New Family Tree DNA Holiday Coupons – And Why the Big Y

holiday-lights

Each week during the holiday season, Family Tree DNA issues new coupons on Monday. These coupons are redeemable on top of the holiday sale prices, already in effect.

As I’ll be doing each week, I’ve listed my coupons available to redeem from kits that I manage.

But first, want to talk briefly about one particular type of DNA that is tested, and why one might want to order that particular test.

I’ve seen questions this past week about the Big Y test, so let’s talk about this test today.

The Big Y Test

The questions I’ve seen recently about the Big Y mostly revolve around why the test isn’t listed among the sale prices shown on the Family Tree DNA main page.

The Big Y test is not an entry level test. The tests shown on the Family Tree DNA main page are entry level and can be ordered by anyone, at least so long as the Y DNA tests are ordered for males. (Females don’t have a Y chromosome, so Y tests won’t work for them.)

The Big Y test is an upgrade for a male who has already taken the regular 37, 67 or 111 STR (short tandem repeat) marker test. For those who are unfamiliar, STR markers are used in a genealogically relevant timeframe to match other men to search for a common recent ancestor and are the type of markers used for 37, 67 and 111 marker tests.

SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms) are used to determine haplogroups, which reflect deep ancestry and reach significantly further back in time.

Haplogroups are predicted for each participant based on the STR test results, and Family Tree DNA’s prediction routines are very accurate, but the haplgroup can only be confirmed by SNP testing. These two tests are testing different types of DNA mutations. I wrote about the difference here.

Different SNPs are tested to confirm different haplogroups, so you must have your STR results back with the prediction before you can order SNP tests.

The Big Y is the granddaddy of SNP testing, because it doesn’t directly test each SNP location, and there are thousands, but scans virtually the entire Y chromosome to cover in essence all known SNPs. Better yet, the Big Y looks for previously unknown or unnamed SNPs. In other words, this test is a test of discovery, not just a test of confirmation.

Many SNPS are either unknown or as yet unnamed and unplaced on the haplotree, meaning the Y DNA tree of mankind for the Y chromosome. The only way we discover new SNPs is to run a test of discovery. Hence, the Big Y.

It’s fun to be on the frontier of this wonderfully personal science.

Applying the Big Y to Genealogy

In addition to defining and confirming the haplogroup, the Big Y test can be immensely informative in terms of ancestral roots. For example, we know that our Lentz line, found in Germany in the 1600s, matches the contemporary results of Burzyan Bashkir men, descendants of the Yamnaya. I wrote about this here, near the end of the article.

Even more amazing, we then discovered that our Lentz line actually shares mutations with ancient DNA recovered from Yamnaya culture burials from 3500 years ago from along the Volga River. You can read about that here, near the end of the article. This discovery, of course, could never have been made if the Big Y test had not been taken, and it was made by working with the haplogroup project administrators. I am eternally grateful to Dr. Sergey Malyshev for this discovery and the following tree documenting our genetic lineage.

JakobLenz Malyshev chart

Our family heritage now extends back into Russia, 3500 years ago, instead of stopping in Germany, 400 or 500 years ago. This huge historical leap could NEVER have been made without the Big Y test in conjunction with the projects and administrators at Family Tree DNA.

And I must say, I’m incredibly glad we didn’t wait to order this test, because Mr. Lentz, my cousin who tested, died unexpectedly, just a couple months later. His daughter, when informing me of his death, expressed her gratitude for the test, the articles and shared with me that he had taken both articles to Staples, had them printed and bound as gifts for family members this Christmas.

These gifts will be quite bittersweet for those family members, but his DNA legacy lives on, just as the DNA of our ancestors does inside each and every one of us.  He gave all Lentz descendants an incredible gift.

Purchasing the Big Y

If you or a kit you manage has already tested to 37 markers, you can order the Big Y test as an upgrade.  If they haven’t yet tested to 37 markers, you’ll need to order that test or upgrade first.

Every kit has an upgrade link that you can see in two places on your personal page.

upgrade-link

Click either of these links and you’ll be able to see which tests are available for you to purchase including upgrades.

upgrades-available

The sale prices are reflected on this page. Just click on the Big Y or whatever tests you wish to purchase.

If you have a coupon code, type it into this field where I’ve typed “Coupon Code” and then click on Apply.

upgrade-big-y-checkout

It’s worth noting that there are a couple $100 off coupons for the Big Y and some $75s and $50s too.

Coupons

Now, for this week’s list of coupons. As always, first come, first serve. These coupons expire on 12-4-2016 unless otherwise noted. Dates before 12-4 are a result of bonus coupons issued during the past week as coupons were used.

Please list any coupons you wish to share in the comments to this article.

Please note that these coupons, with the exception of the Big Y test, are for new kit orders only, not upgrades.

Remember to be cognizant of the number 1 versus the capital letter l, and the number zero versus the capital letter O.

Click here to redeem coupon codes below or to see what coupon codes await you on your account!!! Enjoy!

Coupon # Good for What
R186H23O1CJY $10 Off MTDNA
R18UFAYP9YP1 $10 Off MTDNA
R18CM684KFTG $10 Off MTDNA
R18QQOEDDC2W $10 Off MTDNA
R18B6EQTQNZO $10 Off MTDNA
R18N16ONSWUM $10 Off MTDNA
R18T3EGHSFSJ $10 Off MTDNA
R18DK57J883L $10 Off MTDNA
R18ZAODYZ5OS $10 Off MTDNA
R18G3OZQCHBR $10 Off MTDNA
R1859WUSWKWO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18P6S4FJWOM $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KOGLXRX7O $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R185G17XWT3R $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18RJ37YR49M $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18KDQDDADVB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R186LQRI8DS2 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18QSZB7A86T $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IU4DK5NGW $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18IK8GMDD8C $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18U9XCYU1HO $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OM4SXOL16 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AWCHIW45H $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R188VCTO38WC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AJXZEZEXC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R155WBEMG99 $100 Off Big Y
R18HMGLKL4KG $100 Off Big Y
R1834VTG4CIF $20 Off MTDNA
R18TRKWO2MY9 $20 Off MTDNA
R18OUBCTA2KI $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18ZXDH7TAX7 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18OX18NFXJE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18AB7JDZ73O $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18XEKCN8GPH $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R18UUAEIVMG9 $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1813Q24LQA7 $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R1853SS3IIQP $30 Off Y-DNA 67
R18BQFEFNWSL $40 Off MTFULL
R18M96WZ4X5F $40 Off MTFULL
R18O73U6Y51O $40 Off MTFULL
R18S53W9HXBC $40 Off MTFULL
R157Y5N3USEH $40 Off MTFULL (until 12-3 only)
R189ZHFFPSU3 $40 Off Y-DNA 111
R18XO6Q76XP{N $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R187Y9BO9ODH $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18OFGORCM7E $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R189HMHY3N9D $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R18DMEO59OVO $40 Off Y-DNA 67
R15QHJMX45W7 $50 off Big Y
R18MKLR7L32P $50 off Big Y
R15GVYGX51MI $50 Off Big Y (Until 12-1 only)
R18H467ILEKD $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18AOZQU4XZG $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18QO8WNQNOZ $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R186Z9BJDZEC $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R18HOPBNDKIL $60 Off Y-DNA 111
R188ODYMOO5P $75 Off Big Y
R15VBANUACFW 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R154JXYQPK6F 20% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111

Genos – A Medically Focused DNA Exome Test

On June 21, 2016, I placed an order for a DNA test with a new company, Genos at http://www.genosresearch.com. The first week of October I received my results.

Genos is a new type of testing company, focused not on genealogy, but on the human exome and medical conditions. Of course, that doesn’t mean that the genetic genealogy community might not find a way to utilize these tests in the future – but today this test is not useful genealogically.

A typical genetic genealogy autosomal test tests between roughly 500,000 and 900,000 locations to compare to others to determine kinship. These are the most variable locations in our genome, the ones most likely to differ from each other and be genealogically useful.

Exome testing, on the other hand, tests 50 million locations – the ones most often medically relevant and the ones we know the most about. Testing the 99% or so of our genome that is exactly like every other human is pointless, for either genetic genealogy or medicine.

What is an Exome?

What is the exome? Genos explains.

genos1

genos2

Let’s step through the ordering process, then look at my results. They are very interesting.

What is Genos?

Before ordering, I did a bit of research on what Genos offers, what makes them different, and what kind of potential they might have to help me understand my own genes and conditions that makes me unique.

Let’s take a look.

Founders

Genos was founded by these two men.

genos3

The next tab is Values, and I’m really impressed, especially with number 4, below.

genos4

And the Genos Vision:

genos5

genos6

Let’s move to the Product page.

Product

genos7

genos8

genos9

genos10

genos11

Ordering

genos12

genos13

genos14

Your DNA at Genos is yours, entirely, and you can choose when, where and if you want to participate in studies, unlike Ancestry and 23andMe where the consent you MUST AGREE TO in order to activate your kit includes allowing them to sell and profit from your DNA.

Family Tree DNA does NOT sell your DNA. Family Tree DNA does not want the genetic genealogy community to associate genetic genealogy testing with medical testing, because of concerns that it might discourage some people from testing for genealogy.

genos15

genos16

Before ordering, as with any DNA sequencing product or service, please read the Genos Terms of Service here. The Privacy Policy is here and the Terms of Use are here. These are all actually different parts of one larger document titled “Genos Legal Policies.”

As far as I’m concerned, this is the overarching important sentence:

We do not sell, lease, or rent your User Information without your explicit consent.

genos17

Also keep in mind that as with all companies, policies can and do change over time – and it’s the consumer’s responsibility to stay current with the policies of any company you do business with.

A New Business Model

Genos is trying a new business model both in terms of testing the entire exome and in terms of allowing participants to actively participate in selecting research projects, so I decided to be on the frontier of this brave new world. You pay for the sequencing, but the results are yours, forever, whether you participate in medical research projects or not, and Genos doesn’t sell your DNA or otherwise share your DNA results without your permission. You own it and you control it. Period.

I want to contribute to and facilitate research, but I want to select the research projects in which I choose to participate. I don’t feel that it’s ethically or morally right for a company to in essence capture and co-opt my DNA by holding forth the lure of my ancestors as bait. Both Ancestry and 23andMe participate in this unsavory practice. The Genos model very specifically does NOT do that.

Right now, the Genos Exome sequencing product and services are in BETA.

I was the 98th person to order this test, although I’m sure many more have ordered since June.

Let’s take a look at my results.

My Personal Logo

The first thing Genos does is to introduce you to your genome by creating a personal logo for you, if you select that option. I did, of course.

genos18

The circle twirled and locations on my chromosome lit up, like tiny fireflies. I wish I had taken a video.

genos19

Next, my unique logo, derived from my DNA, was displayed beside my name.

genos20

genos21

OK, that was fun, but now, let’s look at the data and what, as a consumer, I receive.

The Four Options

Your results are broken down into 4 categories. You can explore your genome, click on Health Identity, view the News or look at the educational Genomics 101 section.

genos22

I first spent a few minutes looking at Genomics 101 which is professional and well written. It includes chapters covering questions like, “What is a gene?”

genos23

The News section includes links to articles you may find of interest. Of course, I was dying to see my results, so I quickly moved on to the “Explore Genome” tab, where I saw the Map Your Genome page. So, let’s map my genome.

Map Your Genome

Genos compares your genome of the standardized Genome Reference Consortium reference model.

On the page, below, Genos shows me the 44,154 locations where I vary from the reference model, of which only 773 of these have known medical affiliations or mentions in medical papers. The key word here, of course, is KNOWN. The rest of the variants could be family differences, recently introduced or perhaps from generations back in time. Those locations may not be medically significant, or they may be, but we just don’t know how yet. Time and research will tell.

genos24

Out of the 50 million loci (locations) sequenced, I have 773 variants which are certainly of interest and may or may not be relevant medically.

I wondered what happens when a new variant is discovered to be medically relevant or found in a new paper. Would my 773 become 774, or is this a static page, really only relevant to today? I wrote and asked Genos, and discovered that their customer support is very prompt, courteous and helpful. Here’s what they had to say.

At no additional cost to you, as the information in ClinVar (the NIH sponsored database) is updated with new assessments and new discoveries, your data will be automatically updated through our digital experience. This ensures that you are always aware of the latest literature available.

This is great news, making this product infinitely useful (medically) into the future.

You can view all of your chromosomes with the chromosome number and the number of identified variants present on each chromosome, below.  Please note that you can click on any image to see a larger version.

genos25

Genos allows you to browse your medically relevant variants and what they may mean. The results are broken down into “Conditions” and “Traits,” as seen at right, above.

The Conditions are health related, but just because you have a mutation that may be associated in literature with a particular condition, that does NOT mean you have or will ever be diagnosed with that condition. In fact, as you can see, the literature itself is often contradictory. We don’t always understand what makes one person get a disease while another person does not.

For this reason, nearly every page that involves conditions also contains a link to genetic counselors along with cautionary messages that succinctly warn people against assuming that variant=disease. It doesn’t.

Individual Chromosomes

You can explore each chromosome individually.

genos26

I clicked on variant 1, on chromosome 1, above.

If I click on the NEXN with the right arrow, I see the display below.

genos27

If I click on the G>A which means the normal G nucleotide at this location has been replaced with an A in my case, I see the following:

genos28

I can then read more about this gene and the mutational variant.

genos29

I must tell you that I feel very empowered by having my own genetic information at my fingertips that was previously entirely unavailable to me, or available only through a medical provider, if at all.

Conditions

Moving now to the Conditions link on the right hand side of the main page, I can see the following conditions, grouped by category.

genos30

You can explore the Conditions link for conditions associated with your variants, the Traits or the Variants themselves.

By clicking on the icons, you can see how many variants you have in each category. The first category is allergies.

genos31

For example, here is one of my Conditions. I’ve chosen to share this one because you can tell by looking at my picture that I am clearly NOT albino.

genos32

Still, I carry at least one mutation associated with this condition.

Estes Publicity

Almost every single page carries this warning verbiage, which is proven by my albinism mutation and my somewhat younger photo when my hair was still its original color!

genos33

Variants

Variants are divided into groups.

genos34

Most of my findings are benign. Whew!!!

genos35

This is an example of one of my benign variants.

genos36

You can see that while this mutation is mostly benign, or green, some papers show it to fall into the other risk categories.

Please note the verbiage at the bottom of the screen.

“What is believed to be true today may be disproven tomorrow.” That’s part of why I’m participating in this type of testing.

The screen for each variant goes on to provide the links to the studies themselves, which may or may not agree, so you can read and digest for yourself. Please, unless you’re an MD, do not attempt to be your own doctor!

genos37

Traits

The Traits at Genos are the same traits that are tested and reported by other testing firms as well.

genos38

genos39

Like other genetic values, variants and results, these may or may not be accurate. My hair is very thick, as you can see from my photo, I taste bitter very well, unfortunately, and my skin is not light…at least not for someone primarily Caucasian. Some of these traits are clearly subjective. They make for interesting party conversation.

Health Identity

The next section of the website if for Health Identity. This is where you provide information about yourself and your health history. 

genos40

If you’re going to participate in this type of endeavor, it’s important to provide Genos with as much information as possible. That’s one avenue for Genos to know who would might be a good candidate for specific kinds of research.

Research

While there aren’t any research projects yet underway today, there will be in the future.

genos41

And last but not least…

Genetic Counselors

If you discover something you would like to know more about, or that concerns you, you can make contact with a genetic counselor through the Genos site.

genos42

genos43

Caveat

I am, personally, very much an advocate of genetic research, when it is preformed ethically, transparently and with full disclosure. As far as I’m concerned, Genos absolutely fits that bill.

However, if someone were prone to anxiety or hypochondria, this type of testing might not be a good fit.

I’m not prone to either, and I have a very high risk tolerance level, but I still am inclined to spend quite a bit of time looking at the variants that aren’t benign. If you are in the “don’t want to know” camp, then don’t test. Bottom line.

Let me say this again.

Don’t test if you really don’t want to know.

You cannot put the genic back into the bottle once it’s out.

genie-bottle

Exome testing is different than genetic genealogy testing and has the potential to reveal information which may be frightening or distressing to some people, which is why I shared my results with you in such detail.

Looking to the Horizon

Having said that, I find exome testing absolutely fascinating. I would like to see if my children have the same variants that I do. Did they inherit those from me or did those variants bite the dust in my generation? Are there variants that I carry one of and my children have two, meaning their father contributed one as well? What does this mean, health-wise, potentially, for my grandchildren?  What did they inherit?

Of course, today, exome comparisons between individuals are not possible at Genos (or elsewhere), but perhaps in the future?

Could this type of testing be a step forward in identifying conditions and diseases not yet “discovered” as we define them today? Some mutations affect particular individual family lines negatively, and sometimes fatally. Can exome testing help these families, if not today, then tomorrow? Exome testing certainly has that and a lot more potential.

I’m excited about being able to select and participate in research studies with the ability for the researchers to contact me to follow up many years into the future, if need be. The new Genos model allows citizens willing to have their exome sequenced the opportunity to help shape the future of medical understanding and potentially, contribute to treatments and cures – in addition to learning a great deal about their own DNA and literally what makes them tick.  Which studies you participate in and what happens to your DNA is entirely within your control.

I hope that a research project (or projects) that I participate in eradicates a disease or diseases so that my descendants will only read about the disease in history books and will hopefully know that their ancestor played a small role in disease extermination.

In the mean time, I’m very actively participating in exome testing to attempt to track and identify a fatal family mutation that has plagued one family for at least 4 generations.  Of course, we don’t yet know how successful we will be.  However, exome testing, especially at this price, holds promise that was never available before. I hope that what today is literally a life and death experiment will one day be a standard testing routine available to any family with this type of issue.  I’ll let you know the outcome in a few months.

You Don’t Know What You Don’t Know

Your family is your very best genealogy resource, in many ways.

comet

With the holidays approaching, this is the perfect time to talk to your family about family history. Often, we think about family history in the sense of genealogy, meaning names, birth dates and death dates. But there is more to the story – a lot more. Or maybe better said, there are many stories to flesh out your genealogy.

It’s those stories that you want to hear and the holidays when family is gathered provide perfect opportunities. You just have to get the ball rolling!

I discovered over the years that people react better to questions that are open ended and encourage them, and others in the room, to talk and reminisce.

Questions I asked my mother that produced very interesting answers were questions like:

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in your lifetime?

For mother, it was electricity in her home. It had never occurred to me that she had lived in a home without electricity before that conversation. The discussion then progressed to things like, “how did you preserve food without electricity,” “how did you have light in the evenings,” and “how did your parents heat the house,” especially since I don’t remember a fireplace in my grandmother’s home. The discussions that followed were very interesting and would never have happened without that single topic-opening question.

For example, I learned that the bedrooms weren’t heated, and the “bathroom” didn’t need to be heated since it was the outhouse.  That means bathing was with a cloth out of a wash basin or tub with water heated on the wood stove.

Another question that might produce some wonderful stories is to ask about “once in a lifetime events.”

My mother recalled a family trip to the 1933 World’s Fair in an old Model T Ford to see her grandmother, Nora Kirsch Lore McCormick’s quilt displayed in the Sears Pavilion.

nora-1933-quilt

In my case, one of those (hopefully) once-in-a-lifetime events forever seared in my memory is the 1965 Palm Sunday Tornado which cut a wide and devastating swath through central Indiana.  I didn’t realize what I was seeing, but I saw that tornado move across the southern part of the city where I lived.  A tree fell on the house and in an instant my mother grabbed me and we ran for the basement – her half dragging me all the way.

Another time, Mother, my daughter and I were in a van in Illinois one beastly hot June day and after watching a wall cloud overtake us, a tornado picked the van up and moved it some 20-30 feet off the road, sitting it back down right side up, amazingly enough. We were all fine that day, albeit terrified, but others weren’t so lucky.

Another very memorable and somewhat surreal event, as an adult, was unexpectedly seeing the Hale-Bopp Comet from an airplane.

A humorous episode occurred when mother’s uncle died in the middle of a paralyzing blizzard and they put his body in my grandfather’s garage. That was the family joke for years, ribbing my grandfather, but what else were they going to do?

“Remember when” stories like these may never surface if you don’t prompt with questions – and the answers in terms of your family and also in terms of what was happening in society – like radio, TV, electricity and the space race – at that time in history are all part of your family story. Those things would clearly have affected everyone one way or another but the personal stories of how they directly affected people in your family will never emerge unless you ask those leading questions – and record them for posterity.

DNA

Of course, it goes without saying that you might want to take some DNA kits along to family gatherings, just in case.  I always have a swab kit in my purse or in the car, or both.

Your family is also your best resource for genetic genealogy as well. Different family members can provide haplogroup information for ancestors whose haplogroups you don’t carry.

Family members often can and will gladly provide this genetic information for the family, but they don’t realize they carry these genealogy gems, gifts directly from the ancestors passed down the direct paternal and direct matrilineal lines. For example, your father and his siblings can provide the mitochondrial haplogroup of your paternal grandmother (red circles on the chart below), something you don’t carry.  Of course, the blue squares on the chart below represent the direct patrilineal line for males which is both the path of the Y chromosome and the traditional way surnames are inherited.  Your father will carry the family surname and Y DNA, but your mother’s father or brothers will carry the Y of her birth surname.  There’s lots to be discovered!

DNA Pedigree

If you’d like to see an example of how to build a DNA pedigree chart, above, by collecting the haplogroup information from all of your ancestral lines, click here.

Let’s face it, both Y and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups are the only direct line periscope we have back in time more than the few generations provided by autosomal testing. Autosomal DNA is divided in half in each generation, but Y and mitochondrial DNA is not, and is passed intact, except for mutations that might occur, generation to generation – making Y and mtDNA extremely valuable resources to the genealogist.

Haplogroups, discovered through Y and mitochondrial DNA testing, are invaluable historical resources revealing your deep ancestry and not utilized nearly enough. We simply don’t know what we don’t know and testing the right people is the only way to find out.

In terms of autosomal DNA testing, anyone that is a third cousin or closer is used in Family Tree DNA’s phased family matching to indicate which side of your family your matches originate from, as shown by the little blue male, pink female and purple “both” icons shown beside matches, below.

Phased FF2

The only way to divide your matches into maternal and paternal sides, without both parents, is by testing other relatives.  If you’re lucky enough to have both parents, that’s wonderful, but the only way to divide your parents’ results is by testing other relatives as well.

Right now, you can purchase the DNA kits on sale and save them until you need them. You can fill in the name of the tester when you determine who is going to take the test, but be sure to let Family Tree DNA know the correct gender at the time the test is submitted if it is different than the gender indicated when you purchased the kit. The actual swab kit is the same for both genders, but gender verification is part of quality assurance for the various tests.  Listing the wrong gender will delay your test results – and no one wants that!

When I find a willing candidate, I have them swab right then and there, on the spot, and I mail the kit back to Family Tree DNA myself. That way, I know the swabbing gets done and the kit doesn’t take up residence in their junk drawer or under the front seat of the car forever!  In one case, family members found a used swab kit in the glove box three years later, after the person died – and amazingly – it was still good!  However, mailing the kit back yourself avoids these situations.

Enjoy your holidays, take DNA kits along, and ask leading questions. You don’t know what you don’t know and you’ll never find out if you don’t ask those questions and DNA test your relatives.

Family Tree DNA 2016 Holiday Sale

An annual event we all look forward to, the Family Tree DNA Holiday sale is here with a new version of weekly gifts for everyone.

ftdna-holiday-2016

First, almost all of Family Tree DNA’s tests are on sale.

Family Finder and Bundles Regular Price Sale Price
Family Finder (for males and females) $79 $59
Family Finder + Y37 (males) $268 $188
Family Finder + Y67 (males) $367 $278
Comprehensive Genome (males) – Family Finder + Y 67 + mtDNA full sequence $566 $451.50
Family Finder +mitochondrial full sequence (males and females) $298 $228
Paternal (Male Only) Tests  
Y37 $169 $139
Y67 $268 $229
Y111 $359 $319
Big Y (Upgrade Only from Y Tests) $575 $525
Matrilineal (Male and Female) Tests  
MtDNA+ (HVR1+HVR2) $79 $79
mtFull Sequence (complete test) $199 $179

Additional Holiday Reward Coupon Savings

Second, there are additional “Holiday Reward” coupon savings e-mailed to every customer sometime after midnight Sunday Central Standard Time (meaning sometime on Monday) that provide additional savings on specific products. You can use these coupons on top of the sale prices to receive additional discounts – beginning with an extra $10 off.

If you don’t receive the e-mail right away, you can sign on to your account to see your coupon, at the top of your personal page with the green background that says “Holiday Reward.”  Be sure to check other accounts you manage as well.

ftdna-holiday-coupon

If you’re not going to use your coupons, you can share them by listing the amount and what they can be applied towards in the comments to this blog or by directly sending to someone via e-mail from your account.

Here’s my coupon for this week, and the first person to use it is welcome to the savings!.

ftdna-11-22-coupon

Furthermore, it gets better yet, because if you share your holiday rewards coupon, you will receive another coupon that may be better than the first one, depending on what you want to purchase – according to the e-mail from Family Tree DNA, below.

ftdna-second-coupon

Your personal page provides a second way for you to share your coupons in order to receive a second coupon before the following Monday. However, you will receive a second coupon regardless of whether you share through your account or by just giving someone your code (like on the list below.)

ftdna-coupon-sharing

Please feel free to list any coupons you may want to share, and what they are for, in the comments to the blog, like we have done every year. I will be listing my coupon codes available for usage each week as well.  Feel free to use the ones below and beware the difference between zero (0) and the letter capital O, and the number one (1) and the letter capital I.

Click here to use the coupons below or to see what coupons await you!!!

Coupon # Good for What
R16IYQIC4FZD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16IW5OVTB52 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MIX3DXOYJ $40 OFF Y67
R16LQMMYCZOD $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16RCMN3BJN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16I85RHI8QC 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163H7YVXHOK $50 Off Big Y
R16OS1AX7X8I 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R165K78FBHMY 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UC39OU5F $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MD7L3UG3Q 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R163SVXYBR9A $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16ZX1JNQDTQ 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1685DXE53D9 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16L9CDAN31Z $20 Oiff MTDNA
R16J7VI9OFWN $20 Off MtDNA
R16U55JS9S2D 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16TPNKGFKHK $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R162B6TXJYMB $10 Off MTDNA
R16163G75WQ1 $40 OFF Y67
R16QAKWBYB0O 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16JYOR77GEO $100 Off Big Y
R16A4A69Y5A5 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16GOOWFAOON $10 Off MTDNA
R16W4JTXHOX6 $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1643WY7WOQN $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16SZDSTDH9A $20 Off MtDNA
R16H1H6KOTP7 $20 Off MtDNA
R16LKDOQG3UF 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16POHVJ97YB $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R168OCU8PR14 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16UNAZTG2ZE $75 Off Big Y
R16OFCKVHOWY $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16K9YZRTYA8 $10 Off MTDNA
R16TL78JDKMS $20 Off MtDNA
R16O9JV4OTN6 20% OFF Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16EW3O2ZHYC $10 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16MVKTAVKY8 $40 off MTFULL
R16O3HF22OQH $10 Off MTDNA
R161SAUW7VX3 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16BTUFHPM1F $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16457PON7BE $20 Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1667JIWJJRS $40 OFF Y67
R16DO4G9UF8L $50 Off Big Y
R165VL2OLBIZ $40 off MTFULL (used)
R162OJ2Y1CM6 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R16R8O4M6F5U $50 Off Big Y
R164CHEXU2U9 $20 Off MtDNA
R167SSQG2SZK 10% Off Y37, Y67 or Y111
R1672CFZN7KB $20 Off MtDNA

Happy Holidays and thank you, Family Tree DNA!

Building Your Personal Mitochondrial Tree

People who test at Family Tree DNA and receive mitochondrial DNA full sequence results often have questions about how they can use their results to further their understanding of their ancestors.

One of the things you can do is to build a mitochondrial DNA haplotree of your own, showing how various people that you match are or are not descended from common ancestors. To do this, you’ll need to contact your matches and share your mutations.

Your results at Family Tree DNA tell you how many mutations you have, shown below, in the genetic distance column.  For more information on genetic distance, how it is calculated and what it means, click here.

GD my results

Your results at MitoSearch, if you upload, or within projects at Family Tree DNA, show you the HVR1+HVR2 region mutations, but the only way to compare the coding region, or full sequence matches is for the people involved to share them directly with each other.

How can mutations help identify your common ancestors with your matches, or if not the ancestor themselves, at least where they were from?

Let’s look at reconstructing a DNA tree based on both your common mutations and mutations you don’t share with your matches.

When building a DNA tree, remember that once a mutation enters the mitochondrial DNA, unless there is a back-mutation, which is exceedingly rare, that mutation will be found in all descendants.

This discussion excludes heteroplasmic mutations, which can be easily identified as any mutation that ends with any letter other than T, A, C or G – for example 16519Y would be heteroplasmic, indicated by the Y. The simple explanation for heteroplamic mutations is that they are a mutation in progress, and therefore relatively recent. They don’t pertain to deeper ancestry, so we are ignoring them for this discussion. Most people don’t have heteroplasmic mutations.

Building Your Tree

Let’s look at an example of how to build a mitochondrial mutation tree.

A common ancestor, at the top of the tree, has 2 mutations that they pass to all of their descendants.

Ancestor B and C have those 2 mutations, so they match ancestor A and each other.

Both ancestor B and C have both developed mutations that don’t match each other. In real life, it would be very rare for mitochondrial DNA to develop mutations in every generation, so just view this as a rather time-compressed example.

In ancestor B’s line, there are two contemporary individuals, D and E, who have all 3 of the mutations that Ancestor B carried.

So, you have a tree that looks like this.  You can click to enlarge.

mito-tree

Ancestor C also has two descendants, F and G, who both carry all of Ancestor C’s mutations, plus both F and G each have a mutation that doesn’t match each other.

So, now let’s say Person I comes along as a match. You can tell which line they belong to, and which lines they don’t, by which mutation(s) person I carries, as compared to your tree. For example, if person I carries mutations 1, 2 and 4, then you know that they are a descendant of Ancestor C, not B.  If they carry 1, 2, 4 and 5, then they descend from Person G’s line.

I suggest that you work with your full sequence matches to build this type of mitochondrial descendancy tree. You must work with your matches, because you cannot see your matches’ coding region results, not even in projects, so you’ll have to ask each one to share with you. Be prepared, some people won’t answer, but often, based on who the people match that do respond to you, and are willing to share, you can figure out the missing blanks.

For example, Let’s say John matches you with one mutation, and so does Joe, but Joe doesn’t answer your e-mail. However, John wants to work with you and John matches Joe exactly. Now you know which mutation Joe has as well – the same one as John.

You know that each of your full sequence matches is within a maximum of 3 mutations difference from you, because that’s the maximum that Family Tree DNA allows to be considered a match at the full sequence level.

Of course, not all of your matches will have the same 3 mutations, which is why you’ll need to work with them to see how your tree fleshes out. Who knows what surprises you may find.

The first question I ask each of my matches, after explaining what I’m trying to do, is whether they share any of my extra or missing mutations, with the exception of the insertions at 309, 315 or 522 and/or any mutation at 16519. These mutations are extremely common. Sometimes people are more comfortable sharing specific mutations than sending you their results. Other people will be glad to send results. In rare instances, the coding region may hold mutations that have medical significance, which is why Family Tree DNA doesn’t show specific mutations, only whether you match or not.

mito-extra-and-missing

In the example above, you can see that C16189T is normally present in this mitochondrial sequence, but it missing from this person’s results.

Your mitochondrial tree that you build may well shed light on your common ancestor and based on the location of the oldest ancestor of the person at the top of your tree, may also shed light on the location where your common ancestor may have lived and the migration path she took to where your most distant ancestor in this line was found.

My own mitochondrial DNA tree begins in Scandinavia and only my line winds up in Germany before 1700.  Another branch is found in Poland.

mitomatches

Ironically, my exact matches are in Norway (red), not to the line in Poland (orange). The rest of the lines whom I match and that also descend from my Scandinavian ancestor are still found in Scandinavia with one exception found in southern Russia which could be a result of migration to this region from the Germanic region of Europe in the 1700s and 1800s. This tells me that I’m closer, genetically, to the Scandinavian branches than the Polish branch, which is not at all what I would have expected. The Polish branch apparently migrated separately from mine.

My mitochondrial tree also tells me that the common ancestor of all of the matches likely originated in Scandinavia, possibly Norway, also not something I would have expected, given that my most distant ancestor is very clearly German, based on church records.

Give building your mitochondrial tree a try and see what kinds of surprises it may hold!  If you haven’t yet tested your full sequence mitochondrial DNA, order that test today.  You have ancestors waiting for you!

Concepts – Undocumented Adoptions vs Untested Y Lines

So you took the Y-line test and you don’t match the surnames you expected to match and now you’re worried. Is there maybe an “oops” in your lineage?

One of two things has happened. Either your line has simply not tested or you have an undocumented adoption in your line.

An undocumented adoption is any “adoption” at any time in history that is not documented – so if you didn’t know about it, it’s an undocumented adoption. Often, these events in genetic genealogy are referred to as NPEs, Non-Paternal Events, but I prefer undocumented adoptions.

Yes, there are myriad ways for this to happen, and I mean besides the obvious infidelity situation, but right now, you only care about figuring out IF you have an undocumented adoption, not how it happened.

How can you tell if your line is one that simply hasn’t been tested of if there is an undocumented adoption in your line? Sometimes you can’t, you’ll simply have to wait until more people of your surname test. Of course, you can always recruit people through the Rootsweb and Genforum lists and boards and social media.

Most of the time this is a process of elimination. If you can’t find anything to suggest that you have an undocumented adoption, then your line is simply probably untested, especially if it’s not a common surname or your ancestors had few male children.

However, there are often clues lurking relative to undocumented adoptions.

Scenario 1 – Right Family, Non-Matching DNA

If you are part of DNA surname project and there are other people who have tested, that you don’t match, that claim the same ancestor as you do – you might have an undocumented adoption on your hands.

In this case, someone’s genealogy is wrong, yours or theirs. By wrong, that doesn’t mean you made a mistake. You (or they) may have tracked the line back to the right ancestor, but instead of being the child of a son of John Doe, for example, your ancestor was the child of the daughter of John Doe, who wasn’t married at the time and had a child by a Smith, but gave the child her surname, Doe.

undoc-1

So right Doe family, wrong child giving birth. There are also other family situations that are discovered utilizing Y DNA testing, like a child simply using the step-father’s name. In this case, finding more descendants to test, especially through other sons will help resolve the paternity question. Given the scenario above, we really don’t know whether the green or red DNA is the Y DNA of John Doe. We need the DNA of another son to resolve the question.

Scenario 2 – Accurate Genealogy, Undocumented Adoption

If you are part of a DNA surname project and two other people who descend from two separate sons of the same ancestor you claim, both having good solid genealogy back to that ancestor – you do have an undocumented adoption on your hands. This situation pretty much removes any doubt about your ancestral line if you are Steve, below.

undoc-2

Assuming their genealogy is correct (and yes, the genealogy could be wrong), theirs (the green) is the paternal line from that ancestor, so you need to start looking at situations that might lend themselves to your ancestor having that name but not sharing that paternal genetic line.

The break in the ancestral line can have occurred anyplace between John Doe and son Steve and the tester, Steve V.  You might want to test males descended from men between Steve Doe and Steve Doe V.  Word of warning here – if you don’t want to know the answer, don’t test.  The break could be between you and your father or your father and grandfather.  Sometimes, these possibilities are just too close for comfort.

At this point, I would turn to autosomal testing to see if any of the people in the surname project match you autosomally. That may tell you if you are actually descended from this line at all – perhaps through a female child as described above. With autosomal testing, especially of distant relatives, you can prove a positive, that you are related, but you can’t really prove a negative, that you aren’t related.

If you’re testing second cousins or closer, you can prove a negative.  If you don’t match your full second cousins, there is a problem – and it’s not the genealogy.

Scenario 3 – Matching a Group of Men with a Particular Surname

If you match a significant number of men with other surnames, with one surname in particular being closely matched and quite prevalent, it’s a large hint. For example, let’s say you have 6 matches at your highest marker level, and 5 of them are Miller men descended from the same ancestor. Chances are very good that you are of Miller descent too.

Again, I’d turn to autosomal testing at this point to see how closely you are related to your closest matching Y DNA Millers or others descended from this same ancestral line.

undoc-3

Scenario 4 – Your Line is Untested

If your surname is something quite unusual, like Ferverda for example, and you don’t fit the situations described above, then it’s likely that your line simply hasn’t tested yet. In this case, the grandfather of our tester was the immigrant from the Netherlands, and Ferverda, both there and in the US, is a very unusual name.

undoc-4

Of course, your line having not tested can happen with common surnames too.

Utilizing Y Search

Check www.ysearch.org periodically to see if others of your surname took the Y chromosome test elsewhere and just got around to entering the results into YSearch, even though the other testers (Ancestry, Sorenson) have been defunct for some time now relative to Y DNA.

undoc-5

You can also search at YSearch by surname. You don’t have any way to view results by surname, outside of projects, at Family Tree DNA, so the only way to discover that someone who claims your paternal line and doesn’t match you is to search by surname at YSearch and hope they have included a tree.

undoc-6

In this example, one person with the Estes surname has results at YSearch, but 40 have Estes in their tree, just not as their patrilineal surname.

undoc-7

Keep in mind that depending on how far back in time an undocumented adoption occurred, you may find matches to people with that same surname who descend from your common biological ancestor, but you may still not share the original ancestor. In the example above, the Doe men red all match each other, because their unknown Smith ancestor is the same, but they don’t match the descendant of John Doe through son James.

A non-match to men of your same surname isn’t a cause for panic, but it is time to do some additional digging to see if you can discover why.

Happy ancestor hunting!

Conferences, Reunions and Flavors of Family

riddell

Jim Brewster (FTDNA), Gail Riddell (New Zealand), me with Linda Magellan peeking over Jim’s shoulder at the ISOGG reception at the 2016 FTDNA conference. Photo courtesy Gail Riddell.

What do you call an event where you’ve seen the same folks for a dozen years? An event that brings people from the far corners of the earth, literally? A conference that feels far more like a family reunion.

What do you call those people?

Family.

New family.  Old family.  Family of heart.  Sisters or brothers by another mother maybe.  Friends you just haven’t met yet.  And sometimes…real, honest to blood cousins.

The 12th annual international family reunion, er, I mean International Genetic Genealogy Conference sponsored by Family Tree DNA occurred this past weekend in Houston.  I’m still on the road, typing on a tiny keyboard, and I really can’t do it justice just yet but I want to take this opportunity to send you a couple teasers and just to say how wonderful it was to see everyone again.

Sadly, some were missing.  Hopefully we’ll see them next year.  Unfortunately, a few have passed over to where genealogists get to meet all of their ancestors, so we have to cherish their memories and hope they will help out by sending us answers from their current location.

It’s hard to believe it has been a dozen years now.  The first conference was in 2004 – a one day event in Houston.  Little could we know or dream what the next decade+ would bring.

Another thing I find amazing is just how many people in this group of 230 or so people I am related to in one way or another.  All of these, bar none, were discovered via DNA testing.  Whoever would guess that in a room of 230 random people you would find several cousins? Certainly makes you wonder looking around the bus, at the people at work or in a restaurant.  How many share your ancestors?

I’m still on the road and will be for a few days, so you’ll get an article to do the conference justice when I get home.  In the mean time, I encourage you to read Jennifer Zinck’s wonderful summary articles on her blog, Ancestor Central.  Jen can type much faster than I ever could and she is able to listen at the same time too. The bad news is that there were several breakout sessions that ran concurrently and Jen can only be in one place at a time.  We have not yet defied the laws of physics.

Jen and I discovered that we have Mayflower ancestors in common, in addition to being friends – having met at this same conference years ago.  There just might be another ancestor trip in the planning stages….just saying.

Speaking of Jen, she contributed the photo below.  Many thanks, Jen.

We had a once-in-a-lifetime special event at the conference this year. Max Blankfeld and Bennett Greenspan were presented with rather unique Lifetime Achievement Awards by the genetic genealogy community.  Max and Bennett were both very grateful, not to mention….nearly speechless, a second once-in-a-lifetime event!

img_7231

Left to right: Linda Magellan, Roberta Estes (talking), Max Blankfeld, Bennett Greenspan, Nora Probasco and Katherine Borges. Photo courtesy Jennifer Zinck.

As many of you may know, I’m a quilter and yes, I made the double helix quilts.  I asked Katherine Borges, Linda Magellan and Nora Probasco to help me with the presentation process since I could not hold up 4 corners of two quilts by myself….and these ladies have attended all 12 conferences as well.  Not to mention, they are quilters – so they were glad to be co-conspirators.

We were all very honored to present these awards and want to thank Janine Cloud at FTDNA for clandestinely working us into the schedule without raising suspicion!  While that sounds easy, believe me, it wasn’t.

I will be writing an article about Max, Bennett and the awards shortly, and a separate article about the quilts themselves.

Until then, I’m still basking in the glow of two days of hugs, meals with friends, collaboration, and newly discovered information and opportunities. I encourage each of you to find a reunion or conference to attend so you can have the same wonderful experience.  There is just nothing better than family, regardless of which kind of family you have – of blood or of heart – or maybe yet-to-be-met!