29 July 2010

Autosomal Testing Helps Traditional DNA Projects

Many DNA administrators are looking at how to use new autosomal DNA (atDNA) testing products in their current projects. These projects include Y-DNA, Haplogroup, Geographic, Ethnic, and Adoption. But can they help and, if so, how?

Keep in mind the lack of resolution from current atDNA tests beyond the fifth cousin level as well as the possibility of pedigree collapse as you apply atDNA test results to various established DNA projects. See my former blogs for more details on these.

Surname (Y-DNA Based) Projects

The greatest advantage for Y-DNA projects having Family Finder testers involved is that women and men who do not carry a surname for a project can match those in the Y-DNA projects. All parties must have the Family Finder test, of course, but through atDNA testing women and the men with a different surname who cannot find a male surrogate to test can prove their connection to the Y-DNA project’s surname. It may also help those Y-DNA testers who cannot trace back to the common ancestor of their group to find new avenues for their research.

Four men in my Talley Y-DNA project recently tested with Family Finder as did four women and another male with a different surname. We knew that all had the surname Talley in their pedigrees except one woman whose male Y-DNA tester does not carry the Talley surname and he has not tested with Family Finder. This male tester matches the Talley surname, but has a known non-parental event (NPE), and does not match anyone with his surname at this time. Clearly, he is a Talley, and her testing reinforced his previous match with the Talley men.

In the first Talley group of testers, one Y-DNA tester traces his line to John Talley who died in Amelia County, Virginia. The other two men in the Y-DNA project have brick walls, but by comparing lineages with the women, they now have other counties to search.

From the second Talley group of testers, a man who carries a non-Talley surname matched a tested Talley. Their known lineage traced back to a common Talley ancestor. This confirms the Talley lineage of this man.

Thus, testing lines with an atDNA test expands the matching possibilities of a traditionally Y-DNA based project by allowing additional representatives (males without the surname and females) to participate.

Haplogroup Projects

Haplogroup projects are established for male haplogroups, female haplogroups, or maternal (mtDNA) lineages. These projects typically wish to explore the ancient history of the haplogroup and find differences within the group in order to discover new subclades. A few projects focus on the full genome sequence of the mitochrondria (Maternal Lineage Projects) and wish to determine if the members are closely enough related in genealogical time to locate a common ancestor. Family Finder testing can help in these situations.

For example, if an administrator has three identical genome results which have a new mutation not seen before, it is possibly a new subclade. However, one does not want to declare a new subclade based on what could be a genealogically (100 to 200 years) related group. By testing the autosomal lines through Family Finder the administrator can have more confidence these lines are not closely related before considering a new sublcade.

For those mtDNA projects that focus on the full genome sequence, administrators may wish to determine the closeness of the members to determine if the common ancestor could be found within genealogical time. For example, if two people share a mitochondria DNA (mtDNA) line, by taking the Family Finder test they may refine the time to common ancestor calculations. The match could be a 2nd or 4th cousin, thus making the connection since 1800.

My haplogroup is U5a1a1, and in my project by that name, ten of us match on the full genome sequence (entire mtDNA). Although we shared our lineages and many of us help the others, we have not been able to determine a common ancestor within genealogical time so far. Project members have begun testing with Family Finder to see if recent relationships are indicated. If Family Finder does not give us matches within our group, we know that the common ancestor may be prior to the fourth great-grandparents or too far back for genealogical purposes. However, it is possible that some group members may find matches in Family Finder even if they are not on the all female line. This could help testers research in new areas which could lead to finding the common ancestor. In time, as more people test both the full mtDNA and Family Finder, the likelihood increases that a common ancestor will be found within our group for some of the matches.

Geographic Projects

A Geographic Project focuses on location, and as it is often difficult for testers to find connections along the Y-DNA lineage or the mtDNA lines, many testers turn to this type of project hoping to find some additional clues. They know their family lived in the area and often there were name changes that are not apparent or easy to determine. The Family Finder test can help.

As many families live in the same region for years, they may be related along other lines of the pedigree. Having the geographical participants match each other using the Family Finder test, provides more information on related families within the geographic region.

Geographic projects have testers with a variety of surnames. Scotland, Ireland, Portugal, and Wales are a few countries with cultures that have unique surname patterns. Following the genealogy of these groups can be very difficult of not impossible, but by testing with Family Finder, more recent matches can be found and matches with others in the project. For example, if two men with a 67/67 match have different surnames they could match with Family Finder as 3rd cousins. This would allow them to look at 3rd gr-grandfather for their common ancestor.

Ethnic Projects

Some ethnic projects can have various levels of cousinship if the ethnic community married within their group based on social or ethnic norms, such as the Jewish, Mennonite, or Native American populations. Testing with Family Finder could help determine matches that are not apparent with other tests.

Adoption Projects

Family Finder can help locate close cousins who may have additional information for the adoptee either with a paper trail or through oral history. The matching person may have clues which can help the adoptee determine the missing pieces of the pedigree.

Numerous children were products of unwed mothers forced to give up their child by family and/or social services. In many cases both the parent and the child would like to find each other. Children often need to know their health history and many just want to know their roots. If the parents and grandparents of adopted children were encouraged to test and join the adoptees in a project, these families could be more easily reunited.

In Summary

Every way Family Finder can help projects has not been determined at this early stage. Some of the ideas presented here may not prove to be as useful as other suggestions, but as more administrators experiment, discover, and verify how this type of test can help their projects, the advantages of Family Finder will become more apparent, benefiting us all.

Family Finder can ...
1. Allow women and men with out the Y project surname to join Y-DNA Projects.
2. Help Haplogroup Projects administrators determine if those with a common haplotype are too closely related to declare a new subclade or not.
3. Determine if the time to the common ancestor for the full genome sequence in mtDNA Projects is within the 5th cousin range.
4. Assist Geographical Projects in finding connections between their members other than on the Y-DNA or mtDNA lines.
5. Assist Ethnic Projects in finding matches on autosomal lines.
6. Help adoptees find close family.
7. Help family members relocate adoptees.

If you find other ways autosomal testing helps DNA projects, contact me.

©Aulicino, 22 July 2010

08 July 2010


WOW....what a sale! I had to interrupt my series on Family Finder for this sale!!!

Family Tree DNA just posted this upgrade sale to the Administrators and current customers, and I must share it with you! This is the best upgrade sale I have seen, so if you had planned on testing more markers, this sale is for YOU!

Remember that any match you have on a
Y-DNA 12 test places your common ancestor before 600 yrs ago
Y-DNA 25 test places your common ancestor within the last 600 years
Y-DNA 37 test places your common ancestor within the last 300 years
Y-DNA 67 test places your common ancestor within the last 150-200 years

These time frames are based on an average probability and your particular family may be before or after that period. As an Administrator for several DNA projects, the best minimum test is the 37 marker, in my opinion. There are some good reasons to upgrade to the 67 marker and if money is not terribly important that would be good to do as we never know if or when another upgrade sale will happen.

Family Tree DNA's sale runs from July 8 to July 19, 2010.

Y12 to 25 Current Group Project Price $49; Sale Price $35
Y12 to 37 Current Group Project Price $99; Sale Price $69
Y12 to 67 Current Group Project Price $189; Sale Price $149
Y25 to 37 Current Group Project Price $49; Sale Price $35
Y25 to 67 Current Group Project Price $148; Sale Price $109
Y37 to 67 Current Group Project Price $99; Sale Price $79

To order, log in to your personal page and click on the SPECIAL OFFERS link in left hand navigation bar. Click on the login page below.

A credit card for your purchase constitutes a paid account, even if you don't pay the bill for a month.


copyright E. Aulicino, 8 July 2010

07 July 2010

Family Finder Testing Series: Expanding the matches; narrowing the search

Testing with the Family Finder test or other similar autosomal test can easily lead to hundreds of matches, giving us a multitude of cousins. However, with this test, the difficulty lies in finding where the common ancestor is on our pedigree chart. Although this type of testing is in its infancy, genealogists are greatly interested in increasing the number of matches, and they are scrambling to find easy ways of locating the common ancestor. Over time, more methods may develop, but for now, these can help.

Expanding the number of matches

As genealogists, we know that the more people you contact, the more likely you are to find someone with the information you are missing. The more cousins you match, the greater the possibility of adding more generations to your lineage. However, there are only two ways to expand the number of matches you have; either have people in your family test or wait for matches to appear on your website. The greater advantage is to have family members test.

Since each person inherits a different mix of DNA from their ancestors and since a minimum length of DNA is required to determine a match, testing more family members will result in more cousin matches. Many of your cousins may have already tested, but as you did not inherit enough of the same DNA segment, you will not match them. Your relatives may, however.

All of us are not fortunate enough to have the following list of relatives to test, but for each that you can test you are more likely to find additional matches. Every family member has inherited different DNA from the ancestors and will, therefore, match other testers.

· Parents and grandparents.
· Siblings of the parents and grandparents.
· Your siblings.
· First, second, and third cousins.

Not only will the above list increase the number of matches you can have on Family Finder, but testing these relatives will also help you more easily locate the common ancestor between you and your match.

Narrowing the search for the common ancestor

Finding a common ancestor given all the thousands of names we may have in our database can be daunting. Where do you begin? How can the hunt be narrowed to something manageable?

After determining the time period or range of ancestors where you are most likely to match your new cousin as outlined in the previous article Sharing Your Genealogy Research, you may wish to take an additional approach to reduce the amount of searching required in order to find that common ancestor. As each of us inherits different lengths of DNA segments from our ancestors, testing multiple family members can help you focus on which lineages you may have in common with a match. Although nothing is fool-proof, these ideas that can help you determine where to begin looking and improve your success rate for finding the common ancestor.

Testing Older Generations

Testing older generations is helpful because it narrows your search to fewer branches of your tree. When you and a grandparent match the same person you narrow your genealogical search to that grandparent’s line.

When your parents and grandparents are not available you may also test their siblings. Unlike testing your direct line though, you cannot use an aunt, uncle, great aunt, or great uncle to rule out a line. This is because they may have inherited different DNA from their parents.

Testing the older generations means you can find matches farther back on your lines as parents and grandparents have longer segments of ancestral DNA. A match with a grandparent will help you focus on particular lines to find the common ancestor. Again, these family members would have longer links than you would have for older generations, and the siblings would have inherited different mixes of the ancestors’ DNA, giving you other matches.

Testing Cousins

Testing cousins is a way to clarify which side of your family you share with your match. Unlike testing older generations it cannot be used to exclude a line, however. When you match someone, but a tested cousin does not, you may or may not be able to rule out that line for reasons beyond the scope of this article, but know that if your match matches a cousin you can narrow your search to that those related lines.

Testing first cousins on your father’s line as well as your mother’s line could determine which half of your lineage is related to your match. If your match shares a DNA segment with your maternal cousin, then all three of you share ancestry from your maternal line.

If you can only test one of the cousins, for example a son of your father’s brother, you can still benefit. If that cousin, you, and your match share the same DNA segment in the same location on the same chromosome, then the common ancestor is on your father’s line.

Again, the opposite is not always true. If your match does not have the same DNA segment with your paternal cousin, the possibility is that either the common ancestor is on your maternal side or your paternal cousin did not inherit enough DNA to be above the minimum amount needed to be declared a cousin. This can happen if the match is more distant than a first or second cousin. In these cases, the match could actually be on either parent’s line. Testing additional cousins may help as other cousins could have inherited enough of the DNA from that ancestor.

Testing second and third cousins is greatly beneficial as these relatives give you DNA segments you may not have. You can also narrow your search based on how those cousins are related to you.

In summary

1. Test older generations to include or exclude the main branches of your tree.
2. Test cousins on your paternal and maternal sides to determine which half of your lineage could hold the common ancestor.
3. Remember that if a relative does not match your matches, it means they did not inherit a long enough segment of the common ancestor’s DNA.

In posting my success stories for DNA testing on this blog and in discussions with others I know who have tested with Family Finder, I have found cousins who do not match me on my autosomal test. As stated, this is because both of us did not inherit enough of the same DNA segment. We have the same lineages and those lineages have been confirmed as accurate since other cousins did match me on those lines. In this way, autosomal testing gives great confidence to our genealogical paper trails as well as help us find new cousins with whom to research.

copyright: E. Aulicino, July 2010
Thank you R.