Geno 2.0 – Q&A with Bennett Greenspan

Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, was gracious enough to call me with the answers to several questions and responses to comments and speculation on blogs and lists today. He wants to thank everyone for their interest and personal support for the ongoing research and the new product.  I am putting these in a question and answer format.

Q:  Can I purchase the Geno 2.0 kit elsewhere?

A:  The Geno 2.0 product can only be purchased through the National Geographic Society.  This product cannot be ordered from Family Tree DNA.

Q:  Will there be a way to move my Geno 2.0 results to the Family Tree DNA database?

A: As with the original National Geographic product, we plan to have a link on the Geno 2.0 personal page to allow people to upload their results.  With the Geno 2.0 deep SNP results, they will be able to enter their Family Tree DNA account number, if they have an existing account at Family Tree DNA, and their deep SNP results will be included with their other tests results on their personal page.

Q:  Does Family Tree DNA plan to offer a test that will be more extensive then the new Genographic test for the Y chromosome?

A:  No. The most extensive test for obtaining YDNA SNP data is available on the Geno 2.0 chip and Family Tree DNA has no plans to compete with its partner.  STR results will not be supplied by Geno 2.0 and all regular genealogical marker tests should be ordered through Family Tree DNA.  These two tests go hand in hand.

By way of example, in haplogroup R-M222 – the new Geno chip includes discoveries of at least three unique SNP’s downstream of R-M222.

These 10,000 new SNPs will provide, for almost everyone, one or two additional clades (subhaplogroups) down the tree from where they are located today.  For some people, these will reach into a genealogical timeframe, connecting their SNPs and their STR data.  The STR tests will then be used to further augment the Geno 2.0 SNP tests for genealogical comparisons within families.

Q:  When will the new Y tree be available?

A:  FTDNA is vetting the Y tree in conjunction with the Genographic Project and prior to the release of these data.  This won’t occur until they will have had enough samples to fully vet the 12,000 tree SNPs, confirming the positions on the tree and that all SNP’s are working correctly.

Q:  What is the difference between the full mitochondrial sequence (FMS) test and the Geno 2.0 test for mitochondria?

A:  Chips can only tell you what is programmed on them.  The Geno 2.0 test is not as complete as the FMS.  Geno 2.0 includes all mtdna SNPs approved for research purposes at Family Tree DNA plus all known mutations found in Genbank.  The Geno 2.0 chip includes a total of about 3,100 locations, more than any other product using this same technology.

This test is very complete for European-centric haplogroups, such as H.  However the test is anthropological in nature, not genealogical.  This means that while you will receive your haplogroup assignment to the same level as a full sequence test, you will not receive other genealogical information that could be critically important to your research.  (Private SNP’s that are unknown will not be ‘discovered’ via chip testing).

If you want your anthropological information, meaning haplogroup information only, then the Geno 2.0 kit is the way to go.

Geno 2.0 has 50% more mtDNA SNP’s than the next best chip technology for mtDNA.  The only thing better is the full sequence test.  The full sequence test is the only test that can be universally used for scientific research as well.

Q:  There seems to be some confusion surrounding what products to order for what purposes.

Geno 2.0

Product Purchase?
Y DNA – 12,000 SNPS – Deep Ancestry – Haplogroup identification Yes
Mitochondrial DNA – Anthropology – Deep Ancestry – Haplogroup Identification Yes
Ethnicity – Worldwide Populations – Ancestral Informative Markers – Deep Ancestry – 137,000 total SNP locations – covers many SNPS not in Family Finder Yes

FTDNA Products

Product Purchase?
Y- DNA Regular STR tests, 12, 25, 37, 67 and 111 markers Yes
Mitochondrial DNA tests for genealogical comparisons Yes
Family Finder –for genealogical matching – cousin matching provided from Family Tree DNA data base Yes
Y DNA deep clade test Order Geno 2.0 unless time is of the essence
Y DNA WTY – after running Geno 2.0 on kit, discuss with Family Tree DNA Case by case



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24 thoughts on “Geno 2.0 – Q&A with Bennett Greenspan

  1. Thanks for the additional information and to Bennett for taking the time to answer our questions. I believe that should clear up any confusion. I just love this blog!!!!

  2. from my understanding then we should go ahead and order this test through the Genographic even if we have tested at Family Tree DNA. There is no point waiting?

    • My understanding is that in the future, at a date uncertain, and possibly significantly into the future, there will be an option for people who have an unopened vial of DNA at ftdna to order using that vial instead of a new swab. This is to accommodate tests from people who can no longer provide a new vial for testing. It is unclear if there will be any discount at all offered. If there is a discount, it will be minimal, per Bennett today. So, in my case, I’m ordering the Geno 2.0 kit for my family members. If I recall from the first Nat Geo kit, it included some nice program info as well. I see there is a booklet in the photo we received of the kit.

  3. “Private SNP’s that are unknown will not be ‘discovered’ via chip testing”

    Is this also true for Y SNPs?

    • Yes. The chip can only read specific locations programmed into the chip. New discoveries are made by scanning the entire mitochondrial (full sequence test) or Y chromosome (Walk the Y) for anomalies.

      • If new discoveries can only be made by Walk thru the Y, how did the Y-SNPs go from 800 + to 12,000 SNPs on the new chip for Geno 2.0?

        • The Y SNPS were discovered in various ways, the WTY. the 1000 genome project, etc., and when all added up, were 12,000. The chip can only give you answers for locations you program in. Discoveries are made by the old fashion sequencing methods that look at every location.

          • Thanks Roberta for making the Y- SNPs clear to me. Geno 2.0 really looks like a great leap in our self-understanding and our world view. Thanks for all the information and getting it out to us.

  4. Excellent move Roberta! THANKS from all of us bloggers! I rtweeted it and put it on facebook for my tweets and FB friends. Everyone spread the word!

  5. Thanks for getting this clarification, Roberta. I did order one Kit – but I think this makes the case for ordering two. It is the comment that for most people it will provide one or two additional clades. And you never know for your particular groups of interest until you try.

    • The answer is yes and no. The hair needs to have a follicle, so cut hair doesn’t work. However, even hair with a follicle, the success rate is significantly less than 50%, and it costs upwards of $1000 per attempt. Hold on that that hair, without touching it, for new technology.

  6. If you get additional questions for a follow up, could you or Bennett explain the implication for the test’s “European-centric” completeness for African mtDNA and y-DNA haplogroups? Also aren’t European-centric and anthropological (not genealogical time) oxymorons in terms of human history?

    • The European centric comment was only relative to mitochondrial DNA and haplogroup determination. It doesn’t apply to the Yline. What that means is that they have focused on the most SNPS relative to mitochondrial DNA on the lines that are where most of their customers fall, which is Europe. It is very complete elsewhere, but perhaps not 100% in regions where they don’t have as many customers.

  7. Hi Roberta,

    It seems that Bennett sort of side-stepped one of your questions: Will we be able to upload the Nat Geo SNP results to FTDNA (he did answer regarding the other way around, though)? I can imagine that FTDNA will be a little reluctant to do so, since the new test is definitely going to eat into their Deep Clade (and single SNP) test revenue. Knowing FTDNA, though, I would bet that they’ll eventually provide such a link (if Nat Geo allows), since their own database is one of FTDNA’s most valuable resources. What’s your feeling on this?


    • Hi Mark. Maybe I wrote in a confusing way. You will be able to download your Nat Geo SNPs to Family Tree DNA. You will do so by putting in your kit number and the Nat Geo results will be listed with the rest of your results from tests. Bennett knows that this will signal the end of the deep clade test. In fact, he says now that you should just order Geno 2.0 rather than the deep clade. Geno 2.0 is a much better solution. If you want, you can still order single SNPs and the WTY will likely always be available for discovery purposes.

      • Hi Roberta – Your writing was fine, it’s my reading that was at fault. I’m happy to know the Geno 2.0 SNP results can be ported to FTDNA. FTDNA has always tried to do the right thing by its customers, which is why they have a lot of loyal ones. -Mark

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