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

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