Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA

Family Tree DNA has been rolling out updates and upgrades fast and furious.

On July 7th, Family Tree DNA released Phased Family Matches which included phasing to people linked to your tree who have DNA tested who are related to you.  These phased matches allow Family Tree DNA to assign matches to maternal or paternal buckets, or both.  The people that could be utilized for this phased matching were as follows:

  • Parent(s)
  • Aunts
  • Uncles
  • First Cousins
  • Grandparents

Of course, because everyone wants the most people possible in their assigned parental buckets, the first clamor was for the addition of:

  • Half siblings
  • Half “other relatives” such as aunts, uncles, first cousins, etc.
  • Second Cousins
  • Third Cousins

Family Tree DNA said that there would be additional new developments shortly, and exactly 20 days later, they quietly rolled updated capabilities that includes matching to… guess it….all of the above, plus more, including:

  • Great-great-grandparents
  • Great-grandparents
  • Grand uncles
  • Grand aunts
  • Great-grandaunts
  • Great-granduncles

I’m certainly envious of anyone who can test their great-grandmother – although my grandchildren have their great-grandmother, grandmother and both parents in the system.

In my case, before this change, the only relative that I had in the system that originally qualified was my mother. I was very excited to have people in my maternal bucket and was wishing for people in my paternal bucket. I do have several cousins who have tested on my paternal side, but none as close as 1st cousins.

Imagine my delight when I signed on to my account and discovered 359 individuals in my paternal bucket and one in both, in addition to my 256 maternal phased matches.

Both Buckets

These 359 phased paternal matches come from the combination of the following 8 individuals that have tested and I had previouisly linked to me in my tree:

  • Half sister’s granddaughter
  • Two first cousins once removed
  • One first cousin twice removed
  • One second cousin
  • One second cousin once removed
  • Two third cousins

Of course, now I’m searching through my DNA matches to see if I have anyone else who qualifies that has tested.

And I’m thinking about any other cousins that would benefit my phased parental bucket assignments if I were to be able to convince them to test.

I unlinked and relinked a few people to see how many people were added to the buckets because of them.

The second cousin once removed added 12 new people. Yet, one of the third cousins added 82, so you really never know. Some of the people who might have been added to a bucket by the second cousin may have already been added to the parental bucket by an earlier match.

Regardless, the more people linked to your tree from third cousins closer, the better your chances for having people assigned to maternal and paternal sides of your tree, even without having your parents.

Keep linking people in your tree when you know where and how they connect to you – regardless of where they are located in your tree.  You never know how that may benefit you – which morning you may wake up and find additional information or more people in your buckets.  What a great surprise!!!

This is a pretty amazing feat if you think about it, given that just a few years ago autosomal testing wasn’t available at all, and even today, no other vendor does phased matching, assigning individuals to maternal or paternal buckets utilizing parents and other relatives when parents aren’t available.



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64 thoughts on “Additional Relatives Added to Phased Family Matches at Family Tree DNA

  1. When they say second and third cousins, I assume that doesn’t include any “removes”. I have a second cousin twice removed as the closest family member on my father’s side who has been tested

  2. I’m a part of a Claiborne Co., Tennessee group on Family Tree (at least I think I am). If I match someone in that group it would be a paternal (DaVar) match. How would I know if I’ve matched to someone in a group?

  3. I “cheated” and linked a 1C1R as a 1C and I got results that seem fairly accurate if, perhaps, not as comprehensive. But I suspect a little endogamy can throw a wrench into things with Ashkenazic populations trying that.

  4. I manage several family accounts. Only mine shows father phasing (our mother was not tested). My brother does not show father phasing. My son does not show father or mother phasing matches, though he should as both his parents were tested. Is there something I need to change in settings to make this happen.

  5. I’m really liking the tools at FTDNA. This is a very nice addition. Now to get my mom’s first cousin (who’s father was the identical twin to my grandfather) to follow through with testing! Genetically she will be like a half sister, but I guess it doesn’t matter what the relation is. If it’s true phasing, they find the common DNA and use that to compare to your matches. Right?

  6. Love this new tool, makes it so much easier and saves time when looking at those with common names, when you know which ones relate to ie maternal/paternal. Seems to be identifying triangulated groups for distant cousins which is great.

    The family tree symbol is problematic though, I seem to have an inordinate number where the tree symbol is blue but there is only the tester there? Seems to have been part of these changes. Is there a problem there do you know?

  7. On the Tabs above Family Finder pages, I do not show up in the Maternal Tab on my son’s page, and he doesn’t show up on mine either, though we have confirmed the relationship. What am I missing?

    Also in the Family Tree I find the ‘Match’ links a tad ridiculous, for instance my son and his father’s ‘Match’ links are each other, they have the same first names but different middle names, I have dismissed them, but they keep reappearing. Other so called ‘Matches’ have different names, for instance my husband’s sister Judith Marie Williams had a Match come up as Judith Carney Williams, the name Carney means nothing to my husband, but with no way of checking it out, i.e. that persons Tree or Profile, what use is it? Some names bear no relation to the so their called Match, it seems like chasing straws to me.

  8. This shared segment phasing feature is also very helpful in the following way: when you run ICW on someone, the ICW Matches will also show the maternal or paternal designation. This may help you determine which side the ICW Match is and/or if the ICW Match Triangulates (clearly a Match cannot Triangulate on both sides)

  9. Shouldn’t FamilyTreeDNA also be able to utilize close Y-DNA and mt-DNA matches that are also in FamilyFinder, and additionally use them for phasing. They wouldn’t even require being added to the tree and could happen automatically for everyone.

      • Fair enough. Given that, shouldn’t they still be able to use X-DNA in every male that was tested to help determine each of their maternal sides?

          • Ok, I did some research this evening. I think X matches over a particular threshold could be assigned to the maternal side for males. Having said that, the problem is that the other matches assigned to buckets are actually physically phased so you know you have an exact allele match on at least one segment with a direct family member. So you know the bucket is valid and not IBC. However with the X you would have to infer that the match is not IBC and I’ve seen lots of cases where the X comes from a different ancestor than other chromosomes. So we would kind of be mixing the quality of matches. If only large segment X matches are assigned, then people will be confused about why the rest aren’t assigned. Not saying this is s bad idea, but it’s more complex than it initially seems. One man I researched this evening had no X matches over 6.5 cM. Very interesting.

  10. Lkessler, Roberta et al

    X is not that simple. Ever.

    I have a paternal autosomal match that lists a 5cM X. But when I check my mother’s file, this person was not listed. So that means the X came from my father?? Not possible since I am also male.

    When I looked closer at GedMatch, which will show X without an autosomal match, I found out that the X did indeed come from my mother.

    So apparently I match this person with 20 cM autosomal match from my father and a 5cM from my mother. I dont know how FTDNA would represent that with their current system.

    I have quite a few other “paternal” X matches that do not correspond to my mother at FTDNA. I believe they will turn out to be X matches to my mother, but unless they are also at GedMatch, I cant verify that.

    • I’m covering this including the X in an article due to be released the first part of next week. From my research today, the X is seldom the piece of DNA that is exactly phased. And you’re right, the X is never as simple as it would appear.

  11. Sometimes I think X matches are more trouble than they are worth, or at least are more misleading than I had thought they would be considering I’m my daddy’s daughter. In my case I have 94 paternal phased matches who have the X match label. Only 25 of them actually share at least one X location with both Dad and me based on the chromosome browser data and only 4 of them are over 7cM. So I share X segments with 69 of these paternal phased matches that don’t appear to be from Dad, with segments ranging from 1 to 18 cm. I’ve briefly looked at X matches and Mom and it seems to be a similar pattern with the majority of my phased maternal X matches not actually matching her on X. So I take most of my X matches with a grain of salt and only identify them as such in my spreadsheet if the chromosome browser data shows an X segment shared with a parent.

      • I think I just had a mismatch of expectations and reality. I expected the matching X segments for most of the people who X match and are ICW Dad to actually be from Dad. The reality is most of them aren’t.

      • Of the 9 matches over 8 cM, Dad and I share 4 with 2 from the same family. The longest non-shared is 18 cM. The very small segments go either way with the bulk of the 4-5 cM ones non-shared. I’m starting to think this is Mom’s New Netherlanders showing up.

  12. These new phased matches are very nice. My uncle has 8073 matches (Ashkenazi). I added his only “known” relative, a 2nd cousin once-removed on his mother’s side and it added 30 Maternal matches. I added a 3rd cousin on his father’s side (even though I don’t know the exact connection) and it added 33 Paternal matches. It works! Only 8010 to go.

    • … Then I noticed that a sister of that 3rd cousin, who was listed in the Paternal side with him had an X-Match beside her. So I selected her and “In Common With”, and I got 4465 ICW matches, with 25 Paternal and 17 Maternal. To me, that indicates that her other parent is related and matches on the X-chromosome and she was passed this match but her brother wasn’t. Martin and Annie in their posts above are likely encountering the same thing.

      • I suspect my parents were related, perhaps back in the 1600s, as both are extremely Colonial and in the same states. (But I get a zero on the GedMatch parental tool). No hint of Ashkenazi. I do have repeated instances of DNA matches to my mother showing up in my father’s trees. And presumed paternal matches showing up in my mother’s tree. And that is just autosomally. Adding the X factor is either an exciting opportunity or a major headache, depending on your perspective.

        I have done great things on the X in other situations (triangulating 10 fourth/fifth cousins to one segment and one ancestor born in 1739). So sometimes X is definitely worth the hassle.

  13. My 1739 ancestor is my 5th gr gm, so I guess most of my matches are about 6th cousins. The matching blocks range from 14 to 49 cM. Most are around 30. They all coincide on the same region of the X on the Chromosome browser and also pass the X matrix consistently. There are about a dozen matches, although I can only trace 9 people back via 4 of her sons (She had one married daughter as well, but no known matches so far). I have autosomal matches with three of them.

    My ancestor is from the Dutch NY community and perhaps there was endogamic inheritance through 1800 or so. After 1800, many of these people started marrying out of the community.

  14. I have another question. I am filling out the charts for both me and a cousin. She is a confirmed 3rd cousin on my dad’s paternal side. Before me, there are 3 generations of males, before we get back to our common ancestors, our gg-grandparents. But this cousin and I are x-matches. I can see where she got the x from her mom>grandmother>g-grandfather>gg-grandmother (our common ancestor). But there is no way I can see where I would have gotten that x because she is not related on my dad’s mother’s line. Can I assume we are also related along another line? Trying to understand all this is giving me a headache.

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  16. My phased family matches still are not working. I have unlinked, linked, deleted tree, added tree. I manage 6 kits and it still isn’t working for any of them. I called last week and was given the “There is a known issue.” Do you have any insight into this? I asked for an update as to a release date or something. They didn’t know. I am sure this is the coolest tool EVER, but it absolutely stinks right now for me and mine. 🙁

    • No, although I do know where are some known issues. I don’t have any insight into release dates, etc. I can’t imagine why 6 kits wouldn’t be working. The only bug I know of positively is that when a half-relationship is added, you must have two parents, even when the second parent isn’t in your line. The phasing doesn’t work when you only have one parent.

  17. New matches don’t seem to be phased. I am linked to both my parents and have many phased matches per page right up to July 7 when I made the links. Three pages of new matches since then have no phased icons at all. Is there some way to force a recalculation??

  18. Just out of curiosity I unlinked myself to my parents which eliminated any phasing, and then relinked us which recalculated everything. The phased new matches now have the appropriate icons. It works but it seems like there should be a way to do this without having to unlink and relink.

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  20. I’m new to FamilyTree DNA and apparently my aunt took the test and showed up as a match in purple. When I click on a link to add her, the only options are mother, father or siblings. ???

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