Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday DNA Sales -- Part 2

FTDNA sure came up with a way to entertain for the next 5 weeks those of us who are DNA junkies. The introduction of the Mystery Reward to the sale is a game changer. If gives us a chance to open our presents (Mystery Reward) discount codes before Christmas -- actually every week. Now the tactical planning can begin. The currently available Mystery Rewards expire Sunday night. 

Apparently they come in 11 categories as Angela Robertson reported on the ISOGG Facebook site: "There are supposed to be 11 kinds of coupon codes. I have identified 10 of those 11 so far. (I don't have all these, but have been tabulating from posts I've seen.) Anyone know which one is missing?"
Now the tactics for a winning holiday genetic genealogy season quickly are coming to the fore. Since you will be offered a new Mystery Reward each week until the end of December, should you wait and hope for a "better" discount? Should you use the discount code you have before it expires on Sunday night? Should you give it to a family member or friend? Should you offer it to a fellow genetic genealogist? The codes are transferable but have a limited life. A secondary marked has already erupted on Facebook. 

If your Mystery Reward is not showing up on your MyFTDNA page you probably need to clear the cache of your browser and try again. That worked for me.


Another holiday sale appeared yesterday from Thomas and Astrid Krahn:

YSeq has also announced that all its extensive catalog of tests for individual yDNA SNPs are on sale for $19 per test. This sale is scheduled to end on December 3rd.

Join in the fun. No Black Friday sale has excited me like this in years.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

FTDNA's Holiday Sale Adds Mystery Rewards

This morning the 2014 Holiday Sale is being unveiled on the FTDNA site. Everyone likes a sale; and this is a very comprehensive one -- with a twist thrown in to add to the excitement. Below is what the company has to say:

 We’re launching the long-awaited Holiday Sale and we wanted you to be the first to know! It will extend through Dec. 31, 2014 (11:59 PM Central). The reduced prices will either be visible at 10:00 AM Central or very shortly afterwards.
 For this holiday season we’ve got an exciting new twist to the sale - Mystery Reward discounts! The Mystery Reward will be a randomized discount (up to $100 off) that can be applied on top of the already reduced Holiday Sale prices.  
The Mystery Reward icon will appear on testers’ myFTDNA dashboard each week and the code will expire the night before the next Mystery Reward appearsWhen you click the icon, you'll to go to the reward page to open the Mystery Reward for savings up to $100. We’ll also send an email notification to the kit’s primary email address when a new code is available for use or sharing.   Best of all, there will be a new Mystery Reward every week. Customers can use the discount or can share it with a friend.     In addition, all customers who have purchased the Big Y test will receive a coupon for $50 off a Big Y test.

That's ON TOP of the sale price. Yes, you read that right. A coupon that can be used on top of a sale price. The coupon can also be "regifted," meaning shared with a friend or fellow project member. 
   Here are the prices:

Dr. D wonders if 23andMe and Ancestry will follow with offers of their own? They are really only in competition on FTDNA's Family Finder test. Neither 23andMe or Ancestry offer yDNA or mtDNA testing. Rumor has it that Ancestry may offer something on Black Friday.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

STiRring the SNP Pot

Most of us, who have been interested in genetic genealogy for more than 4 years, got our start by trying to understand the STRs (Short Tandem Repeats) of yDNA. For those of you who are new to this field, STRs are what is counted at various specified locations along Chromosome Y to generate the numbers on 12 markers, 25 markers, ... and 111 markers test results.

In the last few years our attention has been drawn to the cMs (centiMorgans) of matching segments of the large numbers of atDNA kits that have been tested by 23andMe, FTDNA and Ancestry.

Unfortunately, Full Mitochondrial Sequence test results have yet to reach the critical mass necessary to make mtDNA genealogically relevant to many of us. As the number of individuals tested continues to grow, this test will have genealogical relevance for more of us.

In 2014 the first wave of the SNP Tsunami engulfed us as results from Full Y, BIG Y and Chromo2, among others, began to come back in greatly increasing numbers. The mechanisms for organizing the newly discovered SNPs (pronounced "snips") could not begin to keep up. The FTDNA SNP tree currently lists my most recent SNP as R1b-L21 even though I had tested positive for DF13 (the next level down) in their lab in June, 2012. DF13 does not yet show up of FTDNA's SNP Tree even though several hundred customers have tested positive for it. Only SNPs known by November, 2013 and mostly those on the chip of National Geographic's Geno 2.0 test have so far been incorporated. As a result none of the SNPs discovered in the last year are listed in Y-DNA Haplotree currently posted on FTDNA's website

Even ScotlandsDNA, the lab which discovered and named my own subclade of S1026, has not figured out much about what it is:
Your S1026 subtype was recently discovered using Chromo2, so its distribution is not yet understood. You may carry markers that further define your subtype, but do not yet appear on our tree. You will find these in your genetic signature.
The ISOGG yTree is trying to keep up but is woefully behind where the SNPs are daily being identified as they wash ashore in the haplogroup discover projects. This tree which is relied on by academics and hobbyists alike to document the descent of "man" from yAdam to the present had identified and placed on its tree a total of 3,610 SNPs from 2006 to about this time last year. Since January of 2014 alone more than 10,000 additional SNPs have been added. And there is no end in sight. Tens of thousands more are in the process of being identified and placed by citizen scientists. 

NextGen sequencing has identified them. The harder job is to assign each of them to the correct haplogroup and to arrange them in the correct chronological order. Many more men need to be tested before this process can near completion.

Men wishing to learn more about their deep ancestry and those who wish to build bridges from their deep ancestry to their ancestral trail into genealogical time cannot rely on the yTrees of either FTDNA tree or ISOGG. These are too far behind the trail blazers. Instead the strategy that seems to be working is to seek out a man who has already taken a NextGen test AND who shows up as a match for them on a ySTR test. A match within 10 markers on a 111 marker ySTR test is likely to be a fellow member of one's subclade just beyond genealogical time. Mismatches of 7 or less on a 67 ySTR test are also good candidates.

SNP R1b-S1026 was discovered just below L21 and DF13 by ScotlandsDNA's Chromo2 service shortly before the BIG Y results started coming back.

It is at the very bottom and slightly right of center in the diagram above. At the moment it is represented by 4 pale rose colored boxes. This is my subclade. We are attempting to expand this group down into genealogical times and we are getting close. 

Recently two men who previously had not SNP tested were tested for newly discovered Z16891. For those of you who are trying to keep score, Z16891 is the rightmost pale rose SNP on the very bottom row in Mike Walsh's excellent chart above. These men were single SNP tested using the older Sanger technology at FTDNA. ySeq also offers the same test. These men chose to be tested for Z16891 because they had close STR matches with men who had taken part in the discovery of Z16891 as part of BIG Y. In both cases the men tested positive. These positive tests allowed these two fellow travelers to document their journey down the SNP flow from yAdam to SNP Z16891. 

This process provided a very inexpensive option compared to the first class ticket for the BIG Y. It is also less helpful to the discovery process. These men also did not get a list of SNPs below Z16891 that could turn out to be terminal SNPs that uniquely identify their specific families.

It is hoped that the testing panels now being developed will be another avenue for more men to get involved in SNP testing -- something between the vast BIG Y and the narrowly focused individual SNP tests. If those come on line over the next few months, we then will be looking at ways to test potentially terminal SNPs for individual families that may become the 21st century equivalent of 17th century coats of arms. 

Friday, October 24, 2014

NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection to Printer?

According to the schedule established by the publisher last summer, NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection should have gone to the publisher yesterday. Did it? Only time will tell. As some of you may have heard me say, I was born in Missouri, the "Show Me" state. Therefore, I only believe things after I have seen them. Since I am a slow learner, I often don't believe them until two weeks after I have seen them.

The official publication date for the book is November 30th, 2014. That hurdle should easily be met. The project was on schedule when I submitted the corrected page proofs and the index on September 25th. Since then it has been totally out of my hands.

If any of you are interested in getting copies, they are available through the publisher, Amazon and other outlets. 

This post is taking far longer than I had intended. As I went through the process of writing and creating links. I found many distractions. My original intent was to warn potential buyers of two possibly misleading bits of information in the advanced publicity. 

CeCe is NOT a co-author 

CeCe Moore was originally contracted to be a writing partner for this book. The book would have been better if she had been able to participate. However, her commitments to other projects did not allow her to meet our publication deadline. You occasionally will see her name associated with the book. I don't want you to buy the book under false pretenses. Once a book project is underway, it is like trying to get an aircraft carrier to change course to get all the databases corrected to reflect mid-project changes. The publisher originally had both my name and CeCe's on the cover. Amazon picked up that version. The publisher then amended the cover and Amazon updated the cover icon. However, Amazon continued to list her as a co-author and to include a short bio on the book page. 

I had been led to believe that only the publisher could submit changes to Amazon. This morning, after I started this post, I went though my author page at Author Central at Amazon. From there I was able to find a link to request a change in the product description, As soon as I submitted my request, my phone rang. After a couple of minutes of beautiful music, a human came on the line. After I explained the situation, she said the change would be made within three business days. It was made within three minutes.

You will find other venues which still list CeCe. My publisher's Fall catalog which is now live on the website is one example. She is actually good for sales; but I don't want buyers to be disappointed.

Electronic version

Unless you are buying the book for a public library, you probably would not be interested in the digital version of this book. My publisher is great in marketing books to libraries and college bookstores. The 21st century consumer market is not something that the company has mastered. To them digital version does not equate to Kindle. It means reading the book on the company server. Many public and academic libraries buy rights to have their patron be able to read books of this publisher online. In your case let the buyer beware.

Purchase options

The book is available for preorder. If you chose to order it through the publisher, you can use the following discount flyer. Shipping is probably extra. 

If you have Amazon Prime that includes free shipping, I'm not sure whether or not the above discount would make your total price less expensive.

Book length

The book is at least 30% longer that the advanced advertising would suggest. The 136 pages was a place holder that the publisher inserted before the first draft of the manuscript had been submitted. The index of the finished book begins on page 167. I hope you enjoy and learn from it. Let me learn from your feedback.

Friday, October 10, 2014

NextGen Sequencing and yDNA: Part 2

This post is a continuation of my post two days ago.

Within the last week several events have occurred to flesh out our small project. This is exciting but it also will take a while to absorb this influx of new data and make sense out of it all. However, relationships are emerging among project members -- some of whom had previously appeared to be living alone on almost deserted ySNP islands.

The results of an additional BIG Y kit has come back. This connected two men with at least several recent generations of documented French descent. Although they still may not have a common ancestor in genealogical times, their match appears to be within the last millennium. For one of these men whose father was adopted, this is encouragement that he is on the right track in pursuing some ySTR matches who are also of French ancestry.

One member has received Sanger confirmation through ySeq that his S1026 result from NextGen sequencing was correct. Although this analogy is very crude, NextGen sequencing is the equivalent to taking images from a space satellite. On the other hand, Sanger technology would be like driving to a specific location on earth and recording an image. 

NextGen sequencing is much faster for scanning large areas particularly those which may be almost inaccessible or those which have coordinates which were previously inexact or even unknown. It is great for discovery. 

On the other hand Sanger technology can be targeted precisely to one specific location (SNP or STR) and is considered to be much more reliable. The down side it is much more expensive drive around on the surface of our genomes and record a series of images that could be stitched together to form a coherent map. It is much faster and cost effective to start with satellite images. 

Two men who previously had close ySTR matches with others who had previous BIG Y results have tested a single downstream SNP through Sanger technology through FTDNA and confirmed they belong in this project. These men were able to target a specific SNP that had been identified by the BIG Y results of someone with whom STR results had previously suggested a distant relationship did exist. Thus at the cost of a single SNP test, these two men were able to confirm that their SNP trail takes time down into historical times and perhaps to the beginning of the genealogical era. 

One project member got this week, after a wait of three and a half months, his Chromo2 results from ScotlandsDNA. The early examination of the results confirmed that he did belong to R1b-S1026. It was in fact this test that identified and named a SNP at location 19201991 as being S1026. That is where the "S" came from in the naming protocol.

All of these results coming back within the same week has energized our tiny project which now only has a baker's dozen of confirmed members. However, it will take us a while to puzzle over what it all means and what our next steps should be to continue to trace our diverging trails down into genealogical time and hopefully connect with the documented genealogies of specific families.  

But now I must tear myself away from all this and fly to Houston today for Family Tree DNA's 10th Annual Conference on Genetic Genealogy. Don't you just hate it when your opportunities to learn more about genetic genealogy compete for your time to actually do genetic genealogy? I know, I know. I should just be grateful for my opportunities. And I am. 

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

NextGen Sequencing and yDNA

Genetic genealogy got its start in 2000 and yDNA dominated the first decade. mtDNA entered the scene late in that decade but has two difficulties to overcome. The first is that it is a fairly blunt instrument with only 16,569 locations to differentiate among all of us. It is good for deep ancestry but has yet to demonstrate it has potential to differentiate among related individuals. Second, to date there there have not been hundreds of thousands test their complete mitochondria -- the only level at which mtDNA seems to have much genealogical value.

By 2010 23andMe and FTDNA led the way into exploring the largest areas of our DNA -- the autosomes. These two pioneers were joined in this marketplace in 2012 by AncestryDNA. Now more than a million atDNA test kits have been sold by these three companies and the pace is accelerating. 

Autosomal DNA is great for defining close relationships -- at least when those relationships have existed within the last several few generations. Therefore it can be very useful to genealogists. However, since it is recombined in each intergenerational transfer, it soon loses its power of discernment as we investigate backward in time. This is the hottest growth area in DNA testing for genealogy and likely will continue to be so for some time. Women are on equal footing when it comes to testing autosomes.

In 2014 yDNA is making a comeback. It offers by far the longest segments of unrecombined DNA in our genomes. Therefore, it offers the best tool for looking into our deep ancestry. Although it may seem politically incorrect to say so, the less than seventeen thousand locations on our mtDNA cannot begin to be as informative as the more that fifty million locations on our yDNA. Unfortunately only men can be tested. NextGen sequencing technology is now making it possible to read SNPs at several million locations on our yDNA. This far exceeds the hundred or so ySTRs that were being sequenced by earlier technology just a couple of years ago. 

As a result of NextGen technology, tests like BIG Y, Full Y and Chromo2 have burst onto the scene. Although the prices of such tests are already coming down somewhat, they are still pricey compared to atDNA tests. However, the amount of data that they discover will take us a while to fully organize and analyze. 

Traditional genealogy emphasized starting with the present and building carefully and methodically back into the past inhabited by our ancestors. These new tests have allowed us to reverse our focus and work from prehistory down toward genealogical times. In a few cases they have already allowed us to intersect with our traditional documentary research. This trend will greatly accelerate as we get more skillful at interpreting the information written in our yDNA.

Even in earlier and simpler times we could begin to sketch the flow of our ySNPs from yADAM down toward the present. Five years ago I was offered an overview of how my SNPs and thus my paternal ancestors had migrated down to the last several thousand years. Below is how deCODEme illustrated my paternal descent down to haplogroup R1b -- the largest in Europe:

[Click on the chart to expand.]

The SNP tsunami that flows from these powerful new tests is allowing us to fill in gaps in charts like the one above. More importantly they are allowing us to build down toward the present. I will extend this SNP flow down to the last millennium in my next post.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

What's Next for Dr. D?

Back in June on the eve of Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, I had dinner with my acquisitions editor at the publisher who has published all my books to date. She had just read and forwarded to the production editor the manuscript for NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection. As we parted that evening she asked, "What are your going to write next?"

At the time I was not ready to answer that question. My commitment involvement to complete NextGen had not yet run its course. Now that is changing. You can now see the Table of Contents:

On Thursday I  posted on Facebook
Just sent corrected page proofs & index to publisher for NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection. Postpartum setting in. November publication.
I'm moving past the brief depression that comes with the realization that my ability to shape the final product has passed. For better or worse it is in the final stages of production. 

The book itself is just one of the aspects about which I now seem to be powerless. Even though Amazon has taken CeCe Moore's name off the cover, the site continues to list her as a co-author. See my earlier post about how this came to be. Once something gets into a database it seems to take a life of its own and it is next to impossible to remove/correct all locations where it resides.

Now I'm still not sure what I want to do next. I'm also not sure what the appropriate venue for that effort might be. My current publisher, Libraries Unlimited, has been a very comfortable fit up until now. As long as I was writing about library topics for library workers, this was the right market niche. With Crash Course in Genealogy it was easy to maintain this tie by slanting it toward helping library workers assist family history researchers. With NextGen Genealogy that connection became more tenuous. The title was almost shifted to Praeger -- an imprint also owned by the parent company ABC-Clio. In the end this book stayed with Libraries Unlimited. If I do undertake another book, should it be with Libraries Unlimited, Praeger, some other publisher or should it be self published?

The nature of the content may guide that choice. I have long had in the back of my mind that I might want to top off my trilogy with a book on the ethical issues surrounding DNA testing. This would go beyond testing for family history applications and wander into the even more emotionally charged area of testing for medical conditions. 

Ethics is not a new area of concern for me. In the 1970s I served on the Committee for Professional Ethics of the American Library Association. I even chaired the committee for a year. More recently, for more than a decade, I taught a short course for library workers and web designers entitled Ethics in the Information Age. However, it was only in the last three years that I came to realize that there was a significant overlap between my earlier forays into the field of professional ethics and my newer found interest in DNA testing. Chapter 7 in NextGen Genealogy is my first attempt to write about the overlap of these two fields of interest.

Now that NextGen Genealogy is about to be launched, it is becoming obvious how much has changed in the last 6 months since I turned the first draft of the manuscript over to my acquisitions editor. Print publication is such a slow process in the age of instant gratification. In addition, in NextGen Genealogy, I deliberately tried to not intimidate newcomers to genetic genealogy. Is it time to start working on NextGen Genealogy 2.0: Digging Deeper Into DNA?

Before making a final decision, I'll probably do what I have often done in the past. Do a little writing. Do a little teaching/lecturing. Get a feel for what works with people with whom I'm interacting. In the spring I may be teaching another class through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt University. It wouldn't be appropriate for that audience to dive deeply into either of these topics but it may give me a chance to try some of the content.

Dr. D is having a hard time trying to decide what to do when he grows up or even if he wants to grow up!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

FTDNA End of Summer Sale

I'm happy to pass along this notice which just appeared in my email box because we all benefit when more people are tested and the databases of potential matches grow bigger:

Dear Beloved Bloggers,

We hope you've had a great summer!  As the season draws to a close, join us for one last celebration with our End of Summer Y-DNA Sale!  Customers can order a Y-DNA test and join the world's largest Y-DNA database today.  All Y-DNA tests and upgrades have been marked down for significant savings!

Time is limited.  The sale ends 9/3/2014.

As an added bonus, Big Y is also on sale for just
$495.  Big Y coupons acquired during the Father's Day Sale can be used on Big Y orders placed during the End of Summer Sale.  With Big Y, 340,000 years of Y-DNA ancestry is just a test away!

Standard Tests
Regular Price
Sale Price
Big Y

Regular Price
Sale Price
Y-12 -> Y-37
Y-12 -> Y-67
Y-12 -> Y-111
Y-25 -> Y-37
Y-25 -> Y-67
Y-25 -> Y-111
Y-37 -> Y-67
Y-37 -> Y-111
Y-67 -> Y-111

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Unraveling BIG Y Test Results: R-DF97

Yesterday I wrote about a BIG Y discovery that got my Maryland Dowells past SNPs R-L21 and R-DF13. The Virginia Group 1 Dowells in our surname project had long been known to have come forward in time from those two SNPs and were known to have reached R-M222. Thanks to the informative charts that citizen scientist Mike Walsh tirelessly updates at the site of the R L21 and Subclades Project, we have the opportunity to almost keep up with the current SNP tsunami:

The chart above is offered only to give overall perspective. The new subclade R-S1026 discussed in yesterday's post is represented by the four boxes colored pale pink in the middle of the chart. The more robust subclade R-DF49, which includes SNP M222, is the blue/aqua on the extreme lower left corner of the chart. Our Maryland Dowells and the Virginia Dowells have not shared a common male ancestor in about 3,500 years even though both followed the same SNP trail down from yDNA Adam to SNP DF13. You will need to visit the linked project website to be able to read the details of this chart. 

The DF49 corner of the chart is blown up below:

I request the reader's indulgence to ignore the gold and yellow boxes in the upper right corner of this part of the chart. The Virginia Group 1 Dowell who took the BIG Y test, was able to trace his SNP migration pattern several hundred years and eight SNPs closer to the present. He now is confirmed to be DF97 and beyond. DF97 is at the bottom of the third column from the left in the above chart.

Although this Dowell has been able to discover the trail of his ySNPs through a significant part of the last few millennia, he still has discoveries to make to connect his paper trail to his SNP trail. As was the case with my Maryland Dowells, The Big Tree of Alex Williamson gives many more recent SNPs to try to arrange in the proper chronological sequence. It is necessary to visit the original website to get a clear view of the SNPs that the yDNA of this Virginia Dowell has accumulated as his paternal clan moved toward the Atlantic coast of Europe. 

The Virginia Group 1 Dowell is the third column from the left in the above chart. SNP DF85 is in top row and DF97 is in row three. There are still many SNPs to arrange in the proper sequence in recent centuries as attempts are made to tie the SNP path into the documented path and to identify his nearest relatives.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

NextGen Genealogy: The DNA Connection is moving toward publication

With great haste we make slow progress. I just returned the copy edits for my new book to the editor. Another step closer to the publication date but still a few steps to go.;postID=568404745683052894

For those of you who have not experienced the process, I'll review it for you. I signed the contract last September. The manuscript was due at the publisher at the end of December. That deadline was missed and my co-author had to withdraw because of success in other areas of her life as a genetic genealogist. It was April before I finished the part she was to have written. 

First the acquisition editor read the manuscript and approved it to go into production. Then it was reviewed for plagiarism, copyright and legal permissions from those whose material was being included. Here the progress seemed to bog down. I'm not sure whether this was due to an illness of the production editor or because of the cycle adopted by my publisher. The cover was developed as soon as the manuscript went into production. Authors, at least with this publisher, have no say about the cover. We can negotiate almost any other aspect but not the cover.

Manuscripts for other books I have done with this publisher were due at the end of December. This allowed the books to be available for showing to thousands of librarians who attend the American Library Association Conference typically held at the end of June. Since the current title missed that cycle, it seemed to fall into the next cycle. That cycle is to get it out in November so that it could be available for Christmas.

The production editor assigns the manuscript to a copy editor who reads it for grammar, footnote format, etc. The manuscript is returned to the author for concurrence with any changes and to answer any questions from the copy editor. This is the last point at which the author can make any changes or add new material. 

The manuscript is returned to the copy editor for final formatting. It is then converted into page proofs. These are returned to the author for one last review. At this stage only the most minute changes can be made so that the pagination will not be disrupted. The index is created at this point. I prefer to do my own indexing. Our work schedule calls for me to be indexing in mid-September. The page proofs and index are returned to the copy editor who places every thing in final form and forwards it to the publisher for printing and distribution.

If you should order this book from the publisher, be advised that the electronic format offered was designed primarily for library servers and may not be what you have come to expect from Kindle. The book also can be preordered from Amazon but the discount code shown above will not be honored there. 

Makes one want to investigate self publishing.