Family Tree DNA Announces Free Webinars

Family Tree DNA is now offering FREE live webinars.  Sign up for any or all that interest you.  Kudos to Elise Freidman for including information on X chromosome matching so quickly! There are also three pre-recorded webinars to watch at your convenience.  Don’t pass up these wonderful resources. January Schedule of Free Live Webinars Family Tree DNA Feature Launch: X Chromosome Matches in Family Finder Time: Tuesday, January 7, 2014 @ 12pm Central (6pm GMT) Registration: http://bit.ly/19Wohgg On January 2, 2014, Family Tree DNA launched an exciting update for Family Finder: X chromosome matches!  This webinar will provide a brief overview of the new tools on the Matches and Chromosome Browser pages for viewing and analyzing your X chromosome match information. myFTDNA: Managing Your Personal Account at Family Tree DNA Time: Thursday, January 9, 2014 @ 12pm Central (6pm GMT) Registration: http://bit.ly/19WorUP Learn your way around your personal myFTDNA account at Family Tree DNA! We’ll cover basic account settings, where to locate your results when they come in, how to upload a GEDCOM (family tree), how to update your Most Distant Ancestor information and map coordinates for your ancestral location, how to join projects and account privacy. (Note: This webinar does not cover interpreting your results. We have other webinars dedicated to understanding your results!) Family Tree DNA Results Explained, Part 3: Family Finder Time: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 @ 12pm Central (6pm GMT) Registration: http://bit.ly/196yt7L An information-packed webinar focusing on how to read and understand your Family Finder results. Learn about autosomal & X DNA inheritance, how Family Finder determines your relationship with your matches, how to use the Chromosome Browser, and much more!...

9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy – Day 1

Max Blankfeld opened the conference with a welcome.  Max talked about competition making for healthy growth.  This has been the best year ever and there are great things in the pipeline. In June of this year, what started as an acquisition became something that could be a guarantee of continuity for Family Tree DNA.  Three new people have been added to staff.  Nir Leibovich is the Chief Business Officer, David Mittelman is the Chief Scientific Officer, and Jason Wang is the Chief Technology Officer leading the Engineering Department. Max got a little bit emotional as he talked about people who have been great supporters of Family Tree DNA who are no longer with us.  He stressed that he really appreciates what they brought to the company and most importantly, their friendship.  He also sent best wishes to Bill Hurst for a speedy recovery. Bennett stepped up to join Max to talk about group administrators who have been with them for 10 years or more.  Each of these group administrators will receive a plaque to honor their years of commitment. Bennett talked a bit about the lab tours.  Approximately 60 people in total have or will attend lab tours during this conference period.  Bennett shared the news about the CAP certification.  This allows the company to justify the acquisition of some expensive instruments that will be beneficial to the genealogical community. The first speaker of the day was Amy McGuire, PhD, JD, of the Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine, presenting Am I My Brother’s Keeper?  DNA Identifiability and Obligations to Biological Relatives in Genetic Genealogy. ...

Get your DNA test here! A tour of the Family Tree DNA Lab

It’s that time of year again!  Genetic Genealogy enthusiasts have gathered at the Sheraton North Houston for the 9th Annual International Conference on Genetic Genealogy.  This year lab tours were offered on Friday as well as Monday, which is great for those who plan to fly out on Sunday.  Bennett Greenspan, President of Family Tree DNA, welcomed our group to the lab. The lab at Family Tree DNA is a fully functional five or six day a week lab.  Our first stop was the Pre-PCR area where DNA has not been amplified.  Once DNA is amplified, it never returns to this area.  Our group put on lab coats and anyone with open-toed shoes put on booties. Bennett explained that all of the tubes have a red cap instead of the old tethered cap style.  The machine shown below automatically fills each tube with the buffer that allows the sample to sit for long periods.  The buffer arrests any potential for bacterial growth while the DNA is in the tube.  About 400 per hour can be produced by this machine. The next robot extracts approximately 600 samples per day during one normal shift.  Around Christmas time the process is doubled in order to extract 1,200 samples per day. The liquid handling robot takes DNA, puts it into a daughter plate, and puts a primer mix and a master mix in the well.  Master mix is a neutral solution and the primer mix might be for any of the Y-DNA SNPs that have to be used for a confirmation purpose. DNA samples that arrived yesterday or the day before that have not...

Autosomal DNA Tests for Parents?

I have already taken an autosomal DNA test.  Should I test my parent(s)? The answer is YES!  Absolutely! Because of the random way in which autosomal DNA is inherited, each child only receives a portion of each parent’s DNA.  The child is made up of 50% from the mother and 50% from the father but if no parents are tested, matches for that other 50% of each parents’ DNA will not be represented.  That is why it is so important to test parents first, especially if funds are limited and age or health could be a factor. At Family Tree DNA, my mother has 290 Family Finder matches in the database as of today.  Applying the “in common with” filter and selecting my name, there are only 116 matches.  Of my mother’s 290 matches, my results only reflect 116 of them.  This means that 174 maternal matches would have never been discovered without testing my mother.  Applying the “in common with” between my mother and sister only yields 108 matches, which means my sister would have lost even more genetic data than I would have if my mother and I had not tested.  Keep in mind, those “in common with” match lists that my sister and I have are not identical.  We have each inherited different bits of autosomal DNA and will, therefore, have some matches in common and some different. The reason that I tested my sister is because my father is deceased.  If I had a complete set of parental autosomal DNA, I might do my own autosomal DNA test for entertainment, but there would not be a significant...

The Results are In: My Mother’s Cousin’s DNA

Most of my maternal heritage is English and Irish.  My mother has many Family Tree DNA Family Finder matches for her autosomal DNA but I cannot tell whether they came from her mother’s side or her father’s side.  In order to try to sort this out, I need to test as many known cousins as possible. My mother has a first cousin who is the child of her father’s sister.  By testing K, as I will refer to her, I can find matches in common, which is often referred to as triangulation.  The only known common ancestors between my mother and her cousin K are James and Helen, their common grandparents.  Therefore, any segments that match between them should be inherited from James and Helen, their common ancestors. Family Tree DNA offers a tool called a chromosome browser, which can be used to examine common segments of autosomal DNA.  The chart above depicts the 22 autosomes of K.  The areas that are highlighted in orange are areas that my mom and K share identically in common.  The areas in blue are the areas that my mother’s brother shares identically in common with K.  As you can see, some of the shared areas are the same and some are different.  This is because of the random way in which autosomal DNA is inherited.  My mom and uncle both received a random shuffle of autosomal DNA from each of their parents. Any place where my mom or my uncle matches with K can be attributed to James and Helen.  If I had only tested my mom or only tested my uncle, I would have...

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