In my last post Tested 67 ySTR Markers? Now What?, I discussed how you could get some idea of what your more recent ySNPs might be than the ones estimated by FTDNA. This knowledge can be useful whether or not you want to pursue further SNP chasing aggressively or not.
To build on the example in that last post, it looks like most if not all of those who had ySTR matches in that group actually belong to the R-S1026 haplogroup. This is a small clan that is now thought to have split from DF13 about 3,500 years ago. S1026 was just added to the FTDNA SNP Tree about a month ago. It still has not been added to the ISOGG yTree although the L21-DF13-S1026: R-S1026 and Subclades Project is linked from there. Our mechanisms for organizing new findings have been overwhelmed by the SNP tsunami of the last two years.
If you have gone through the process of finding the project for your matches who have done extensive SNP chasing, you can get a general idea of where your personal ySNP trail was located. For example, in the example I have been following, S1026 is the pale pink group of boxes in the bottom right-center of the following diagram created by volunteer super SNP chaser Mike Walsh:
Even more specific information can be found by following the SNP trails of our STR matches. The group of pink boxes associated with S1026 above have been expanded by another volunteer super SNP chaser Alex Williamson:
In the chart above some of the men listed at the bottom would be the ones that are likely to have been your 67 marker STR matches in my previous post. In this case they are the ones under the large fat SNP block in the center of the chart. Your results will differ. This example is a little skewed because several of us encouraged our closest ySTR matches to take the BIG Y test -- a strategy you may wish to employ if you do decide to take the BIG Y test.
If you are fortunate enough to be chasing a SNP that is below R-L21, you will be able to use the tools created by Mike and Alex to learn more about your own SNP path. If you are a member of a different haplogroup, hopefully there will be an experienced SNP chaser in your group who can guide your search. These volunteers are absolutely the most knowledgeable individuals about your haplogroup.
ySNP TESTING STRATEGIES
I am going to continue to use my own haplogroup for illustration purposes. Of course your situation will differ.
Within our haplogroup project we have proved that those with close ySTR matches also appear to have relatively close (pun intended) ySNP paths of descent down through the eons.
The three strategies from which you can choose going forward depend on your genealogical goals and the amount of disposable cash you can use to feed this addiction. This is clearly not the case where one strategy is the best fit for all.
Those three strategies are:
- to test one SNP at a time and hope, by lucky guess or the process of elimination, to document one's actual SNP trail;
- to take one of the NextGen comprehensive ySNP tests such as FTDNA's BIG Y or Full Genomes Y Elite 2.0; or
- to test with one of the bundled panels that are being assembled by various labs.
Of course you can choose a 4th option -- none of the below. That would be to travel through ySNP-land vicariously as we have been doing in this post and the post that preceded it. However, if you wish to further explore your own situation, I would encourage you to chose ONE of the strategies below and not to flip-flop back and forth between them.
Testing individual SNPs
- The strategy that appears to be the least expensive at the beginning can become the most expensive over the long term. Both FTDNA and YSEQ offer single SNP tests for thousands of SNPs. To employ this strategy you choose a SNP to be tested from a catalog list of those offered. If you choose wisely, you may be able to advance your search for a modest cost. However, if you are ordering single SNP tests at random you can easily spend more, over time, than you would by starting with a more comprehensive test in the beginning. Ordering single tests in sequence is also time consuming because you really should order one at at time, wait weeks for the results and then decide whether another single SNP test would be useful. Single tests are currently $39 at FTDNA and about half that at YSEQ. Both are legitimate labs. FTDNA is in Houston, TX, and YSEQ is in Berlin, Germany. YSEQ is a nimble two person operation that specializes in yDNA. FTDNA offers more comprehensive DNA testing products and services including easy integration into thousands of volunteer led projects.
- Your needs may better by hanging on to the money you have available now and waiting until you can afford a more comprehensive test. While the single SNP testing above is somewhat like dispatching a census taker to a specific location to see in a given SNP is negative or positive, the more comprehensive testing is more similar to taking satellite photographs of the 58 million or so SNPs along your Y chromosome. Many passes are made and stitched together by a computer algorithm. While it may not be as exact in every case as the individually targeted SNP testing (Sanger), it is certainly more cost effective and gives results for locations which at present have no single SNP test yet available. At this writing the listed price for BIG Y is $575 and Y Elite 2.0 is $775. The latter is more comprehensive although both will give most genetic genealogists more data than they can process. FTDNA will not sell such advanced tests to anyone who does not yet have STR test results or Geno 2.0 results. Full Genomes has no such entry requirement. These comprehensive tests have the added advantage of yielding not only a haplogroup designation but providing a list of unique SNPs that may be approaching offering a terminal SNP that could serve the same family identifying function that did the coats of arms of old.
- The newest commercial offerings to ySNP chasers are a wide variety of "panels". These are bundles that offer many tests of individual SNPs in one or two steps to narrow in on a specific haplogroup. These are offered by both YSEQ and FTDNA and generally are priced about $88 to $120. While these can screen many SNPs at one time, they generally only identify only one or two SNPs along your migratory path. Buyers should beware that such offerings actually have potential benefit for them.
In the last analysis the advice posted in the FTDNA learning center:
Please order SNPs with the help of an expert, if you aren’t sure which SNP(s) will benefit your research.
Before ordering, you should ask the advice of an expert on your haplogroup and subclade. We recommend joining an appropiate [sic.] Y-DNA Haplogroup group project. You may then consult the administrators.
Happy SNPing, but let the buyer beware!