It has been a busy week in the world of the Y chromosome. Today, Family Tree DNA announced a new feature for their Big Y matching product, as well as a permanent price reduction to $595.
Their new feature makes it easier to determine how far up or down the haplotree your matches reside. This used to be intuitive, based on the old-style haplogroup names like R1b1a2, when compared against R1b, for example – which was obviously three branches upstream. Now that R1b1a2 is known as R-M269 and R1b is known as R-M343, there is nothing intuitive about this – which is why Family Tree DNA introduced this helpful tool.
You can see how Big Y matching works at this link.
There are two parts of the Big Y test, the results themselves, of course, and matching to others. The power in all of DNA testing is in who you match, and how, and the Big Y is a research tool to more fully define the Y tree, and your family branches too. Of course, to do that, you’ll need members of those branches to test.
Competition seems to be a good thing. Earlier this week, Full Genomes Corporation (FGC) introduced a competing product in the same financial space as the Big Y. Debbie Kennett reported on their new Y Prime offering which is priced at an introductory special of $599. One of the benefits of the Y Prime over FGC’s previous Y Elite test, aside from price, is the fact that the DNA is no longer being sent to China, but is being tested here in the US. Of course, Family Tree DNA tests have always been processed in the US and are currently performed in their Gene by Gene lab in Houston, TX.
There are other differences between Family Tree DNA’s Big Y and FGC’s Y Prime, aside from the increased coverage that Debbie reported in her blog. One difference is that your results from FGC are not online. There is no matching either, with any other customers. You receive your FGC report personally, via e-mail, as a file, and you cannot integrate the results with the people who are testing at, and matching at, Family Tree DNA. In fact, Family Tree DNA is the only DNA testing company providing Y testing, online results, matching, projects and integration.
Competition seems to be a good thing for the consumer, though, because Family Tree DNA has reduced their Big Y price to just under the FGC price, by $4. So, in essence, it’s no longer a financial decision.
I’ve been wanting to test several of the men in my Estes surname project, and we’re almost to the price point where I can do so. Regardless of the increased coverage at FGC, I will be testing through Family Tree DNA. I feel that the online results, matching capability, the surname and haplogroup projects, and having the ability to maintain the STR marker matches and the SNP matches in the same data base provides a service that is unequaled. From my perspective, DNA testing without matching and analysis tools would be pretty much pointless.