New DNA Match List Features at MyHeritage

MyHeritage has added labels (colored dots) and favorites (stars) to the DNA matches lists. These are extremely similar to the ones at AncestryDNA. One advantage at MyHeritage is that when you select multiple colored dots to display, you are shown all the matches marked with either one, whereas Ancestry only shows the matches who have both. Another advantage is that MyHeritage gives you 30 colors as opposed to the 24 at Ancestry.

On a DNA match, the left are icons for the new features, labels and favorites, above the new location of the notes icon (red arrow my addition). Clicking the square for a label slides in a panel on the right as above.

The downside of the MyHeritage implementation is that you can only see and edit these colored labels on the DNA match lists, not on the actual match page or its in common with list. According to the blog post that My Heritage wrote on how to use this feature (click here), those pages will have the labels in the future. Also when you export your match list from MyHeritage there is no indication of those labels in the resulting CSV.

So how might you use this new feature? First of all, for myself, I use the favorites star for matches I want to come back to later. However when working on an unknown parentage case, I use the star for just the paternal side which is helpful for various automated tools.

If you have already assigned colored dots on Ancestry, my advice is to use the same colors on your MyHeritage labels for the same groups. Personally I have assigned a color to each great-grandparent line, except my Bavarian line which has very few testers and no matches that I can confirm other than the one 2nd cousin that I convinced to test.

Then I have a few fifth grandparents who seem to have many tested descendants that match us, so they get colors too. Next I assigned colors for as yet undetermined matches from the same localities that my ancestors are from, those include labels for Norway unknown, Germany unknown, and Ashkenazi unknown. Click here for my discussion of how I use the very similar the Ancestry labels.

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Automated DNA Icons in your Ancestry Tree

Did you know that you can turn on icons in your Ancestry family tree that connect to your DNA results? Click on the DNA icon at the bottom of the tree management icons on the left and a panel will swing in from the right (as in the image below) showing three icons that you can turn on: ThruLines, Possible DNA Matches, and Connected DNA Matches. Just click the On/Off slider to turn each of them on or off.

Turning on the DNA Discovries Icons – red arrow showing where to click is my addition

 

Of all those, I find the ThruLines icon the most useful because when looking at the boxes view in a complicated tree, I can easily pick out my ancestors because of the little blue ThruLines icons (as in the example above). Since my brother has tested, all my direct ancestors back to my 5th grandparents have that icon. In the past I had put my own icon in the suffix field. Then I used the direct DNA ancestor tag that Ancestry provides. It is so much less work having it done automatically for me!

Clicking on a profile with the ThruLines icon pops up a box with a summary of information about that person including, on the bottom, the word ThruLines with a down arrow to the right of it. Click either the down arrow or those words to expand the little window downwards, as shown on the left. and see clickable green highlighted words that will take you to the actual ThruLines page for that ancestor (example below).

Image of ThruLines for Halvard T. Tveito

ThruLines for Halvard T. Tveito … I may not have all these people in my tree!

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My DNA Talk this Monday: Unknown Parentage

Personal DNA testing has been a miracle for finding biological family, whether you are looking for both parents, an unknown dad, an unknown grandad, or even, as in my family, an unknown 3rd grandfather as well as an unknown 5th grandad.

On Monday evening October 25 I will be giving a talk about using DNA for unknown parentage live (online) for Indian Trails Library in  Prospect Heights, Illinois (click here and scroll down to Oct 25 at 7pm Central time).  I have given presentations on the methodology  for these searches in the past, most recently for Rootstech 2021, but I am always updating it with new tools. Also this will be a full hour, so more in depth. Plus it includes a question and answer session afterwards.

Little did I know nine years ago, when I started testing my family and blogging about DNA and genealogy that those skills would translate into helping others find family. Click here for some of the interesting cases that I have blogged about.

It is an incredibly rewarding experience to reunite families and it has brought me much joy.

UPDATE:The video is now online at YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QE89cvNiBKg

Tracking down a BRCA2 mutation

I suddenly realized that I could find the people who match my late husband Steven M Cooper on his mutated section of the BRCA2 gene at the various DNA testing sites that show chromosome information. His particular BRCA2 mutation, implicated in breast cancer and melanoma, likely contributed to the fatal outcome of his prostate cancer. A problem with doing this is that none of his tested family members match that gene, so there would be no way to know if his matches had his bad maternal BRCA2 or his good paternal one.

image of Amalie LILIEN Tieger

Amalie LILIEN Tieger

So should I contact those many people and warn them? I had previously alerted his known LILIEN side cousins to this issue and already a second cousin once removed on his LILIEN line discovered her breast cancer early due to my warning. However I may be sending a false alarm to many. I decided it was something I should do. My family history investigations left me confident that Steve’s mutation came from one of the the parents of his grandmother Amalie LILIEN Tieger (jewish) born in Kalusz, Ukraine. Of course, it may well have originated further back.

First I had to locate the mutation in a numbering system that would translate to what we get from our DNA testing companies. From various google searches I learned that BRCA2 is located on chromosone 13. Looking at the report from Color Genomics, the test his oncologist ordered, I could see the location was a deletion at base pairs 32,913,602_32,913,605. More googling found that this is not the common Jewish BRCA2 mutation. That explains why his initial 23andme test years ago did not find it. Next I found the actual National Health Institute fact sheet for his mutation (click here) which had a click point to the diagram below. Click here for the cancer.gov discussion of BRCA2

Image and details of the problem mutation from the NIH web site

Image and details of the problem mutation from the NIH web site

Now to find the people who match him on that segment. I downloaded the full list of his matches with segment information from each site. The easiest site to use was GEDmatch because I could use the segment search function to get just the matches to his BRCA2 section of chromsome 13. At the other sites I had to get the full list of all matching segments and then sort by chromosome and start point to find the matching people.

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How to find your haplogroup and why do that?

Haplogroups fascinate me because they reveal our deepest ancestry. A haplogroup is a way of assigning a portion of your DNA to a category based on areas of very slowly changing markers. There are two types of DNA that can be assigned haplogroups, because they do not recombine therefore change only slowly via mutations. These are the Y chromosome and the DNA of your mitochondria (mtDNA), which are separate organisms in every cell that provide us with energy and are passed along via a mother’s egg. The groupings for their haplogroups look like family trees when charted, for example the one shown below from Eupedia. That is because each mutation creates a new branch. There are haplogroups assigned for both the all female line (mtDNA) and the all male line (Y). Click here for Eupedia’s wonderful descriptions of all the haplogroups found in Europe.

The female H haplogroup from Eupedia.com on haplogroups

Men have a Y chromosome, which makes them male, which has been passed from father to son, to his son, to his son, and so forth from from time immemorial. We all have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA ) which is passed from a mother to all her children unchanged. Thus your mtDNA is from your mother’s mother ‘s mother and so on. Both of those parts of DNA inheritance can be traced back to the dawn of humanity. That is unlike the other chromosomes which mix the inheritance from each parent such that after several generations there may be little or no trace of our deeper ancestors. Most of us have no verifiable autosomal DNA from before our 5th grandparents.

Those of you who have family legends about descent from an Indian princess might be able to prove the connection using mtDNA if there is a direct female line to that ancestor, since there are specific haplogroups for Native Americans (click here for the wikipedia article on that).

My Ancestral Haplogroups displayed in Paul Hawthorne’s colorful genealogy chart

One thing that I like to do is figure out the haplogroups of my recent ancestors by testing cousins in the needed line of descent. I made a chart of the ones I know using Paul Hawthorne’s colorful genealogy chart (click here for more about that) with the haplogroups added. As you can see, I have many more lines to chase down. Sadly my Thannhauser Bavarian Jewish line daughtered out, so I am trying to find a male descendant of the one who moved to Albany NY in the mid 1800s.

So how do you find your haplogroup from your DNA test? Well if you tested at 23andme or Living DNA then you will be provided with your high level haplogroup. However if you want to drill down the branches, then test your Y and/or your mtDNA at Family Tree DNA (summer sale until end of August). Ancestry tests enough SNPs to get a high level haplogroup by using other tools on your raw data. My Why Y blog post explains how to use the Morley tool but there is also a tool to find Y haplogroups from Borland Genetics. I have been trying to convince Kevin Borland to write one for mtDNA since the James Lick mthap tool will not currently take ancestry data.

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