06 October 2017

Biggie Changes for Big Y

The Big Y test was launched in November 2013 and is a test for males who have taken a Y-DNA 37, 67 or 111 STR test.  The Big Y refines a tester’s haplogoup as well as contributors to the overall knowledge of the Y Tree by increasing the number of known SNPs from hundreds to thousands. This helps testers find matches who are more closely related in genealogical time with the goal of finding SNPs that are particular to a family group.  Eventually, we will close the gap between genealogical time (existence of records) and ancient DNA. 

The Big Y can be helpful when documentation does not exist.  It has helped genealogists find locations in their former homeland as can be seen in my experience below.

My personal experience:
After having my cousin do a Y-test, I found he matched six other surnames even when I upgraded him to a Y-111.  The wonderful haplogroup administrators suggested that I do some SNP testing which I did.  Then the advent of the Big Y came, and I jumped in.  After having a tester from each of the six names my cousin matched, the haplogroup administrators told me we are part of the Seven Septs of County Laois (Ireland) which existed there in the mid-1600s and at that point my surname Doolin was actually Dowling.
               Well, this is wonderful as I was stuck in Virginia in the mid-1700s and had no ideas if my surname was Scots or Irish as my dad always said we were Scots-Irish.  Also, I had no idea where in either of those countries our ancestors lived.  I realized my lineage could have come from County Laois, but there was a hundred-year difference.
               Last October (2016), my cousin received a match on a Y-37 with a genetic difference of two. I asked Mr. Dowling to upgrade to a Y-111 which he did and then he took the Big Y. He lived in London and had his lineage back to 1795 in County Laois!  So, now we have to discover which of his family (maybe not his direct line, however) may have left Ireland about 1750.  Without the Big Y, I would have had little hope in knowing a probable location of my Doolin ancestors.  Now there is some light.

The news today is that Family Tree DNA is providing a better Big Y experience in a few ways…
On October 10th the changes in Big Y go live.  At that point Family Tree DNA will be recalculating Big Y matches and they anticipate this to take 5-7 days at which time you will be a page stating “Results Pending.  Once your results are updated, you will be notified, and after the transaction is complete, Family Tree DNA will update you as to when BAM files are available.

So what can you expect?

1.  Update to Human Genome 38
An update from Human Genome 19 to Human Genome 38 which is the most recent version and a more accurate representation of the human genome.  Advantages include:
•  Better mapping of NGS data to the proper location
•  Consideration of alternative haplotypes across the genome

For more information about human genome builds, click here.

2.  Terminal SNP Guide
A terminal SNP Guide allows you to view and filter the branches closest to the tester's terminal branch on the haplotree.

3.  BIG Y Browser
The ability to view your SNP data from Big Y. This will allow you to personally assess all SNP call positions that are being evaluated for matching purposes. This data will be continuously updated.




msstarlite said...

Hi Emily,

I've just stumbled onto your blog and I'm exploring it, thank you for the wealth of information! :-) My mother and I are considering having my uncle take a Y-DNA test and we're still confused on what test to do. My mom, me, my sister, and grandfather (mom's father) have already taken the autosomal with Ancestry and transferred results to Family Tree and GEDmatch so I don't think we need to have him do that. Grandpa has now passed away which is why we want to test my uncle going forward. I'm thinking the Y-DNA 67 after seeing a previous post of yours about the tests and what the differences are (which I'm still confused about to be honest but so far your blog has done the best job of explaining). I see that lots of people later upgrade from 37 or 67 to 111 or Big Y. Does upgrading require another test be taken or just another fee be paid to have them reexamine the sample? Also, with this line (Robinson) we go back on paper to my 8th great grandfather but he's a brick wall. There's no trace of his parents or where he came from. My grandfather always said we were Scottish on that line but I still have no proof of that. I'd love to be able to figure that out.

For my father's side, he was of Japanese ancestry. The only male relative who might be willing to test is my first cousin (our father's were brothers). I'm also wondering what test would be best to have him do. We have significantly less information on this line.

For both of these men, if we could only have them take one test each, what would you recommend and why?

Also as a side note, I've looked at tons of explanations and comparisons for these tests and just cannot make heads or tails of them. Even the sites that sell the tests do not do a great job of explaining in layman's terms exactly what they do and what an individual should expect. Is there a post you can point me to that accomplishes this? I would truly be grateful

Genealem said...

Thank you for reading my post, and I'm pleased you have found it helpful to some degree, at least. A Y-37 used to be the standard, but now the Y-67 or higher is better in many cases. It depends upon your goals and the haplogroup. If you are only upgrading to an additional test or level of test, there is no need to swab again at Family Tree DNA providing there is still enough sample left. Usually, you can take several tests before you run out. You can always email and ask FTDNA if there is enough.

The fewer genetic differences you have on a higher level of the Y tests (i.e., 67 and 111), the closer you are in time to the matches. The Big Y is more ancient than genealogical time frame, but if the haplogroup for your men is on the R1b tree, it can be helpful. I suggest that you should learn more about that later rather than try to do it now.

For any male on your father's line, definitely do the Y-37 or higher and an autosomal test (Family Finder at FTDNA). If you must chose only one test for each of the men you mention, know that you can add or upgrade later. Also ask yourself what you want to know. Do you want to find matches on the all-male line (then do a Y test) or do you want matches anywhere on the pedigree chart of these men (autosomal test). The atDNA test goes back at least 5-6 generations and sometimes more. I do have a blog on each type of test. Just google the test to find them.

You might consider ordering my book as I do explain the basic tests. The info for ordering is on my blog.

Best wishes,