Genetic Genealogy Idea: Tagging DNA!

In the past few weeks, I have spent considerable time contacting DNA matches in 23andMe as first steps towards looking for verifiable connections.  As I go through this process, I know there must be an easier way to leverage all the work we as individual 23andMe users are doing on the site.  For my day job I deal in knowledge management and let me tell ya – there is a lot of knowledge yet to be managed in 23andMe and it gave me an idea.

Currently, when 23andMe has identified someone with whom I share a DNA segment with, time is spent between myself and my match to share our family tree information in the search for shared ancestry.  Sometimes, it may be possible to verify the exact relationship and other times it may not pan out.  Many factors must be considered when evaluating the shared DNA and for the lucky ones, those relationships can be determined.  For example, Randy Majors describes an inspiring success story in verifying a common ancestral couple (his 6th  great-grandparents) with a 23andMe match.  For the sake of argument, let’s pretend that I too were descended from his 6th great-grandparents and had the same DNA segment match as he and his distant cousin.  As the process now stands, despite the fact that Randy and his distant cousin KNOW their shared DNA segment came from that couple, the only way I would be able to find out would be to contact Randy & the distant cousin (assuming they both showed up as matches for me) and go through the long and tedious process of comparing information and/or doing triangulation.

This is where my idea comes in:

  • what if after Randy & the distant cousin confirm this couple as the origin of their shared DNA they were able to “tag” that DNA segment with information and metadata about the couple and add that information to the 23andMe website so that it could be USED BY OTHERS.
  • what if everyone who confirmed relationships could tag DNA segments to specific individuals — imagine how genea-rich with information 23andMe would become!
  • what if when I logged into 23andMe I were presented with names/dates/locations of specific people based on computer aggregation and analysis of all the “tags” that successful matches had been able to identify and associate with DNA segments.
Thus, for the next person who matches Randy at that segment, 23andMe would be able to show them the match to Randy at that location, but also be able show information about the people from which Randy inherited the DNA.  Would that not be awesome!
Of course there are issues to be considered but ultimately I do think genetic genealogy needs to head in this direction and I would like for it to happen sooner rather than later.  Let’s leverage the knowledge of the 23andMe user database and combine it with computing power to facilitate the tagging and presentation to others. They already do it for health traits and conditions so why not for genealogy?
A natural question that comes to my mind is who would do this first? 23andMe has an obvious health focus and I wonder how committed they are to the genealogy aspect of DNA testing. But, Ancestry.com is now getting into the autosomal DNA testing game and Ancestry.com already has the technology to allow users to tag  specific individuals across their massive database of records.  Imagine them making it happen with DNA.  For this reason, I know that as soon as I can, I will be making sure I get my DNA info in the Ancestry database also.   Think of the potential!!!

What do you think of this idea?

 

 

 

 

 

23AndMe Results: Kalonji’s Paternal Haplogroup

On September 8th, I posted my first blog post about genetic testing results from 23andMe regarding Kalonji’s maternal haplogroup.  This time, I’m posting about his paternal haplogroup.

Kalonji’s paternal haplogroup is E1b1a7a.

This haplogroup is subgroup of E1b1a.  E1b1a has its origins in sub-saharan Africa.  This of course is not surprising to us given Kalonji’s descent from former slaves.  The 23andMe site shares the information that

E1b1a is also the most common haplogroup among African-American male individuals. About 60% of African-American men fall into this haplogroup primarily due to the Atlantic slave trade, which drew individuals from western Africa and Mozambique, where E1b1a is accounts for the majority of men.

At this point, I am unsure of what to take away from this, except, that as Kalonji gets matches in Relative Finder knowing the haplogroup will help differentiate shared ancestry among paternal vs. maternal lines.   The Relative Finder feature in 23andMe is awesome! The next posts will describe our experiences with that.  Stay tuned :-)

23AndMe Results: Kalonji’s Maternal Haplotype

This blog post is going to be the start of  short series of posts I will do about my husband’s 23andMe DNA testing results.  We were able to get the kit for free because the company is trying to expand their database of African-American DNA.  Currently, most of the health results available are based on a mostly European population.  This initiative is part of their Roots Into the Future Initiative.

There is so much to go over his results, so I’ll have to spend some time working my way through them.  For now, let me start with his maternal lineage.

Kalonji’s maternal haplotype group is: L2a1a2

Kalonji's Maternal Haplogroup

This haplogroup is a subgroup of the L2 Haplogroup.  L2 is the most common haplogroup among Africans and African-Americans.  From what I have read, the origin of L2a1a2 seems to be West or NorthWest Africa, but it underwent an expansion with Bantu migrations and is associated with SouthEast Africa. Currently, the highest percentages of Africans of this haplogroup are in the Mozambique area (36%).  The haplotype is also found in Afro-Brazilian populations too.  You can see in the image that the darker spots on the map correlate to an are in West African and then right around Mozambique.

I don’t believe this is enough information for us to know with any certainty where in Africa Kalonji’s ancestors may have lived, but I am continuing to do more research.  From a link shared in the 23andMe community forums, downloaded a spreadsheet with very specific genome data and there also seems to be an association with the Mozambique area.   I guess we will have to get him tested with African Ancestry to see if we can potentially get a tribe match.   More to come soon!

 

 

 

23andMe Part 1: Kit Completed!

On July 26th, 23andMe announced a research project called Roots Into the Future.  One of my coworkers sent me the announcement and I was quite excited.  The program is giving away 10,00 free DNA kits to African-Americans so that they can enhance their database.  I quickly signed up and yesterday received my notice to go ahead an order my free kit.   They are offering both health & ancestry testing.

To my delight, the box arrived today!  Since my sister also got a free kit, I am using mine for my husband.  For years he has wanted to have a clearer understanding of his African-ancestry and we are going to keep our fingers crossed that the testing will be able to tell us more.

We’ve done his saliva sample and am sending the kit back tomorrow. Hopefully, within the next 8 weeks, we’ll have more to share.  For now, I will spend the time before then prepping and looking for others to connect with online who may be part of this initiative.