Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Maternal vs. Paternal Matching

In the best of cases, to determine whether a DNA segment is a match with a cousin on the maternal or paternal side of the family, it is helpful to also have your mother and father also submit a sample.  However, both of my parents passed away several years ago so it is a little more difficult.

Fortunately, one of my first discoveries on 23andMe were two closely related cousins.  One was the great granddaughter of my maternal aunt (1st cousin, twice removed) and the second was the granddaughter of my maternal grandfather's sister (2nd cousin).  Plus, a 3rd cousin on my father's side of the family had already done much analysis on my paternal great grandmother's family.  Those matches have been invaluable in distinguishing the maternal vs. paternal.

For example, on chromosome 5, there are six cousins on the same segment.  I didn't display all the relationships between each cousin but in the first set, everyone matches each other.  Since I know both Leah and Shirley are cousins on my maternal side, I know that I am related to B J on the maternal side and perhaps farther back than my great grandparents because the segment length is much smaller.

Set 1 - Maternal side match
Rebecca vs. B J 5 162000000 167000000 7.0 cM 1030
Rebecca vs. Leah 5 163000000 172000000 17.9 cM 2420 (Maternal grandparents in common)
Harry vs. Shirley 5 167000000 180000000 28.4 cM 3035 (Maternal great grandparents in common)

Since the cousins in set 2 also all match each other but none of my cousins in set 1, we can conclude that we are related ton my paternal side.

Set 2- Paternal side match
Rebecca vs. Christopher 5 171000000 175000000 11.4 cM 1160
Rebecca vs. Walter 5 171000000 177000000 14.4 cM 1418
Rebecca vs. Willis 5 171000000 177000000 14.3 cM 1406

While I don't have the common ancestor for everyone here yet, I am able to eliminate half of my family tree and I can tell anyone matching on this segment where to look.

I find that associating that one little bit of DNA to one of my remote ancestors exciting.  Early on I was contacted by another cousin and found that we were related to each other on a small segment through my 4th great grandfather.  How cool is that!

Friday, August 30, 2013

Your DNA Results are In!

My brother's DNA results are in and I have been busy this last week compiling the information.  The good news is that we share 57.2% of our DNA so I can no longer tease him that his father was from Mars.  It was disappointing to find out that while 23andMe gave his halo group to the same level as Family Tree Maker and for a lot less money, it does not offer comparison on the Y chromosome.  What is good is that I now have 42.8% more DNA from our parents to use in comparisons.

So you have the results back, what next? 

Click on "Family & Friends" at top of the 23andMe home page.  This will take you to a page called "DNA Relatives" which is a pretty cool list of all the people who have a match with you on one or more DNA segments sorted by predicted relationship. 

Some people have made their profiles public so you can see what they have written about their family, their surnames, their family locations and a primitive family tree.  However, most people in the list have not made their information public to 23andMe members and even those who have, often do not have much information listed.  It is not possible to compare DNA results with any of your cousins until they agree to share genomes with you. 

If you have a "Public Match", click on the cousin's name then click on the link "Invite (cousin name) to share genomes".  I like to then click on "Customize Message" and include some of my family information.  If it is not a public match, then click on the link next to the name "Send an Introduction".  This will format a message for you and I suggest you also add some of your family information.  Be sure to click on the button labeled "Share my name and profile and also extend an invitation to share genomes at Basic Level" so that the genome invitation is also sent.

This is quite a tedious process as I had over a 1000 matches and had to send an introduction each one individually and each invitation was either accepted, declined or ignored.  Every time I get an invitation declined, it hurts my feelings just a little bit but making contact with new cousins is so rewarding.  Statistically, 1 in 4 invitations are accepted, very few declined and the rest are pending.

An invitation is accepted, what now?

Select "My Results" from the top of the 23andMe home page.  Select "Ancestry Tools" then select "Family Inheritance: Advanced".  This tool will let you compare your DNA results to any of your cousins with whom you are sharing genomes and also compare their results with each other.

Select the cousin for comparison and click "Compare".  This will show a pretty cool graph of how you match up to 3 cousins on each chromosome.  You can then select "View in a table" or "Download a table" of the results:

ComparisonChromosomeStart pointEnd pointGenetic distance# SNPs
Rebecca vs. Shari 1749000000540000006.1 cM1183
Rebecca vs. L 311000000025.0 cM3254
Rebecca vs. L 31830000001880000009.1 cM1187
Rebecca vs. L 911200000026.3 cM4424
Rebecca vs. Eileen 318200000018800000010.2 cM1392
Rebecca vs. Eileen 81400000010.8 cM2005
Rebecca vs. Eileen 118800000010200000013.5 cM3226

What do I do with the matching data?

The easy answer is to find your most recent common ancestor with each cousin but it is easier said than done.  This is the part where all of the old fashion family research that you have compiled over the years comes into play.  Make contact with your cousins matching on each segment and try to find out how you are related.

One thing to keep in mind is that 23andMe does not know if the DNA segment on which you match is from your maternal or paternal side of the family so if you make a comparison between cousins and they match each other on the same segment that they match you then it is likely that they belong to the same side of your family.

It is very rewarding to find out that this little snippet of DNA is associated with a remote ancestor and makes me feel connected to my family however remote.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Blanche Ridenour Martin

My genealogy research was interrupted by a sad event this week, the passing of my 96 year old aunt.  We tend to view people through our own experiences and the funeral was an opportunity to see her through the lens of others as a grandmother, a mother and a friend. 

Aunt Blanche was a wonderful, kind woman and I have many good memories of time spent with her and my uncle Gar.  I spend a lot of time with them as a child and mostly remember going to baseball games and eating hot dogs.  When I was in high school, she was the only one who could cut my hair the way I liked it.  They often visited my folks and she was there for my wedding.  In latter years, it was many an afternoon that we spent going through genealogy and old photos.  I wish I had spent more time with her.  She will surely be missed by all that knew her.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Health & Inherited Conditions

My main reason for DNA testing was for genealogy research but a big side benefit turned out to be the 23andMe test results for health and inherited conditions.  These results come before matching of genomes is available.

Our family has a history of both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.  When the results came back, it was actually a little scary the way they presented the information.   It has always been in the back of my mind that this will be my fate but that is a little different than actually facing it square on.  Before viewing, it is recommended that you watch a video and decide if you want to see the results.  By this time I am wondering if they do this for everyone or just the people with bad news.  I image some people would prefer not to know.  Me, I want to know so I can do something about it, if possible.

When I finally did click on the results, it was a huge relief to find out that I actually have a reduced chance for Alzheimer's and am at normal risk for Parkinson's.  What a relief!!!  However, I have elevated risks on a few other heath items that I am reviewing.  Plus two conditions that were partially inherited and could be passed on to my children.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Neanderthal, Really?

One of the first DNA results to be posted to my account by 23andMe was what percentage of my DNA is of Neanderthal origin. 

I was not sure I wanted to know that.  After all, being called a Neanderthal in my childhood was paramount to being called stupid and they looked like cave men.  However, curiosity got the best of me and I clicked on the icon.  Yikes, not only was I part Neanderthal, my percentage at 2.9% was higher than the average European of 2.7%.

Okay, I have to find out more so I started goggling.  Apparently, most non African populations contain sizable chunks of DNA from the Neanderthals and other archaic human relatives such as those found in the Denisova cave.  These humanoid species left Africa earlier than did Homo Sapiens. I can't say us and them anymore because somehow us is them now too.  Anyway, when they finally did leave the cradle of Africa, there were already people in Eurasia to met and greet.  Obviously, the inevitable happened and I can now  count among my ancestors the Neanderthal.

Now I wanted to know more about the Neanderthal.  Who were they?  What did they really look like?

"Neanderthals looked much like modern humans only shorter, more heavily built and much stronger, particularly in the arms and hands. Their skulls show that they had no chin and their foreheads sloped backwards. The brain case was lower but longer housing a slightly larger brain than that of modern humans. As almost exclusively carnivorous, both male and female Neanderthals hunted."  [http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Neanderthal]  Now this is good.  They believed in women's rights!

There are lots of articles out there including the next one about how the Neanderthals looked but then I got side tracked when I read that they may still be alive today.

"If you have a “RED GENE” freckles, light skin, reddish hair, that is a sign.

High intelligence is also a Neanderthal trait. The Neanderthals had large craniums and therefore more brains. They survived through the Ice Ages which required the ability to adapt to hunger and to be able to kill large animals. This meant they had good skills in team work."  [http://rhnegativebloodsecrets.blogspot.com/2013/01/are-you-related-to-neanderthals.html]

According to this article, Neanderthal remains are predominately found in Iberian Peninsular lying on the western side of the Pyrenees and on the border between Spain and France.  In other words, Basque country and the Basques are a physically distinct group having a language whose origin is not from any known source.

Now everything I read is controversial but I believe in science and I am sure one day the answers will be more definitive.  In the mean time, it is fun exploring our origins.

~ Becky ~

Sunday, August 11, 2013

The First Steps

Genealogy has been a hobby for many years now and having exhausted all the usual sources for information, I turned to DNA to help solve some of my family's history.

The first timid step was to submit my brother's DNA to FamilyTreeDNA for testing and join the Mason surname group.  After waiting a few weeks, I excitedly logged in to compare his y-DNA results to those of the Mason group.  I just knew that we would finally find the branch of the Mason family from which we descend and it confirmed my earlier suspicion that our family must have landed from Mars in the early 1800s. 

I am not sure how it is now but at that time FamilyTreeDNA solicited money for more in-depth testing.  Of course, "in for a penny, in for a pound", I dutifully sent them more money and got more results showing nothing except that the Mason family was of Anglo Saxon descent.  By this time I am beginning to become suspicious that my brother is not really a Mason so I let the whole thing drop for a few years.

Then a cousin asked me to send a sample to the 23andMe testing service to help him solve a mystery in another family line, also on my father's side of the family.  This time I sent in my own DNA and it cost less than $100!  Six weeks later, I found out that indeed I am my father's daughter but the jury is still out on my brother.  However, he has a sample pending and I have no doubt that it will be good news but then again, his father may have been from Mars.

~ Becky ~