Tuesday, October 7, 2014

DNA or Not to DNA - that's the complicated question!

Within the last 12 months, my husband and I have gotten into the DNA testing. Why DNA? Well, my reasoning was to see how much it would pick up and in what areas of the world. Also, if I could find any cousins - still alive (I was thinking Poland here) - this would maybe help to do it.

My Origins Map in FamilyTree DNA from my kit F342056
My husband's reasoning was a bit more purposeful - he wanted to see if he could find out what faction of the Fitzgerald's in Ireland he was.

Before we got too far ahead, the question was - which DNA company do we go to? Ancestry? 23andMe? Family Tree DNA? Is there any others better? Which ones should we stay away from? I put it in the too hard basket and moved on. The husband did not. Away he went researching his little heart out and then he had a person who thought they were related ask him if he would do one as her father was adopted and she wanted to compare her families DNA with his. He agreed and she sent him one - from Family Tree DNA.

He did get into some conversations with others who were using this technology and found it really useful. One of which was Dr Maurice Gleeson MB who has actually sat down and looked at these DNA companies.

Taken from Dr Gleeson's lecture in Aug 2014
As you can see, depending on what type of result you want and who you want to find, is which test you should use. Below is the whole talk of Dr. Gleeson.

We have gone and done the Family Tree DNA. The reasoning behind this was because we want to know closer as well as far away cousins to connect to. This way we can use as much paperwork as we can, as well as DNA, to link up with other family.

Other tools:
Be aware once you do the DNA test, send it in and get the results back (mine took about 3-4 months), then you can look at matches. However, if you want to find cousins that cover just who took the DNA test at the same place you did, you just use the company's software.

However, if you want to try and connect with other cousins from other companies, you will have to use another type of tool to do this. One the husband's been using a bit is GedMatch. This allows you to put your kit number (you get this once your DNA test is done) in and then it will match with others who have uploaded their kits.
A snip of my Gedmatch matches.

Its not the easiest tool to use, but at least there is one out there to be used. It can also test certain links between multiple people (triangulate) as well.

Different Types of Tests

Some of the TV shows like Finding Your Roots and Who Do You Think You Are? have used the DNA or at least talked about the DNA side of things.

Remember females care 2 X's of DNA and males care 1 X and 1 Y. This is why there are different
DNA tests for each sex.

They've said terms like:

Haplogroup - from wikipedia - a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) mutation in all haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, it is possible to predict a haplogroup from haplotypes.

Autosomal - from wikipedia - a chromosome that is not an allosome (i.e., not a sex chromosome). It can take the X and then use an X or Y from either person and so on. It could for instance do mother-grandmother-grandfather or something along those lines.

X-DNA - this is using only the X's in your DNA which is half of them typically. This is use to disprove DNA and it can reach back many, MANY generations. Think of Daughter-Mom-Mom-Mom (and on and on).

cM or centimorgan - from wikipedia - The number of base-pairs to which it corresponds varies widely across the genome (different regions of a chromosome have different propensities towards crossover).

Confused yet? I know my head's spinning by me just going over the terms. Like I stated at the top, we've used it for about a year now and I'm confused, but my husband is determined and each night I have at least 2 hours worth of talk (usually its replays of the past nights of talk) about DNA information and people.  

 As I said in the title of this post - It's a complicated question! It depends on what you want to do the test for? To prove something? Disprove? See if others are out there? All of these are valid. If you want to do the test just to do it? Well, I wouldn't do it then if I were you. We've had experiences as we've tried to reach out and contact some of these people only for the email addresses not be valid, or them not contacting us back, or them getting very annoyed and finally them telling us to never contact them again when we only asked if they knew a certain ancestor or how far they could go back. All innocent questions, but they took it as we wanted all their information. Wrong...we wanted to talk about the information to see if we had a common link.

On a side note, since joining the DNA testing, I have had an experience where someone in the kit has died. Talk about awkward and upsetting as it would have been great to see how we were connected but I just found him about 9 months too late.