!

Linda McCauley has posted some comments about the Relative Finder here. Following on from Linda has said, I have found it a little confusing to know where and how the different public/private setting are applied but like her I have come to the conclusion that I will make my profile public, and make sure that it is public also in Relative Finder and Ancestry Finder.

There are separate tick boxes for the Relative and Ancestry Finders, so make sure you've checked them. It seems to be different to making your profile searchable. The importance of this setting for genealogists is that you are limited to 5 invitations to Relative Fnder matches per day. However, public matches can be contacted without using up a daily invitation hence making it clear that you are interested in contact and making it easier for others to contact you.

I've seen arguments on discussion boards within the site for keeping your profile private (so people won't just skim your surnames and leave if they think there's no match, or take all your information without sharing) but for now I am trying it out with a public profile.

In my next post I will talk about the Ancestry Finder. This is where it gets interesting!

8 comments:

  1. Fascinating stuff. I will follow your DNA posts with interest.

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  2. Hmmm. I'm not getting my hopes up about finding relatives this way. 23andMe seems more about the health thing than the genealogy thing. I really must get back there and post about the stuff that wasn't ready when I first got the initial results!

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  3. Shelley, I can't find the separate tick boxes for the Relative and Ancestry Finders. When I go to profile, it just has options to check various items (like my name, surnames, ancestry, etc.). Can you tell me how to get to the ones specific to Relative & Ancestry Finders? Thanks.

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  4. The goal of family-history research is to obtain data about your direct ancestors (in a child-to-parents line) and your ancestral relatives (cousins of your direct ancestors). When I say "data", I mean traditional facts such as names, events (births, marriages, deaths), dates, places, activities, etc. Can your DNA play a role in this basic kind of family-history research? I believe that the answer is yes, but it's a tiny yes, in an extremely narrow domain of research, with chance playing a big role. DNA testing will help you if (and only if) it succeeds in putting you in contact with other family-history researchers concerned with the same families as yourself, so that you can pool your research results. The only chance of winning this kind of genealogical jackpot consists of making public your Y-chromosome STR-marker values (those of your brothers or your father in the case of female researchers) and hoping that you might, one day, find closely-matching values in a public database, and succeed in obtaining traditional documentary information from the individuals who submitted the matching markers. Other deductions from DNA testing (such as your haplogroup, say, or whether you're descended from such-and-such a "daughter of Eve") are perfectly genuine and interesting, but they lie outside the field of traditional family-history research, and won't help you one iota.

    A major obstacle in the use of DNA testing in family-history research is the fact that, up until now, relatively few people have had their DNA tested and published. Periodically, I stick my nose into the Family Tree DNA results and the ySearch database in the hope of finding marker values from somebody whose surname is Skivington, Skevington, Skeffington, etc. But in vain. Another "jackpot" that intrigues me, on my maternal side, is the solidly-entrenched legend according to which our ancestor Charles Walker was a brother of the Johnnie Walker who invented whisky. When I attempt to persuade one of my numerous male Walker relatives in Australia to get DNA-tested, it's as if I were asking him to drop in at the local police station and ask the cops whether he might happen to be on a wanted list. Others seem to imagine that, in having their DNA tested, they might suddenly be made aware that they're due to die shortly of an ugly inherited disease, or some horrible thing like that. For the family-history researcher, using DNA testing remains, for the moment, an uphill battle.

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  5. Linda,

    If I understand things correctly:

    "Account", "My profile" - the tick box next to your name will make your name and email address searchable.

    But to be 'public' in the Relative Finder and Ancestry Finder you also have to go to:
    "Account", "Settings", "Privacy/Consent" and mark the bottom tick box.

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  6. William,

    I'm looking at the DNA testing as an experiment and an experience. With the autosomal testing there seems to be no shortage of cousins out there, some of whom are even interested in genealogy. The trick is to determine where that connection is. I'd love to improve my changes with some Y DNA testing but am not at all sure I'll be able to talk an appropriate male relative into it. So, for now, the purpose of this DNA testing is to satisfy my curiosity, and any connection I make is a bonus.

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  7. Thanks Shelley. I did find that and get it fixed. I would have missed it if you hadn't mentioned it.

    ReplyDelete
  8. The goal of family-history research is to obtain data about your direct ancestors (in a child-to-parents line) and your ancestral relatives (cousins of your direct ancestors). When I say "data", I mean traditional facts such as names, events (births, marriages, deaths), dates, places, activities, etc. Can your DNA play a role in this basic kind of family-history research? I believe that the answer is yes, but it's a tiny yes, in an extremely narrow domain of research, with chance playing a big role. DNA testing will help you if (and only if) it succeeds in putting you in contact with other family-history researchers concerned with the same families as yourself, so that you can pool your research results. The only chance of winning this kind of genealogical jackpot consists of making public your Y-chromosome STR-marker values (those of your brothers or your father in the case of female researchers) and hoping that you might, one day, find closely-matching values in a public database, and succeed in obtaining traditional documentary information from the individuals who submitted the matching markers. Other deductions from DNA testing (such as your haplogroup, say, or whether you're descended from such-and-such a "daughter of Eve") are perfectly genuine and interesting, but they lie outside the field of traditional family-history research, and won't help you one iota.

    A major obstacle in the use of DNA testing in family-history research is the fact that, up until now, relatively few people have had their DNA tested and published. Periodically, I stick my nose into the Family Tree DNA results and the ySearch database in the hope of finding marker values from somebody whose surname is Skivington, Skevington, Skeffington, etc. But in vain. Another "jackpot" that intrigues me, on my maternal side, is the solidly-entrenched legend according to which our ancestor Charles Walker was a brother of the Johnnie Walker who invented whisky. When I attempt to persuade one of my numerous male Walker relatives in Australia to get DNA-tested, it's as if I were asking him to drop in at the local police station and ask the cops whether he might happen to be on a wanted list. Others seem to imagine that, in having their DNA tested, they might suddenly be made aware that they're due to die shortly of an ugly inherited disease, or some horrible thing like that. For the family-history researcher, using DNA testing remains, for the moment, an uphill battle.

    ReplyDelete