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Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thursday's Thoughts- Autosomal DNA testing



Disclaimer-"I do not endorse any of the companies discussed, or their products. If you plan on testing your DNA, make sure you do your research so you understand the testing constraints and what the results will tell you".
Okay, so I wanted to find out which is better, an autosomal test with AncestryDNA or one with 23andme? How about Family Tree DNA or the Genographic Project? My initial hope was to be able to connect with users of multiple databases to maximize my chances of finding living relatives, but it seems I may have to wait.
            Autosomal DNA aka atDNA is a record of our entire inherited DNA. This is different than Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA. From generation to generation, we lose ties to some relatives just as our siblings received different DNA than we did. We have 44 non-gender autosomal chromosomes, 22 from our mother and 22 from our father. The 23rd chromosome from each parent is the gender determining chromosome.
            AncestryDNA actually looks at 700,000 markers in your DNA makeup1. Yet, a lot of people testing their DNA seem to like 23andme better. It seems to meet their presumed and/or documented ethnic origin with higher accuracy.
            I was reminded by an Ancestry video, that we may not “inherit” our ethnicity from certain ancestors, which we of course don’t want to hear. On one hand it is a little surprising to lose this connection of heritage. It does make sense when the traits we receive not necessary an equal 50% from each parent, and so on, back through the generations. So we may have received traits from only one side of the family at that particular point it time. This ethnicity would then be missing from our autosomal test. Ancestry specifies the following three key points:
Your genetic ethnicity may go back further than your family tree.
While your ancestors lived in a certain country, there may have been genetic influence from other places.
You don’t necessarily share common DNA with all of your ancestors.2
            Only Family Tree DNA currently allows the upload of raw data. It appears that 23andme includes the mtDNA SNPs in your test results.3 Ancestry does not currently have a chromosome map. I think might Ancestry might surpassing the others in terms of the numbers of individuals in their database. I do think they need to get their ethnicity figured out so it is not so top heavy in regions such as Scandinavia. So, in the end which is better? They all have their benefits and drawbacks. Maybe it comes down to your preference. Do you like pie charts? Are you only interested in the raw data? Are you like me trying to locate living relatives? You do have the option when you receive your raw data to upload it to GEDmatch and compare it to their separate database.
            Please submit feedback and let me know what your thoughts and views are.
P. S. Just as I am finishing up, today I find that RootsTech 2014 featured a presentation on DNA by James Rader. I wasn’t able to catch the whole presentation, so will have to view the rest when the recorded video is uploaded, but so far it has been very informative from someone who has tested all of these products.

1.      “AncestryDNA 101: The Insider’s Guide to DNA,” Ancestry.com (http://c.mfcreative.com/email/newsletters/amu/2013/1113/AncestryDNA101.pdf: accessed February 3, 2014).
2.      “Ancestry DNA common questions,” Ancestry.com (http://help.ancestry.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/5442: accessed February 3, 2014).
3.      “AncestryDNA, Raw Data and RootsTech,” Your Genetic Genealogist (http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com/2013/03/ancestrydna-raw-data-and-rootstech.html: accessed February 3, 2014). 



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