African DNA in the British Isles

Gustavus Vassa

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Interesting_Narrative_of_the_Life_of_Olaudah_Equiano, a slave, written and published in England in 1789

While the Slave Owner registers from 1834 in England and the recent project to index and study their contents has raised consciousness about slavery and how intertwined slavery was through Caribbean sugar production to all of the British Isles – DNA is telling a story too.  While the slave owner registers speak to the ownership of slaves in the Caribbean by Britains, those weren’t the only slaves.

I have done several DNA Reports in past decade for people who received unexpected results.  By unexpected results, I’m referring to clearly African haplogroups in Europe, primarily the British Isles, found in people who are just as clearly “white” today – and whose ancestors have been considered as such for generations.  Furthermore,  their autosomal DNA generally shows no trace or occasionally shows minute amounts of their African heritage, yet it is clearly there as proven by Y and mitochondrial DNA.

When these people are found in the US and their ancestors have been here for generations, especially in a slave-owning area, my first thought is always that perhaps the genealogy is in error – or that there was an undocumented adoption that would never show in genealogical records.  But when the people are not in the US and their ancestors have never lived outside of Europe and are well-documented, the results are impossible to explain away or rationalize in that fashion.

blacks in london

I’m also not referring to haplogroup E-M215, old E1b1b or E-M35, old E1b1b1, which is known to be North African, or Berber, found in the Mediterranean basin.  This haplogroup is found sparsely in England, likely due to the Roman legions who arrived and stayed or at least left some of their Y DNA behind.  Steven Bird wrote the paper about this titled “Haplogroup E3b1a2 as a Possible Indicator of Settlement of Roman Britain by Soldiers of Balkan Origin.”

I’m talking about haplogroups that are unquestionably sub-Saharan African in origin, such as Y DNA E-M2, old E1b1a now E-V38, and often, mitochondrial haplogroups such as L1, L2 and L3  – meaning that they originated with women, not men.

This begs the question of how those haplogroups came to be embedded in the British population long enough ago that there is no record that the people who carried them were not white.  In other words, the person who brought that haplogroup to the British Isles arrived long ago, many generations.

I have always found this a bit confounding, because while England was indeed heavily intertwined in the slave trade, England never had the space or need to employ slaves in the way that they were engaged on large plantations in the Caribbean or in the Southern US.  Furthermore, England had its own surplus of people they were trying to send elsewhere, which was one of the benefits of colonization.  You could send your undesirables to populate your colonies.  For example, those pesky recusant Catholics who refused to convert settled in Maryland.  Many people convicted of small crimes, such as my Joseph Rash for stealing 2 bags of malt, were transported to the colonies, in his case, Virginia.

We know that there were some Africans in Elizabethan England, although those records are almost incidental, few and far between.  Africans have been in England since the 12th century, but it wasn’t until slaving began in earnest that their numbers increased.  At this point, blacks in England were mostly novelties and were often owned by captains of slave ships and occasionally sold on the quay of coastal cities like Bristol.

Although not widespread, slavery was practiced in England until 1772, when the Somerset case effectively determined that chattel slavery was not supported by English law.  This legally freed all slaves in England, if not in actual practice.  Slaves in England at that time were mostly domestic servants and flocked to be baptized in the hope it would ensure their freedom.  The good news is that those baptisms created records.

Buried in the details of the Somerset case and arguments are an important tidbits.

James Somerset, a slave, was purchased in Massachusetts and brought to England by his master, Charles Stewart.  James escaped, was captured and was going to be shipped to the Caribbean by Stewart and sold as a plantation slave.  However, while in England, James had been converted to Christianity and his three god-parents upon his baptism filed suit claiming that while he may have been a slave when brought to England, that English law did not support slavery and he was therefore not a slave in England and could not be shipped against his will to the Caribbean to be sold.  This was not a humanitarian case, per se, but a case about law and legal details.

Somerset’s advocates argued that while colonial laws might permit slavery, neither the common law of England nor any law made by Parliament recognized the existence of slavery and slavery was therefore unlawful. The advocates also argued that English contract law did not allow for any person to enslave himself, nor could any contract be binding without the person’s consent. When the two lawyers for Charles Stewart, the owner, put forth their case, they argued that property was paramount and that it would be dangerous to free all the black people in England, who numbered at the time approximately 15,000.

That’s the information I was looking for.  There were 15,000 African or African descended slaves in England in 1772.  Given that most were domestic servants, the females would have been subject to whatever their owner wanted to impose upon them, including sexual advances.  Let’s face it, there were a lot more English men available in England than African men, so it’s very likely that the children of enslaved women would have been fathered by white men whether by consensual or nonconsensual means.

Their half white children would also have been enslaved, at least until 1772, and if they also bore children from an English male, their offspring would have been 25% African and 75% English.  Within another generation, they would have looked “white” and their African heritage would have been forgotten – at least until their descendants eight or ten generations later took a mitochondrial or Y DNA test and turned up with confusing African results.

Cultural Footprints

I was recently corresponding with a descendant of Valentine Collins, one of the Melungeon families of mixed race found in and nearby Hawkins County, Tennessee in the 1800s.

Here’s what he had to say.

When I first started looking into my Collins’ family history, I realized very early this was going to be a real adventure. What I did was set up a system to look at different aspects of their lives/history. I call it ‘cultural footprints’. I have those foot prints broken down as:

  • Religion
  • The Table (food)
  • Music
  • Language

Most of the data I’ve mined are based on these four Cultural Footprints. But I would have to say Genetic Genealogy provided the biggest breakthroughs, the best tool by far.

Well, obviously I liked his commentary about genetic genealogy, which gives us the ability to connect and to prove, or disprove, connections.  But as I looked at his list, I thought about my own ancestors.  Those of you who follow my blog regularly know that I love to learn about the history during the time that my ancestors were living – what happened to and near them and how it affected them.  But his commentary made me wonder what I’ve been missing.

As I think back, one of the biggest and most useful clues to one of my ancestral lines was an accidental comment made by my mother about her grandmother. She mentioned, in passing, “that little white hat that she always wore.”  I almost didn’t say anything, but then I thought, “little white hat, that’s odd.”  So I asked and my mother said something like, “you know, those religious hats.”  I asked if she meant Amish or Mennonite, given the context of where they lived and she said, “yes, a hat like that.”  Then, when questioned further, it turns out that the family didn’t drive, even though cars were certainly utilized by then.  My mother never thought about it.  Turns out that the family was actually Brethren, also one of the pietist faiths similar to Amish and Mennonite, but that hint sent me in the right direction.

How could my mother have been unaware of something that important, well, important to me anyway?  Easy.  It was, ahem, not discussed in the family.  You see, it was somewhat of a scandal.

My mother’s father had married outside the Brethren religion, so was rather ostracized from the family for his choice to marry a Lutheran. Then the family became, horror of horrors, Methodist.  So, I would add clothing to my friend’s list of cultural footprints as well.  Sometimes, like in my case, dress will lead you to religion.  In the photo below, my mother’s grandmother is the female in the middle back row.  If you look carefully, you can see that both she and her mother are wearing a prayer cap.

John David Miller Photo

I know the religion of many of my ancestors. Whatever their religious choice, it was extremely important to many.  I have 1709ers, Acadians, Brethren, Mennonites, Huguenots, fire and brimstone Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians in my family line.  I always try to find their church and the church records if possible.  Some are quite interesting, like Joseph Bolton who was twice censured from the Baptist church in Hancock County, Tennessee.  Many of my ancestors made their life choices based on their faith.  In particular, the Huguenots, 1709ers, Brethren and Mennonites suffered greatly for their beliefs.  Conversely, some of my ancestors appear to never have set foot in a church.  I refer to them as the “free thinkers.”

Well, in one case, my ancestor was a bootlegger in the mountains of Kentucky. What the hey…every family has to have some color, and he was definitely colorful….and free thinking.

Most of us are a mixture of people, cultures and places. All of them are in us.  Their lives, culture, choices and  yes, their DNA, make us who we are.  If you have any doubt, just look at your autosomal ethnicity predictions.

Language of course is important, but more personally, local dialects that our ancestors may have spoken. In the US, every part of the country has their own way of speaking.

Here’s a YouTube video of a Louisiana Cajun accent. Many Acadians settled in that region after being forcibly removed from Nova Scotia in 1755.

Acadian-Cajun language, music and early homes in Louisiana

Here’s a wonderful video of Appalachian English. In my family, this is known as “hillbilly” and that is not considered a bad thing to be:)  In fact, we truthfully, all love Jeff Foxworthy, well, because he’s one of us.  I’m just sure if we could get him to DNA test, that we’d be related!

There are regional and cultural differences too.

Here’s a video about Lumbee English. The Lumbee are a Native American tribe found in North Carolina near the border with South Carolina.

Going further east in North Carolina, the Outer Banks has a very distinctive dialect.

What did your ancestor’s speech sound like?   What would it have sounded like in that time and place?

That, of course, leads to music. Sometimes music is the combination of speech and religion, with musical instruments added.  Sometimes it has nothing to do with religion, but moves us spiritually just the same.  Music is the voice of the soul.

Here’s Amazing Grace on the bagpipes. If you can get through this dry-eyed, well, then you’re not Scottish…just saying.  This connects me to my Scottish ancestors.  It was played at both my mother’s and my brother’s funerals.  Needless to say, I can’t get through it dry eyed!

Amazing Grace isn’t limited to bagpipes or musical instruments. The old “hardshell” Baptists didn’t utilize musical instruments, and still don’t, in their churches.  Listen to their beautiful voices, and the beautiful landscape of Kentucky.  This is the land, voices and religion of some of my people.

A hauntingly and sadly beautiful Negro Spiritual. Kleenex box warning.  This, too, is the music of my family.

Yeha – Noha – a Native American song by Sacred Spirit. One of my favorite music pieces.

Bluegrass gospel – Swing Low Sweet Chariot. Bet you can’t keep your foot from tapping!!!

Appalachian fiddle music. Speaks directly to my heart.  And my hands.  I just have to clap my hands.

Acadian music. This would be very familiar to my Acadian ancestors.

At this link, you can hear samples of Acadian folk songs by scrolling down and clicking on the track listing.

Moving a little closer in time. This is the official state song of Tennessee – one of my all-time favorites.  I can’t tell you how many times I’ve danced to this.  This just says “home” to me and I can feel my roots.

What kind of music did your ancestors enjoy? Did they play any musical instruments?  Can you find the music of the time and place in which they lived?  YouTube has a wide variety and the videos are an added benefit, bringing the reality of the life of our distant ancestors a little closer.

Now that you know what fed their souls, let’s look at what fed their bodies.  Along with regional speech and musical differences, the diet of our ancestors was unique and often quite different from ours of today.

On the Cumberland Gap Yahoo group, we often exchange and discuss regional recipes, especially around the holidays. Same on the Acadian rootsweb group.  Although this year we’ve been talking about deep fried turkeys.  Maybe in another couple hundred years that will be considered representative of our time.  Hopefully it’s not McDonalds!

The Smithsonian sponsors a website about Appalachian foods.  Let me share with you what I remember about my childhood.  We made do with what we had, whatever that was.  Some things were staples.  Like biscuits, with butter, or honey, or jam, or apple butter…whatever you had on hand that was in season.

biscuits

Chicken fried in bacon grease was for Sunday, or company, which usually came on Sunday.

fried chicken

We wasted nothing, ever, because you never knew when you might not have enough to eat. So, we ate leftovers until they were gone and we canned. Did we ever can.  Lord, we canned everything.  Mason jars in huge boiling kettles in the hottest part of summer.  Let’s just say that is not my favorite memory of growing up.  But green beans at Christmas time were just wonderful, and you couldn’t have those without canning in the August heat.

cans

Different areas have become known for certain types of cuisine. In North Carolina, they are known for their wood-fired BBQ.  In western North Carolina, they use a red, slightly sweet, tomato based BBQ sauce, but in eastern NC, they use a vinegar based BBQ sauce.  Want to start a fight?  Just say that the other one is better on the wrong side of the state:)

BBQ pit

Creole cuisine is found in the south, near the Mississippi Delta region and is from a combination of French, Spanish and African heritage.

creole

Jambalaya is a Louisiana adaptation of Spanish paella.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Soul food is the term for the foods emanating from slavery.  When I looked up soul food on wiki, I found the foods my family ate every day.  When I think of food that we didn’t eat, but that my African American cousins did eat, I think of chitlins.  Yes, I know I didn’t spell that correctly, but that’s how we spelled it. And the chitlins we had were flowered and fried too, not boiled.  Maybe that is a regional difference or an adaptation.

chitterlings

Another “out of Africa” food is sorghum, used to make a sweet substance similar to molasses, used on biscuits in our family. Sorghum is an African plant, often called Guinea Corn, and arrived with slaves in colonial days.

sorghum

Native American cuisine varies by where the tribe lived, and originally, they lived across all of North and South America. Originally, the Native people had the three sisters, corn, squash and beans.  Hominy is Native, as is grits, a southern staple today.  I’m drooling now…

grits

Today, however, one of the signature Native American dishes is FryBread. Fried and seriously unhealthy, the lines at powwows are longer for frybread and a derivative, Indian Tacos, than anything else.

frybread

In many places, the settlers, slaves and Native people assimilated and the food their descendants ate reflected all three cultures, like Brunswick Stew.  Even Brunswick Stew varies widely by location as do the origin stories.  Many foods seems to have evolved in areas occupied by European settlers, Native people and slaves, to reflect ingredients from all three groups.

Brunswick stew

That’s the case in my family, on my father’s side. We didn’t know any differently, or where that particular type of food originated.  However, sometimes by looking at the foods families ate, we can tell something of their origins.

In marginalized populations, and by that, in the US I mean mixed race or descendants of enslaved people, it’s often very difficult to use traditional genealogical records because they didn’t own land or leave other records. Many of them spent a lot of time trying to make themselves transparent and didn’t want to attract any attention.

Often, it’s the DNA that unlocks the doors to their heritage, and after making that discovery, we can then look the cultural footprints they left for us to follow.

I’m starving. I’m going to eat something unhealthy and listen to some wonderful music!  How about grits with butter and Indian tacos for lunch along with powwow music?  Oh yeahhhhhh…….

10 Things to Do With Your DNAPrint, renamed AncestrybyDNA, Test

birdcage

Please note, AncestrybyDNA is NOT the same as the AncestryDNA test sold by Ancestry.com.  Both CeCe Moore and David Dowell have written about this in their respective blogs.

Back in 2002 (no, that is not a typo,) a new product called DNAPrint was introduced by a company then called DNAPrint Genomics.  It provided you, in percentages, your percentages of 4 ethnic groups: Indo-European, East-Asian, Native American and African.  Family Tree DNA remarketed this test for just over a year but ceased when they realized there were issues.

It was the first of its kind of test ever to be offered commercially, and version 2.0 utilized a whopping 71 ancestrally informative markers, according to the user’s guide delivered with the product.  The next version of the test, 2.5, titled AncestrybyDNA included 175 markers, and a third version, which I don’t believe was ever released, was to include just over 300 markers.

In 2002, this was a baby step in a brand new world.  We, as a community, were thrilled to be able to obtain this type of information.  And of course, we believed it was accurate, or relatively so.  However, the questions and ensuing debate started almost immediately and became very heated.

The company’s representatives indicated that East-Asian and Native American could be combined for those without a “Chinese grandpa” and that would have given me a whopping 25% Native American.  Even then, before pedigree analysis, I thought this was a little high.  My East Asian was shown as 15%, Native American at 10% and Indo-European at 75%.  For reference, my real Native results are probably in the 1-3% range.  Keep in mind that we were all babes in the woods, kind of stumbling around, learning, in 2002 and 2003.

Interestingly enough, I found the answer recently, quite by accident, to one of the burning questions about Native American ancestry that was asked repeatedly of Tony Frudakis during that timeframe, then a corporate officer of DNAPrint, and left unanswered.  In Carolyn Abraham’s book, The Juggler’s Children, which is a wonderful read, on page 55, the answer to the forever-hanging question was answered:

“When I finally reached Frudakis, that’s how he explained the confusion over our Native ancestry result – semantics.  The Florida company had pegged its markers as being Native American to appeal to the American market, he told me.  But it was accurate to consider them Central Asian markers, he said, that had been carried to different regions by those who migrated from that part of the globe long ago – into the Americas, into East Asia, South Asia and even southern Europe – finding their way into today’s Greeks, Italians and Turks.  ‘We may do ourselves a favour and change the name of this ancestry [component] in the test,’ he said, since apparently I wasn’t the only one baffled by it.”

So, now we know, straight from the horses mouth, via Carolyn.

Of course, since that time, many advances have occurred in this field.  Today, Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, Ancestry.com and the Genographic Project utilize chip based technology and utilize over half a million markers to achieve ethnicity predictions.  If DNAPrint, renamed AncestybyDNA was the first baby step, today we are teenagers – trying to refine our identity.  Today’s tests, although not totally accurate, are, by far, more accurate than this first baby step.  Give us another dozen years in this industry, and they’ll be spot on!

For 2003, when I ordered mine, DNAPrint was an adventure – it was exciting – it was a first step – and we learned a lot.  Unfortunately, DNAPrint under the name AncestrybyDNA is still being sold today, currently owned by the DNA Diagnostics Center.  If you are even thinking about ordering this product, take a look first at the Yelp reviews and the Better Business Bureau complaints.

I don’t regret spending the money in 2003.  Spending money on this outdated test today would be another story entirely – a total waste.  The results are entirely irrelevant today in light of the newer and more refined technology.  Unfortunately, seldom a week goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail from someone who bought this test and are quite confused and unhappy.  The test has been marketed and remarketed by a number of companies over the years.

So, here are some suggestions about what might be appropriate to do with your DNAPrint or AncestybyDNA results if you don’t want to just throw them away:

  1. Line the bottom of the birdcage.
  2. Use to light the BBQ grill or camp fire.
  3. Use under boots in the hallway in the winter.
  4. Shred, then use as confetti.
  5. Cut into strips and use as bookmarks.
  6. Use as scratch paper.
  7. Use in the garden between rows to minimize weeds.
  8. Make into a paper airplane.
  9. Roll, along with other excess paper, into logs for the fireplace.
  10. Frame, and display along with your other antiques.

Yes, it’s really that old and outdated!

The African Diaspora Conference Videos Available

HeywoodIn September,  2013, The African Diaspora: Integrating Culture, Genomics and History was held at the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington DC.  Sadly, I had commitments elsewhere and could not attend.

The National Human Genome Research Institute, the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the National Museum of Natural History held a full-day symposium that brought together scholars, scientists and practitioners from various disciplines who are exploring the African Diaspora throughout historical, cultural and genomic lenses with the purpose of understanding a person’s ancestry and how that impacts individual health and collective identity.

The symposium’s objectives were to foster interdisciplinary dialog on what we can learn about:

  • Ancestral history from genomic information and historical records.
  • Ethnic identity and cultural diversity from historical and genomic information.
  • The arts and culture from ancestral information.

I was not able to attend, but reports from those who did were very positive.  Fortunately, the videos are now available to view, for free.

http://www.genome.gov/27555386

Furthermore, I’d like to mention that one of the papers I co-authored with Jack Goins, Janet Crain and Penny Ferguson, “Melungeons: A Multi-Ethnic Population” was cited  by Dr. Linda Heywood.

Dr. Linda Heywood is a Professor of African American Studies and History at Boston University.  I was impressed with her throughout this panel discussion.  At about 6:48 she discussed identity, and her comment, “History, it’s personal, it’s communal, it’s national, it’s identity.”

She mentions our paper at about 57:46.  At 22:54 she comments about various Africans being incorporated into the Portuguese settlements in Africa before being shipped out as slaves, something we also mentioned in our paper.  And finally at 1:15:00 she referred to the paper again as a resource.

I was also very impressed with Dr. Sarah Tiskoff and was disappointed to see that there were not any individual sessions by her.

I hope you’ll take an opportunity to watch a few of these videos, and a big thank you to the Smithsonian for making them available.

Correlating Historical Facts to DNA Test Results

Sometimes DNA tests hold surprising results, results that the individual didn’t expect.  That’s what happened to Jack Goins, Hawkins County, Tn. Archivist and founder of the Melungeon Core DNA project.  Jack, a Melungeon descendant through several ancestors, expected that his Y paternal haplogroup would be either European or Native American, based on oral family history, but it wasn’t, it was E1b1a, African.

Jack’s family and ancestors were key members of the Melungeon families found in Hawkins and Hancock Counties in Tennessee beginning in the early 1800s.  In order to discover more about this group of people, which included but was not limited to his own ancestors, Jack founded the Melungeon DNA projects.

Over time, descendants of most of the family lines had representatives test within both a Y-line and mitochondrial DNA project.  The results were a paper, Melungeons: A Multi-Ethnic Population, published in JOGG, the Journal of Genetic Genealogy, in April 2012.

Many people expected to discover that the Melungeons were primarily Native American, but this was not the outcome of the DNA project.  In fact, many of the direct paternal male lines were African and all of the direct maternal female lines tested were European.  While there are paper records, in one case, that state that one of the ancestors of the Melungeons was Native American (Riddle), and there is DNA testing of another line that married into the Melungeon families that proves that indirect line is Native American (Sizemore), there is no direct line testing that indicates Native ancestry.

Aside from the uproar the results caused among researchers who were hopeful of a different outcome, it also begs the question of whether the documents we do have of those families support the DNA results.  What did the contemporary people who knew them during their lifetime think about their race?  Census takers, tax men and county clerks?  Are there patterns that emerge?  Sometimes, when we receive new information, be it genetic or otherwise, we need to revisit our documentation and look with a new set of eyes.

It’s common practice in genetic genealogy circles when “undocumented adoptions” are discovered, for example, to revisit the census and look for things like a child’s birthdate being before the parents’ marriage.  Something that went unnoticed during initial data gathering or was assumed to be in error suddenly becomes extremely important, perhaps the key to unraveling what happened to those long-ago ancestors.  Like in all projects, some descendant lines we expected to match, didn’t.

Recently Jack Goins undertook such an analysis of the documentary records collected over the years in the various counties where the Melungeon families or their direct ancestors lived.  We know that today, and in the 1900s, most of these families appear physically primarily European, an observation supported by autosomal DNA testing.  So we’re looking for records that indicate minority admixture.

Do the records indicate that these people were black, Native, European, mixed or something else, like Portuguese?  Was the African admixture recent, so recent that their descendants were viewed as mixed-race, or were the African haplogroups introduced long ago, hundreds or thousands of years ago perhaps, maybe in Mediterranean Europe?  If that was the case, then the Melungeon ancestors in America would have been considered “European,” meaning they looked white.  What do the records say about these families?  Were they uniformly considered white, black, mixed or Native in all of the locations where family members moved as they dispersed out of colonial Virginia?

If these men were Native Americans, would they have likely fought against the Indians in the French and Indian War in 1754?  Melungeon ancestors did just that and they are specifically noted as fighting “against the Shawnee.”  Their families were found in census records as “free people of color” and “mulatto” countless times which indicates they were not slaves and were not white.  On one later census record, below, in 1880, Portugee was overstricken and W for white entered.

1880 census
1880 census 2

Melungeon families and their ancestors were listed on tax records and other records as mulattoes, never as mustee and only once as Indian.  Mulattoes are typically mixed black and white, although it can be Native and white, while mustee generally means mixed Indian with something else.  On one 1767 tax list, Moses Riddle, a maternal ancestor of a Melungeon family is listed as Indian, but this is the only instance found in the hundreds of records searched.  The Riddle family paternal haplogroup reflects European ancestry so apparently the Indian ancestor originated in a maternal line.

Court records identify Melungeon families as “colored” and “black” and “African” and “free negroes and mulattoes” as well as white.  In the 1840s, a group of Melungeon men, descendants of these individuals classified as mulattoes and free people of color were prosecuted for voting, a civil liberty forbidden to those “not white,” and probably as a political move to make examples of them.  Some of these men were found not guilty, one simply paid the fine, probably to avoid prosecution due to his advanced age, and the cases were dismissed against the rest.  Some were also prosecuted for bi-racial marriage when it was illegal for anyone of mixed heritage to marry a white person.  In earlier cases, in the 1700s in Virginia, these families were prosecuted for “concealing tithables” specifically for not listing their wives, “being mulattoes.”  In another case, the records indicate an individual being referred to as ‘yellow complected,’ a term often used for a light skinned mulatto.  And yet another case states that while the men were “mulattos,” their fathers were free and their wives were white.

There are many records, more than 1600 in total that we indexed and cataloged when writing the paper, and more have surfaced since.  In all of those records, only one contemporaneous record, the 1767 Riddle tax list, states the person was an Indian.  None, other than the 1880 census record, state that they were Portuguese.  There are many that indicate African or mixed heritage, of some description, and there are also many that don’t indicate any admixture.  Especially in later census, as the families outmarried to some extent, they were nearly uniformly listed as white.  Still, this group of people looked “different” enough from their neighbors to be labeled with the derisive name of Melungeon.

While this group, based on mitochondrial DNA testing, did initially marry European women, generations of intermarriage would have caused the entire group to be darker than the nonadmixed European population in the 1700s and 1800s.  By this time, neither they nor their neighbors were sure what they were, so they claimed Portuguese and Indian.  No one claimed to have black ancestors, in fact, most denied it vehemently.  By this time, so many generations had passed that they may not have known the whole truth, and there is indeed evidence of two Indian lines within the Melungeon community.

In light of these records, the DNA results should not have been as surprising as they were.  However, this body of research had never been analyzed as a whole before.

Since the original paper was published, four additional paternal lines documented as Melungeon but without DNA representation/confirmation in the original paper have tested, and all four of them, Nichols, Perkins, Shoemake/Shumach and Bolin/Bolton carry haplogroup E1b1a.  They are not matches to each other or other Melungeon paternal lines, so it’s not a matter of undocumented adoptions within a community.

The DNA project administrators certainly welcome additional participants who descend from the Melungeon families.  Y-line DNA requires a male who descends from a patriarch via all males, given that males pass their Y chromosome to only sons.

There may indeed be Native American lines yet undiscovered within the female or ancestral lines, and we are actively seeking people descended from the wives of these Melungeon families through all women. Mitochondrial DNA, which tests the maternal line, is passed to both genders of children, but only females pass it on.  So to represent your Melungeon maternal ancestor, you must descend from her through all females, but you yourself can be either male or female.

While the primary focus is still to document the various direct family lines utilizing Y-line and mitochondrial DNA, the advent of autosomal testing has opened the door for other Melungeon descendants to test as well.  In fact, the project administrators have organized a separate project for all descendants who have taken the autosomal Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA called the Melungeon Families project.

The list of eligible Melungeon surnames is Bell, Bolton, Bowling, Bolin, Bowlin, Breedlove, Bunch, Collins, Denham, Gibson, Gipson, Goins, Goodman, Minor, Moore, Menley, Morning, Mullins, Nichols, Perkins, Riddle, Sizemore, Shumake, Sullivan, Trent and Williams.  For specifics about the paternal lines, patriarchs and where these families are historically located, please refer to the paper.

Furthermore, anyone with documented proof of additional Melungeon families or surnames is encouraged to provide that as well.  Surnames are only added to the list with proof that the family was referenced as Melungeon from a documented historical record or is ancestral to a documented Melungeon family.  For example, the Sizemore family was never directly referred to as Melungeon in documented sources, but Aggy Sizemore (haplogroup H/European), daughter of George Sizemore (haplogroup Q/Native) married Zachariah Minor (haplogroup E1b1a/African).  The Minor family is one of the Melungeon family names.  So while Sizemore itself is not Melungeon, it is certainly an ancestral name to the Melungeon group.

For more information, read Jack Goins’ article, Written Records Agree with Melungeon DNA Results.

Black, White or Red – Changing Colors

henry finding your roots

The Root recently published the article, “Did My White Ancestor Become Black?”, written by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Eileen Pironti.  We all know who Henry is from his PBS Series, Finding Your Roots.

America is the great mixing bowl of the world, with Native American, European and African people living in very close proximity for the past 400 years.  Needless to say, on the subject of admixture and race, things are not always what they seem.

Henry Gates sums it up quite well in his article, regardless of what your ancestor looked like, or your family looks like today, “the only way to ascertain the ethnic mixture of your own ancestry is to take an admixture test from Family Tree DNA, 23andMe or Ancestry.com.”

Interestingly enough, in an earlier issue of The Root, Henry talks about how black are Black Americans.

In that article, Henry provides this information.

* According to Ancestry.com, the average African American is 65 percent sub-Saharan African, 29 percent European and 2 percent Native American.

* According to 23andme.com, the average African American is 75 percent sub-Saharan African, 22 percent European and only 0.6 percent Native American.

* According to Family Tree DNA.com, the average African American is 72.95 percent sub-Saharan African, 22.83 percent European and 1.7 percent Native American.

* According to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the average African American is 80 percent sub-Saharan African, 19 percent European and 1 percent Native American.

The message is, of course, that you never know.  Jack Goins, Hawkins County, Tennessee archivist,  is the perfect example.  Jack is the patriarch of Melungeon research.  His Goins family was Melungeon, from Hawkins County, Tennessee.  Jack founded the Melungeon DNA projects several years ago which resulted in a paper, co-authored by Jack (along with me, Janet Lewis Crain and Penny Ferguson), cited by Henry Louis Gates in his above article along with an associated NPR interview, titled “Melungeons, A Multiethnic Population.”

jack goins melungeon

Jack, shown above with the photo of his Melungeon ancestors, looks white today.  His family claimed both Portuguese and Indian heritage.  His ancestors and family members in the 1840s were prosecuted for voting, given that they were “people of color.”

But Jack’s Y DNA, providing us with his paternal link to his Goins male lineage, is African.  No one was more shocked at this information than Jack.  Jack’s autosomal DNA testing confirms his African heritage, along with lots of European and a smidgen of Native in some tests.

When in doubt, test your DNA and that of selected relatives to document your various lines, creating your own DNA pedigree chart.  For a broad spectrum picture of your DNA and ethnicity across of all of your heritage, autosomal DNA testing is the way to go.  Without all of these tools, neither Jack nor Henry would ever have known their own personal truth.

Citizen Science Strikes Again – This Time in Cameroon

Last November at the Family Tree DNA Conference, Bonnie Schrack was the citizen scientist member of the team that broke the hugely exciting news about the new root of the human family tree, known as haplogroup A00.  This discovery pushed the advent of humanity back from about 200,000 years to 338,000 years.

TOSHIBA Exif JPEG

That discovery, while exciting, was only the tip of the iceberg.  There is a lot more to be learned.  The original DNA sample matched the DNA of the Mbo people, and Bonnie, working with a graduate student, has found an opportunity to collect 100 new DNA samples from among the Mbo, in Cameroon.  But rather than me tell you about it, let’s let Bonnie speak for herself.  I received information from Bonnie over the weekend and today, she made a public announcement, as follows:

Dear friends and fellow enthusiasts,

I have an exciting announcement to share with you.  Until now, we as genetic genealogists and researchers of deep ancestry have always been dependent on the field research carried out by professional, academic population geneticists, whose priorities and interests have been different from ours.  They were the only ones with access to the grant funding necessary to finance such projects.

It’s a new day now — the times they are a-changin’.  “Crowdfunding” is one of the hottest new developments in the online world, and with good reason.  Now, we the people can launch all kinds of projects, and we can decide what we want to support with our own funds.

Today we go live with our crowdfunding page for the first grassroots, citizen science organized project to collect DNA samples in the field, in Cameroon!   We’re using the Microryza website, which is devoted to crowdfunding science research.  Here’s the link:

http://microryza.com/projects/y-dna-a00-and-the-peoples-of-cameroon-in-search-of-the-homeland

OR

http://bit.ly/13Z3et8

Many of you heard about our discovery of the A00 haplogroup, the world’s earliest-branching Y-chromosome lineage.  It was found in a WTY [Walk the Y test] of the Perrys, an African-American family with an extremely unusual and unique haplotype, and then we found a few haplotypes matching them from members of two African ethnic groups, the Mbo and the Bangwa, who are neighbors in Southwest Cameroon.  A few tiny bits of Mbo DNA were shared with Dr. Michael Hammer, and sequenced by his lab and Thomas Krahn at FTDNA. The SNPs confirmed that they belonged to the same haplogroup as the Perry family.

Calculations by Dr. Fernando Mendez, and others in our community, have placed the branching age of this lineage at anywhere from 200,000 to 338,000 years ago —  at the dawn of modern humans’ emergence, or before.  And so little is known about it!  How far does it extend from those few Mbo and Bangwa families, and can it be found in other peoples?  Is A00 a remnant of the earliest, indigenous hunting and gathering peoples of Africa, and if so, when and where were they assimilated into other peoples, who are now settled farmers (though they still hunt)?

For the first time since A00 has been known to exist, a young Cameroonian scholar, Matthew Fomine Forka Leypey, a member of the Mbo ethnic group, will visit the villages known to harbor significant numbers of A00 members, sample there, and collect information on the families.  How do we know which villages have A00?   Because Matthew collected the original Mbo samples, and over 2000 other DNA samples from all over Cameroon, as part of his dissertation research!  His data indicate that the Mbo and Bangwa are only two of a number of peoples who have A00 among them.  About a dozen other ethnic groups include A00 members, including some Pygmies!  Those samples, though, are no longer available to us.

Now it’s time to gather our own samples.  We have a series of five field trips planned, to gather samples of diverse peoples in Western, Southern and Eastern Cameroon.  Our analysis will include some special areas of knowledge from Matthew’s studies, such as how different peoples support themselves within forest and grasslands ecologies, and the effects of polygamy vs. monogamy in patterns of populations’ Y-chromosome DNA.

In the past, it has always been thought necessary to make DNA donors anonymous when they participate in scientific studies.  In this project, however, we’ll be asking for the donors’ names, for several reasons:

1. We want to give them the possibility of receiving their test results, if they are interested
2. We want there to be a future possibility of families who match them, such as African Americans, to know their matches, if they opt in
3. We hope to gather a second sample (saliva) from one or more donors, in order to have a full Y genome sequence done
4. We hope to correlate the haplogroups and haplotypes we find with families of different known histories, such as royal lineages, traditional religious office-holders, and those that are known to have had ancestors held as slaves by local rulers.

Of course, their names will not be made public except, should they decide to participate and future funding allows it, to their individual DNA matches.

This is a kind of research, combining genealogy with population genetics, that academics rarely undertake, but which has been occasionally done in papers such as this one by one of the co-authors of our last paper, Dr. Krishna Veeramah:
Sex-Specific Genetic Data Support One of Two Alternative Versions of the Foundation of the Ruling Dynasty of the Nso in Cameroon

We have four weeks to raise the $2500 needed to launch our first field trip in Cameroon.  Our deadline is August 19th.  Then Matthew will set out for the remote mountain villages where he was raised.  We look forward to bringing you all along on this great adventure.

In addition, apart from the appeal for fieldwork support per se, we’re looking for a few generous individuals who’ll help us obtain a decent (can be used) laptop and a digital camera for Matthew, who’s a very low-income grad student.  We’re also looking for a trustworthy person flying to Cameroon who can take these along, saving us the exorbitant shipping fees. Please write to me if you have any leads.

In the near future, the next fundraising campaign will ask for your support for the DNA extraction and the screening of our first set of samples for A00.  Stay tuned!  Please visit and “like” our page on Facebook:
https://www.facebook.com/A00.Cameroon.Project

Looking forward to seeing you, with gratitude for your support,

Bonnie Schrack

Products of The Motherland

obama at door of no return

This week, President Barack Obama paid a visit to Senegal, the stepping off point for slavery, for slaves, their last step on African soil on their way to the New World, wherever that was destined to be.  It was an unspeakable journey, one they didn’t want to make but slaves had no choice in the matter.  The iconic “Door of No Return,” with President and First Lady Obama above, has come to symbolize that step, not just for the thousands of slaves who stepped through that particular door, but for all of those who stepped through any door of slavery.

President Obama is not the first President to visit this powerful location.  He was preceded by both Bill Clinton and George W. Bush.  Reporter April Ryan, herself a descendant of slaves, accompanied all three Presidents.   She talks candidly about this emotional experience and how this visit was different.

The New York Daily News carries a series of poignant pictures of the visit.

April Ryan said it…”We are all products of the Motherland.”  Many of us descend from enslaved ancestors, but ultimately, all of us descend from Africa.  It’s only a matter of how long ago.  She is right, we are all products of the Motherland, as illustrated by these human population genetic clan migration maps provided by Family Tree DNA.  These show haplogroup R, the most prevalent European male haplogroup, haplogroup H the most prevalent female European haplogroup and haplogroup Q, the most common male Native American haplogroup.  The path for all of us began in Africa, our Motherland.

hap r migration map

hap h migration map

hap q migration map

Family Tree DNA Research Center Facilitates Discovery of Ancient Root to Y Tree

The genetic genealogy community has been abuzz for months now with the discovery of the new Root of the Y tree.  First announced last fall at the conference for DNA administrators hosted by Family Tree DNA, this discovery has literally changed the landscape of early genetic genealogy and our understanding of the timeframe of the origins of mankind.  While it doesn’t make much difference in genetic genealogy in the past few generations, since the adoption of surnames, it certainly makes a difference to all of us in terms of our ancestors and where we came from – our origins.  After all, the only difference between current genetic genealogy and the journey of mankind is a matter of generations – and all of our ancestors were there, and survived to reproduce, or we wouldn’t be here.

One of the important aspects of this discovery is the collaboration of citizen scientists with academic institutions and corporations.  In this case, the citizen scientist was Bonnie Schrack, a volunteer haplogroup project administrator, Dr. Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona, National Geographic’s Genographic Project, and Drs. Thomas Krahn and Astrid Krahn, both with the Gene by Gene Genomics Research Center.  Without any one of these players, and Family Tree DNA’s support of projects, this discovery would not have been made.  This discovery of the “new root” legitimizes citizen science in the field of genetic genealogy and ushers in a new day in scientific research in which crowd sourced samples, in this case, through Family Tree DNA projects, provide clues and resources for important scientific discoveries.

Today Gene by Gene released a press release about the discovery of the new root.  In conjunction, Family Tree DNA has lowered their Y DNA test price to $39 for the introductory 12 marker panel for the month of March, hoping to attract new participants and to eliminate price as a factor.  On April 1, the price will increase to $49, still a 50% discount from the previous $99.  Who knows where that next discovery lies.  Could it be in your DNA?

Family Tree DNA’s Genomics Research Center Facilitates Discovery of Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree

HOUSTON, March 26, 2013 /PRNewswire/   — Gene By Gene, Ltd., the Houston-based   genomics and genetics testing company, announced that a unique DNA sample submitted via National Geographic’s Genographic Project to its genetic genealogy subsidiary, Family Tree DNA, led to the discovery that the most recent common ancestor for the Y chromosome lineage tree is potentially as old as 338,000 years.  This new information indicates that the last common ancestor of all modern Y chromosomes is 70 percent older than previously thought.

The surprising findings were published in the report “An African American Paternal Lineage Adds an Extremely Ancient Root to the Human Y Chromosome Phylogenetic Tree” in The   American Journal of Human Genetics earlier this month.  The study was conducted by a team of top research scientists, including lead scientist Dr. Michael F. Hammer of   the University of Arizona, who currently serves on Gene By Gene’s advisory board, and two of the company’s staff scientists, Drs.Thomas and Astrid-Maria Krahn.

The DNA sample had originally been submitted to National Geographic’s Genographic Project, the world’s largest “citizen science” genetic research effort with more than 500,000 public participants to date, and was later transferred to Family Tree DNA’s database for genealogical research.  Once in Family Tree DNA’s database, long-time project administrator Bonnie Schrack noticed that the sample was very unique and advocated for further testing to be done.

“This whole discovery began, really, with a citizen scientist – someone very similar to our many customers who are interested in learning more about their family roots using one of our genealogy products,” said Gene By Gene President Bennett Greenspan.  “While reviewing samples in our database, she recognized that this specific sample was unique and  brought it to the attention of our scientists to do further testing.  The results were astounding and show the value of individuals undergoing DNA testing so that we can continue to grow our databases and discover additional critical information about human origins and evolution.”

The discovery took place at Family Tree DNA’s Genomic Research Center, a CLIA registered lab in Houston which has processed more than 5 million discrete DNA tests from more than 700,000 individuals and organizations, including participants in the Genographic Project.  Drs. Thomas and Astrid-Maria Krahn of Family Tree DNA conducted the company’s Walk-Through-Y test on the sample and during the scoring process, quickly realized the unique nature of the sample, given the vast number of mutations.  Following their initial findings, Dr. Hammer and others joined to conduct a formal study, sequencing ~240 kb of the chromosome sample to identify private, derived mutations on this lineage, which has been named A00.

“Our findings indicate that the last common Y chromosome ancestor may have lived long before the first anatomically modern humans appeared in Africa about 195,000 years ago,” said Dr. Michael Hammer.  “Furthermore, the sample, which came from an African American man living in South Carolina, matched Y chromosome DNA of males from a very small area in western Cameroon, indicating that the lineage is extremely rare in Africa today, and its presence in the US is likely due to the Atlantic slave trade.  This is a huge discovery for our field and shows the critical role direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies can play in science; this might not have been known otherwise.”

Family Tree DNA recently dramatically reduced the price of its basic Y-DNA test by approximately 50%.  By offering the lowest-cost DNA test available on the market today, Gene By Gene and Family Tree DNA are working to eliminate cost as a barrier to individuals introducing themselves to personal genetic and genomic research.  They hope that expanding the pool of DNA samples in their database will lead to future important scientific discoveries.

About Gene By Gene, Ltd. 
Founded in 2000, Gene By Gene, Ltd. provides reliable DNA testing to a wide range of consumer and institutional customers through its four divisions focusing on ancestry, health, research and paternity.  Gene By Gene provides DNA tests through its Family Tree DNA division, which pioneered the concept of direct-to-consumer testing in the field of genetic genealogy more than a decade ago.  Gene by Gene is CLIA registered and through its clinical-health division DNA Traits offers regulated diagnostic  tests.  DNA DTC is the Research Use Only (RUO) division serving both direct-to-consumer and institutional clients   worldwide.  Gene By Gene offers AABB certified relationship tests through its paternity testing division, DNA Findings. The privately held company is headquartered in Houston, which is also home to its state-of-the-art Genomics Research Center.

SOURCE Gene By Gene, Ltd.

The Autosomal Me – Rooting Around in the Weeds Using Third Party Tools

This is Part 5 of a series.

Part 1 was “The Autosomal Me – Unraveling Minority Admixture” and Part 2 was “The Autosomal Me – The Ancestors Speak.”  Part 1 discussed the technique we are going to use to unravel minority ancestry, and why it works.  Part two gave an example of the power of fragmented chromosomal mapping and the beauty of the results.  Part 3, “The Autosomal Me – Who Am I?,” reviewed using our pedigree charts to gauge expected results and how autosomal results are put into population buckets.  Part 4, “The Autosomal Me – Testing Company Results,” shows what to expect from all of the major testing companies, past and present, along with Dr. Doug McDonald’s analysis.

In this segment, Part 5, we’re going to look at various third party tools and what they can do for our search for minority admixture.  We will use the download files from either 23andMe and Family Tree DNA and utilize third party tools to analyze the raw data.  We’ll see how third party developers put those puzzle pieces together, if the results are consistent and what they tell us.

The Weeds

When dealing with testing companies, particularly any individual source (as opposed to multiple testing company results, as I have done), minority admixture, especially less than 1% may not be successfully recognized.  One percent equates to between 6 and 7 generations or about to the 1800 threshold in time.  However the history of both African and Native admixture in colonial America goes back another 200 years to the Jamestown era.

The social history in the US means that there are many people looking for this admixed heritage as long ago as 1609 when Jamestown was established and the first European/Native marriages took place (although there were “blonde Indians” reported by Jamestown settlers).  In round numbers, that’s about 400 years or between 13 and 16 generations.  Of course, a minority ancestor drops below the 1% threshold between 7 and 8 generations (with the first generation being the person tested) and by the time you get to the 12th generation, you’re at .048%.  At this level, Bennett Greenspan says we’re “rooting around in the weeds,” and he’s right.

However, rooting around in the weeds for those dreaded IBS (Identical by State) segments in genealogy is exactly what we need when looking for small amounts of minority admixture.  What’s an IBS segment you ask?  It’s a segment that is typically too small to be counted as an IBD, or identical by descent, segment.  IBS means that you’re from a common population if you match someone with a very small segment, not necessarily that you share a common ancestor within the past several generations.  But how to you tell if a small segment is IBS or IBD?

There is no absolute line in the sand, but often segments smaller than 7cM (centimorgans) or 700 SNPS (some say 5cM and 500 SNPs) fall into the IBS category.  This has caused some researchers to discard all segments of this size because they can’t tell the difference.  That’s unfortunate, because clearly some of these segments are IBD and the IBS segments can be useful too.

When looking for minority admixture in two people, both of them having these small segments in the same location can provide meaningful information, and can confirm minority heritage.  Said another way, if two people have less than 1% Native heritage, both share a common ancestor, and both carry part of their “less than 1%” on the same segment….one might say it’s not likely to be coincidence.  Identifying the common segments of your common ancestor can lead to identifying the specific family line those segments came from, especially if you match others as well.  This is in essence what Minority Admixture Mapping, or MAP, does.  It uses these techniques to look for patterns in these small fragmented pieces that, when taken together, indicate minority heritage.  Having said that, some IBS segments will indeed, be simply that, because you share the same base population, but some will be IBD, or more current in time.  With the MAP technique, we’re sorting through ways to utilize these small segments, whether they are IBS or IBD.

Using the tools, MDLP, Eurogenes, Dodecad and HarrappaWorld at GedMatch allows us to “root around in the weeds,” to quote Bennett, and find those all-important small IBS/IBD segments that connect us to a particular ethnicity and ultimately, to other relatives who carry these same segments in the same locations.

In general, using these this type of DNA is called BGA, or Biogeographical Ancestry where we use SNPs of autosomal DNA called AIMs, Ancestry Informative Markers.  A SNP is a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism, or a mutation that happened in one specific location on a gene.  AIMs are generally SNPs, not clusters of markers, found at different frequencies in different populations.  We combine all we know about them scientifically with information about population frequencies and then draw inferences about where our ancestors came from based on that information.  So a SNP that is useful in determining ancestry is called an AIM.

These SNPs, or AIMs, are the foundation for these BGA tools that we will be using to sort through small segments of minority admixture.  So this is a building block process.  Scientists identify SNPs found in different populations at different frequencies and identify them as such, then scientists and genetic genealogists create BGA tools that use and combine SNPs/AIMs to suggest populations and ethnicities for those who carry them.  Using these tools, majority ancestry is easy to discern.  We’re going to use those tools to look at groups of SNPs/AIMs clustered in small, fragmented IBS or IBD segments to do Minority Admixture Mapping (MAP) to confirm our minority admixture and to identify our minority admixed lines, families and perhaps even (in time) our original minority ancestor.

I bet you thought I couldn’t fit all of those acronyms in one paragraph, but I did:)  It is a bit like alphabet soup, but when you understand that this is a building process, it’s much easier to grasp as a whole.

Having at least one parents DNA makes this process much easier, because you can immediately tell if your other parent, by inferrence or process of elimination, has contributed any of the minority ancestry, or if it’s all on one side of the tree.  Of course, that’s assuming your parents aren’t related to each other.  There’s a test for that too at GedMatch.  If you don’t have one parent available, you can “make do” with aunts, uncles and cousins, but it’s a much more tedious process.

Third Party Tools

To use any of these BGA tools, you’ll need to download your results from either 23andMe, Family Tree DNA or National Geographic.  Currently at GedMatch, the only supported formats are 23andMe or Family Tree DNA, because the National Geographic test is so new.  I used my Family Finder (Illumina Build 36) raw data file.

To download your results from 23andMe, sign on to your account, then click on this link and it will take you to the area to download your results.

https://www.23andme.com/you/explorer/

Save the file and do not open it as the act of opening it sometimes causes corruption and you will have a hard time uploading the file.  If the upload fails, download a new copy and start over.  If you have an older copy on your computer, it’s always a good idea to use a fresh copy to incorporate any changes made by the vendor since your last file download.

To download your results from Family Tree DNA, sign on to your personal page, click on the Family Finder tab and then on “Download Raw Data.”  As I write this, Family Tree DNA is in the midst of a conversion from Build 36 to Build 37 for their autosomal files (in order to facilitate the integration of 23andMe results), so you may need to be a bit patient while this process completes.  Files may not be available for download at some points.  You certainly don’t want to mix comparisons, meaning using one build 36 and one build 37 file for comparison.

If you’re following this process yourself with your own data, please read all the way through this posting before starting your own processing.

Now, let’s look at the third party tools.

Stanford University

This tool is available at Stanford University.  Scientists have collaborated to provide this service and I think it’s quite interesting.  This tool is not compatible with any browser except Chrome and it requires a download of your autosomal data in a .txt file.  If it can’t load your file, the loading task simply never completes.  For me, that meant it wasn’t a .txt file I was trying to load.

http://esquilax.stanford.edu/

Load your file and choose Ancestry, then Paintings, then Hap Map 3 (experimental), then Paint my Chromosomes.

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Their legend, above, translates to the regions, below.

ASW – African ancestry in Southwest USA

CHD – Chinese in Metropolitan Denver, Colorado

GIH – Gujarati Indians in Houston, Texas

LWK – Luhya in Webuye, Kenya

MEX – Mexican Ancestry in Los Angeles

TSI – Toscani in Italia

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Unfortunately, this isn’t terribly useful.  Hap Map 3 utilizes additional regions, including Utah, but this tool doesn’t seem to be mapping them, so my closest match region is Italy, which is midleading since none of my family was from Italy.  Hap Map 2 is also an option which does include the Utah population, but it’s not as up to date otherwise as Hap Map 3.

David Pike has figured out how to tweak these settings some.  You can read about it at this link:  https://www.23andme.com/you/community/thread/8062/.  David’s posting on June 20th shows what he did.  However, compared to the other tools available, I find this a poor choice and did not spend a lot of time trying to work with it.

However, a second feature that they provide is fun.

Stanford provides a Neanderthal tool that’s a little different than the Nat Geo or 23andMe ones.  Click on Explore, Neanderthal, Look Up Exercise.  Then enter your primary ethnicity and click on Look Up Exercise again.

Of a possible 84 Neanderthal alleles, I have 9, partially displayed below.

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GedMatch

www.Gedmatch.com is a complimentary (voluntary contribution) site created by two genetic genealogists that includes several autosomal analysis tools.  One of the areas of this site is “Admix Tools.”  On that page one finds several private or proprietary tools, some written by genetic genealogists, some by researchers, and all free.  Let’s take a look at each one and their results.  If you want to see any of the results more closely than the photos here allow, you can run each of the comparisons using kit F6656 (mine) as the first kit and kit F9141 (my mother) as the second kit.

Each of these tools offers the same functionality, as follows.

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We will be utilizing 4 of these functions for each tool.

  • Admixture Proportions
  • Admixture Proportions by Chromosome
  • Chromosome Painting
  • Paint Differences between 2 kits, 1 chromosome

We select from the tools as follows:

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Let’s take a look at what the tools provide.

MDLP World 22

The MDLP software is sponsored by two genetic genealogists.  You can read more about the project at http://magnusducatus.blogspot.com/ and http://magnusducatus.blogspot.com/2012/09/behind-curtains-mdlp-world-22-showcase.html.

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MDLP shows several populations.  I was interested to see if my mother also shared the African percentage.  Interestingly, mother does have a South African segment, but it’s .12, so less than mine.  Therefore, I would have obtained part of my African heritage from my father.  She also has three different categories of Native American heritage, compared to my one.  She carried a total of 1.92% and I carry .58%.  Otherwise, our results are very similar.

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The next feature is ethnicity mapping by chromosome.  While the display is too large to see well it’s interesting to note that indeed, both Native American and African were detected on several chromosomes, not just on chromosomes 1 and 2 as reported by 23andMe and Dr. McDonald.  Note that DeCode Genetics showed “East Asian” admixture on several chromosomes.

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Here’s a portion of the above chart that you can actually see.  The highlighted blue regions are your major ethnic regions.

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Another feature is chromosome painting, shown below.  This shows the first part of my chromosomes 1 and 2 painted by ethnic/regional breakdown.  The legend for each tool is different and above their graph.

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These tools also provide the ability to compare one chromosome between two people.  On the graph below, my chromosome 1 is on the top, and my mother’s is second, with the third band being our common painting.  The black represents non-shared regions, meaning those contributed to me by my father.  Unfortunately, North American Native American is dark grey, sometimes difficult to distinguish from black.

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The graph below shows that while I do share a large piece of Chromosome 1’s Native region (about 160-180mb) with my mother, there are also segments, 169-170 for example, where I have Native genes that she does not, indicating Native heritage in this location from my father’s side.

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Eurogenes K9

Eurogenes was created by another genetic genealogist.  You can read more about it at http://bga101.blogspot.com.au/2012/04/eurogenes-admixture-utilities-at.html.

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Eurogenes calls me primarily North European with .67 Native American and no African in the percentages above, but below, on the individual chromosomes, some African does show, although not on as many chromosomes as MDLP.

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In the charts above and below, you can see that Eurogenes detected small amounts of African along with Native American.

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Notice that at about 10mb on chromosome 1, on the graph below in the top band, that the North American Indian (yellow) and the South Asian (red) are imbedded with each other.  These appear again together at the beginning of chromosome 2, shown as the second band.  This hints at how and why it’s sometimes so difficult to determine and filter Native American from Asian.  There is no line in the sand, there is a continuum between populations, the only differentiator being 10,000 to 15,000 years spent apart in which time, they, hopefully, developed enough differentiating mutations that we can tell them apart.

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On the chart below, the top band shows the chromosome painting of my chromosome, and the second band shows the chromosome 1 Native American segment (about 160-180 mb) of my mother with the third band showing both matching and non-matching regions, painted black.  Looking at the segment of chromosome 1, in the graph below, characerized as Native, we can see in mine, top row, that this is categorized as Native American (yellow), but some of the same regions below, in Moms are categorized as South Asian (red), causing a technical non-match, when in reality, It’s likely a categorization issue, not a genetic mismatch.  In future analysis, we’ll be using two methods of comparison, one called “Strong Native” that only matches Native to Native and another, the “Blended Asian” method that allows for grouping of similar ancestral types that together likely indicate a Native heritage.

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Dodecad V3

Dodecad was created by an anthropologist.  You can read more about it at http://dodecad.blogspot.com/ and http://dodecad.blogspot.com/2011/06/design-of-dodecad-v3.html.

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Dodecad, unfortunately, does not subdivide into Native American, so the Native will show here as some form of Asian.  Northwest Africa shows in the percentages above, but more detailed African heritage shows in the chromosome detail below in regions not shown above.

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Above, my chromosome painting for the first part of chromosomes 1 and 2.

Below, the comparison showing the Native segments from about 160-180mb.   My Native segment (top) compared to mother’s (middle) with the comparison of the two on the bottom for chromosome 1.

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HarappaWorld

HarappaWorld divides results into fewer population groups and is focused on Asia.  You can read more about it at http://www.harappadna.org/2012/05/diy-harappaworld/.

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In HarrappaWorld, Beringian and American appear to be equivalent to Native American.  Like Dodecad and Eurogenes, African does not show in the total percentages, but does on the individual chromosome analysis, although in smaller percentages with this application.

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Chromosome painting of my chromosomes 1 and 2 are shown below.

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The graphs below show the Native region comparison of chromosome 1 between me, top row, mother, middle row, and the third graph showing the common areas, with black representing areas where there is no match.

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For each of these tools and their results, we’ll do further analysis in a future segment of this series.

Tools Summary

Now that we’ve looked at these individual tools,  and building on the Test Results Chart created in Parts 3 and 4, let’s compare and see what information these tools add.

Test Results Chart Including Third Party Tools

Test/Company European Asian Native African Unknown
Pedigree Analysis

75%

0

~1%

0

24%

Testing Companies
Family Tree   DNA – Original

100%[1]

0

0

0

deCodeme

92%

5%

Inferred[2]

3%

deCodeme –   X

91%

6%

Inferred

3%

Dr.   McDonald

97-99%

1-3%

0.5%

0

23andMe –   Original

99%

1%

Inferred[3]

0

0

23andMe –   2012 – Standard

99.2%[4]

0

.5%

0

.3%

23andMe –   2012 – Conservative

98.7%[5]

0

.3%

0

1%

23andMe –   2012 – Speculative

99.3%[6]

0

.5%

0

.2%

Family Tree   DNA – 2012

100%[7]

Geno 2.0

79%[8]

18%

0

0

0

Ancestry

92%[9]

0

0

0

8%

Third Party Tools
MDLP

86.68%

12.55%

.58%

.17%

0

Eurogenes

94.83%

4.5%

.67%

0

0

Dodecad

85.47%

13.43%

Inferred

1.09%

0

HarrappaWorld

86.56%

12.80%

.65%

0

0

Of the various chromosomes, the breakdown is as follows. Dodecad does not break the categories in a comparable fashion to these other 3 tools, so their results are omitted in the following chart.  Please note that how geographies are categorized can make a significant difference.

Minority by Chromosome Chart

Tool/Chr MDLP Native Eurogenes Native Harrappa Native MDLP African Eurogenes African Harrappa African
1 Y Y Y N N N
2 Y Y Y Y Y N
3 N N N Y Y N
4 Y N Y N N N
5 N N N N N N
6 Y Y Y Y N N
7 N N Y N N N
8 Y Y Y Y N Y
9 Y N N Y N N
10 Y N N Y N N
11 Y N Y Y N N
12 Y N Y N N N
13 Y N Y N N N
14 Y Y Y Y N N
15 Y N N N N Y
16 Y Y Y Y N N
17 Y Y Y N N N
18 N N N N N N
19 Y Y Y Y N N
20 Y Y Y Y N N
21 Y N Y N N N
22 N N N Y Y N

From these various tools, it’s obvious that I do have some Native admixture, probably about 1%, and it’s from both parents.  I also have some African, but it looks to be an even smaller proportion that Native American.

Join me for Part 6 of this series, where we look at how to analyze and use this information.


[1] 71.5% western European, 28.4% Northeastern European

[2] Inferred that Asian is actually Native in an American with no history of Asian ancestry.

[3] No category, inferred.

[4] 78.6% Northern European, 1.8% Southern European, 18.7% Nonspecific European

[5] 54.6% Northern European, .3% Southern European, 43% Nonspecific European

[6] 91.7% Northern European, 3% Southern European, 3.3% Nonspecific European

[7] 75.18% West Europe (French and Orcadian), 24.82 Europe (Romanian, Russian, Tuscan and Finnish).  Note that my mother’s results are almost identical except the Finnish is missing from hers.

[8] 43% North Europe and 36% Mediterranean

[9] 80% British, 12% Scandinavian