Archive | August 2015

Help me collect X chromosome data

A new approach to problem solving is to appeal to social media. So here is my request to “crowd” collect statistics about X chromosome matches. If you have multiple close family members DNA tested then please help me by filling out this form for each relationship at

XcollectingI have already put this request on DNA_NEWBIES and facebook so the form is now, hopefully, well tested and I will list some of my preliminary results at the end of this post. I have to give credit to Blaine Bettinger for this data collection idea; he is collecting autosomal statistics this way, see my post about that and the results so far.

Now why did I decide to collect these statistics aside from my own curiosity? To help an adoptee of course.

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Touring the Family Tree DNA lab

Some people when visiting Houston might want to go see the butterflies or visit the art museum but not me. On my first day here my choice was to go over to Family Tree DNA and take a tour of their testing laboratory conducted by Bennett Greenspan himself. Sometimes there are benefits to being a well known blogger!

 The Tecan machine

Bennett points out the Tecan machine, which adds chemicals to extract the DNA

The lab is remarkable for its use of robotics. Bennett said something to us along the lines of “knowledge workers should be doing knowledge tasks and robots the repetitive tasks. Hard to compete with China any other way.” It was great to see all those automated pipettes. It would have been nice to have those in our science labs way back when.

All of us genealogists who are using DNA testing to solve family mysteries have Bennett Greenspan to thank for starting the personal genome testing revolution in 2000. All because he was a genealogist who wanted to know if he was related to some possible cousins in Argentina and could not find it with the paper trail. He also had time on his hands due to selling his photographic supplies business. Here is the story in an interview he did on youtube:

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Size Matters for Matching DNA Segments

The more large segments you share, the more closely related you are to a DNA match. To learn more about segments, read the blog by one of my favorite DNA writers on the yahoo DNA-NEWBIE list, Jim Bartlett, called
Brynne Ancestor MapHe explains why you share such large chunks of DNA with your closer relatives by showing how recombination works and how few cross-overs there usually are in a recent post at

While the total amount of shared DNA in centimorgans (cMs) is a fine indicator for your closest relatives out to second cousins, farther relationships can be more and more random in the amount of shared DNA. You can consult the charts and numbers at ISOGG here – – to determine those closer relatives.

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So much to report, teach me to take a vacation! has a new database: Social security applications and claims index, and DNAgedcom has a new tool to report your ancestry DNA total cMs, and I missed mentioning the Ancestry DNA sale at $79 instead of the usual $99 because it ends tonight. Hopefully there will be another one soon.

SocSecAppIndxI tried looking for my uncle in the index and it found him quickly. It listed his birthplace and parents names, useful information.

To learn more about the U.S. Social Security Applications and Claims Index read this post from Randy Seaver: – I recommend following his blog for news about databases added to familysearch and ancestry plus many good genealogy articles.

I hope to review the DNAgedcom ancestry client soon. It requires a subscription which seems fair as increased usage is bound to be costing them money and it is hard for these free sites to exist on donations alone. I like this trend whereby you can subscribe to a site like DNAgedcom or GEDmatch and get extra functionality but there is still plenty of good stuff available for free.

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