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DNA Day: last chance for sale prices

To celebrate DNA Day, April 25, all the companies which sell personal genome testing kits are having the best sales ever seen. These mainly end at midnight on the 25th. Click here for my page discussing the pluses and minuses of testing with each company.

My quick recommendations are:

  • Test at the largest database, Ancestry.com DNA, if you are interested in genealogy and are from an English speaking country.
  • Test at 23andme if you want the health results and like the nitty gritty segment details.
  • Test older family members and privacy worriers at Family Tree DNA (the cheek swab is easier than spitting, plus they keep the sample and do not sell any results).
  • Europeans or children of recent immigrants may prefer MyHeritage or Family Tree DNA

But what is DNA day and who deems it a day to celebrate? It is the day in 1953 when “James Watson, Francis Crick, Maurice Wilkins, Rosalind Franklin and colleagues published papers in the journal Nature on the structure of DNA” [source wikipedia]

My husband remembers his text books from the 1970s on molecular biology which claimed DNA could never be sequenced. I recently saved his 1970 second edition of Watson’s Molecular Biology of the Gene (now in its 7th edition as of 2013) above from our give-to-charity box.

On April 25, 2003 the human genome project declared success; Fifty years to the day after the Crick, Watson, et al article appeared. Do you think the choice of day was deliberate? And here we are 15 years later where the price of sequencing the small part of your genome which can be different from other humans is only about $50. Amazing!

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MyHeritage DNA Matching: Excellent Enhancements

MyHeritage has kept its promises: tree matching, pedigree display, a place for notes, and best of all, a chromosome browser. Plus the cousin matching is finally quite good, at least for your closer cousins, and includes some triangulation.

A very nice new feature is the Ethnicities Map, a menu item under DNA, which gives you the common groups for any modern day country you select. Since a question I commonly receive from family members is “Why doesn’t my known German ancestry show up?”, it is great to be able to show them this map:

A picture says it better than telling them that in the DNA, northern Germans look Scandinavian, southern Germans look Italian, eastern Germans look East European, and western Germans look French. My maternal ancestors lived at the crossroads of Europe!

Uploading your results from another DNA testing company is still free at MyHeritage and you get many of the DNA features. Personally I have just a data subscription and a small tree (there is a 250 person limit for unpaid members). In a few weeks I will create an account for a cousin and see if this works as well as it is supposed to for completely free members.

After the recent change, the segment details for my matches to my close family are very similar to what I see on GEDmatch and 23andme, same chromosomes, similar sizes, slightly different boundaries. This is a wonderful improvement!

Since my ancestors are all fairly recent immigrants from Norway and Germany, I was hoping for some international matches when I uploaded my DNA results to MyHeritage last year. In practice, as usual, there were no Germans (testing is not popular there), but plenty of Norwegian cousins that I already knew about, plus a few new distant ones.

However, I did recently get a new close cousin match (1C2R-2C1R), Melissa from New Jersey. I will use her match to investigate the new improved DNA matching.
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This is your life DD Carol!

When DNA Detective (DD) Carol Rolnick showed a family network diagram at her presentation last Saturday a voice suddenly piped up from the back of the room. Amazed, she looked up and said, “Sean?” A foundling whose case she had recently solved had flown in from Texas to come and surprise her. They had never met in person before. He saw on FaceBook that she was speaking in Carlsbad, so he got on a plane. Wow.

Sean left, Teri (a DIG organizer) center, Carol (surprised) right, photo by Kimber Motsinger

What a treat for us at our North County DIG (DNA Interest Group) meeting! Not only did we get Carol’s presentation but we got to hear the story of this case from both her and Sean. She mentioned that she has a special place in her heart for foundlings. They took turns explaining how she used DNA to solve this mystery of a 4 year old boy abandoned so many years ago in a motel room with his 2 year old brother. They knew their first names and not much else.

Sean was absolutely compelling when he spoke. Not a dry eye in the house. Preparation for his book tour?

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The i4GG Videos Are Here!

The videos from i4GG conference are finally available and I have not yet finished looking at Rootstech videos! You can purchase any or all of these videos from the i4GG site.

Personally, I went immediately to the presentations I missed at the time because they conflicted with another talk I went to.

Carol Rolnick, a fellow member of DIGG (the North San Diego DNA special interest group) gave a talk called “Tips and Tricks from the Genetic Genealogy Trenches” at the same time as my talk on “What’s new at GEDmatch on 2017” so of course hers was the first talk I listened to (after my own).

Several tips she gave were new to me. For example, did you know that in Chrome you can right click on an image and get google to search for it? Sometimes this works to find the name of an individual on your match list who has used a pseudonym. Of course a lot of the time it does not find a name but rather you get something like “official” or “portrait.”

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Changes to the 23andme DNA Relatives Displays

There have been some good changes to the relative matching displays at 23andMe. Finally when I get a new match, I can quickly compare them to several other known relatives from that first DNA comparison page. One of the features I have always loved, that 23andMe has but not the other testing companies, is the ability to compare my matches to each other. Seeing how much DNA they share can often help resolve how they are related.

I was surprised and delighted to see that the granddaughter of my Dad’s favorite brother got a DNA kit for Christmas and her DNA results are just in at 23andMe. So I will use her kit to show the new 23andMe displays. For privacy I will call her Nan.

When I click DNA relatives under Tools, the page it goes to no longer has two top tabs. Perhaps that confused many users. Instead there is a long sentence up top where the last few words are linked to the chromosome browser page that I like to use. I have put a red box around those words in the image below of Dad’s best matches. Of course there are other better ways to get to that browser.

When Dad gets a new relative, I typically click on their name to see how they compare to him. That next page is the one that is vastly improved.

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