25 July 2012

National Geographic Announces New DNA Test

Geno 2.0:  A Step Forward to the Past

Now that the Genetic Genealogy World has grown accustomed to the recent autosomal DNA testing from such companies as Family Tree DNA and 23andMe, along comes another exciting test from The National Geographic Society.

Ever exploring our past, The National Geographic Society established the Genographic Project  in April 2005 which tested indigenous populations around the world to gain more knowledge about human migration.  This study allowed the general public to become a part of that scientific research, and it created the Legacy Fund to give back to the indigenous populations for their assistance.  These three core components will continue as National Genographic takes us into the next arena of DNA testing.

Building on its world-wide testing, the Genographic Project introduces the Geno 2.0 Test which will revolutionize what we know currently regarding our ancient ancestors.

Geno 2.0 Chip
Since “off-the-shelf” chips were not adequate for Geno 2.0, Genographic designed their own chip. The autosomal and X-Chromosome SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism*) were selected by Eran Elhaik, PhD at John Hopkins, who picked Ancestry Informative Markers (AIMs) from approximately 450 worldwide population groups. Medical and trait SNPs were omitted. This means you cannot determine such characterizes as hair color or diseases from this test, thus not allowing medical or political studies of the results.  

Over 130,000 X-DNA and Autosomal DNA SNPs were collected to study gene flow between hominids and modern humans.  SNPs from hominids used to design the GenoChip included Paleo-Eskimo Saqqaq, Aboriginal Australian, Neanderthal, Denisovan, and Chimpanzee.

As AIMs show differences in allele frequencies across population groups, and as these markers are honed over time, the ability to distinguish between populations will be increasingly more detailed.

Autosomal and X-DNA
Geno 2.0 uses 130,000 autosomal and X-chromosomal SNPs including 30,000 SNPs from regions of interbreeding between extinct hominids and modern humans.  This Geno 2.0 test compares your result with several of these populations including the Neanderthals and the Denisovan.

Recently, DNA evidence has shown that modern humans inbred with the Neanderthal who populated Western Eurasia. Neanderthal DNA is 99.7 percent identical to humans, and scientists believe that many humans may have inherited 1-4% of their DNA from Neanderthals.  Scientists also believe some modern humans inbred with the Denisovans who populated Eastern Eurasia.  It is thought that islanders in Papua New Guinea may be distant cousins of the Denisovan.  With the discovery in 2008 of a 40,000-year-old finger bone found in Siberian Russia’s Denisova cave of a young girl, referred to as X-Woman, and a tooth of a Denisovan adult, the entire Denisovan genome has been extracted. 

Besides the X-DNA and autosomal DNA, the Geno 2.0 test uses an extensive number of SNP markers from Mitochondria DNA and Y-DNA which also will improve the scientific geographic origins of our ancient ancestry by delineating between populations and narrowing the geographic areas where our ancient ancestors were located. This means breaking down a European haplogroup into smaller locations, a wonderful advantage for studying your ancient ancestry and its migration.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
Geno 2.0 will use the new Phylogentic Tree** from Dr. Doron Behar’s paper A Uniquely Anthropological Approach to Human Origins and Dispersals. Dr. Behar and his colleagues have revolutionized the mtDNA Phylogentic tree so that instead of comparing your mtDNA to the rCRS (Revised Cambridge Reference Sequince), the new RSRS (Reconstructed Sapiens Reference Sequence) will be implemented. The RSRS is a proposed system comparing mitochondrial markers which includes the known Neanderthal sequences. This system gives a more accurate view in that haplogroups closer to our origins will have fewer mutations than those haplogroups which are more recent, thus displaying the haplogroups in a better time-oriented sequence.  In the past the rCRS showed fewer mutations for Haplogroup H (the CRS contributor’s haplogroup) with many for haplogroups that are more ancient and closer to Mitochondria Eve, the oldest-known female haplogroup, thus displaying mutations in a better time-oriented sequence.

About 15,000 SNPs with both new SNPs and SNPs from the established Y-DNA Phylogentic Tree will be included in this test.  With these new SNPs, we can expect the Phylogentic Tree for Y-DNA to explode! There will be more Haplogroup subclades than ever before, thus helping testers determine in detail who is more closely related as well as providing younger and more geographically relevant Y-DNA branches.  It not only refines the twigs (subclades) on the Y-DNA tree, but will define the relationships between those twigs (subclades).  This level of SNP testing will provide a much more accurate age for Y-SNP-based lineage to better clarify Bronze Age migrations from late Neolithic migrations which is important in understanding early history and pre-history.

Your Personal Webpages
Results Page
Your Story Page
Besides your results page, the new Genographic webpages for testers provide a section entitled “Your Story” where you learn more about your branch of the human tree.  It gives you a map of the journey your ancestors took thousands of years ago from Africa.  You will be able to view the migration map step by step with anecdotal information at each step.  As your reach a more recent time, you will be able to add your story to the migration map and 
connect with others who have done the same.  Thus, if you know your ancestor came from Krefeld, Germany in 1683, you can add that fact and see if others who have tested came from the same area.  Another section entitled “Who Am I” provides your ancestral make-up, including your percentage of various populations, including Neanderthal and Denisovan.

In summary:
        The Geno 2.0 test is $199.95 with free shipping in the US
        Results are expected to take 4-6 weeks after the initial beta testing is completed
        The Family Tree DNA lab in Houston will do the testing
        All data can be downloaded for your genotype
        Reference populations being used will be downloadable
        For men, the test uses Y-DNA, mtDNA, X-DNA, and Autosomal DNA SNPs
        For women, the test uses mtDNA, X-DNA, and Autosomal DNA SNPs
        The test yields both paternal and maternal haplogroup results for males and maternal haplogroup results for females. Details of the haplogroups are provided
        This test esentually replaces the DeepClade test and takes the haplogroup designation to greater detail, allowing a more specific geographic association with the terminal SNP
        A Migration map and a frequency distribution map for your genotype gives you specifics about your haplogroup and helps you understand the results
        The new website will allow you to enter information about your lineage and see the same from your matches
        You can e-mail those near matches who are related to you through the site, but know that these matches are on an anthropological time frame and not a genealogical one
        You can share your information on various social media such as Facebook and Twitter
        You can transfer your test results from National Genographic to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) at no charge
        Genographic will e-mail everyone who has transferred their original test to FTDNA to notify them of Geno 2.0
        Existing consents with FTDNA to manage testers’ results will not be useful for this test as a new DNA sample must be taken

Some features will not be available at launch, and many others will be introduced in the coming months.  Besides, the emphasis on DNA, Genographic will announce a new structure for funding their Legacy Project and place a greater emphasis on educational initiatives, called GenoThreads.  
Geno 2.0 kit

Be among the first to order you Geno 2.0 kit!

Website:  www.genographic.com

* SNP.  Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms are special markers geneticists use to determine a person’s twig on the world family tree.

**  Phylogenetic Tree. The Phylogenetic Tree is the world’s family tree and is expressed in an alternating series of letters and numbers, such as U5a1a1.  The letter U is the branch and each consecutive number or letter is a twig branching from the previous twig.  Both Y-DNA and mtDNA have Phylogenetic Trees.

Emily, 25 Jul 2012

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