Genetic genealogy

Genetic genealogy

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Encyclopedia
Genetic genealogy is the application of genetics
Genetics
Genetics , a discipline of biology, is the science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms....

 to traditional genealogy
Genealogy
Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

. Genetic genealogy involves the use of genealogical DNA test
Genealogical DNA test
A genealogical DNA test examines the nucleotides at specific locations on a person's DNA for genetic genealogy purposes. The test results are not meant to have any informative medical value and do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders ; they are intended only to give genealogical...

ing to determine the level of genetic relationship between individuals.

History



The investigation of surname
Surname
A surname is a name added to a given name and is part of a personal name. In many cases, a surname is a family name. Many dictionaries define "surname" as a synonym of "family name"...

s in genetics can be said to go back to George Darwin
George Darwin
Sir George Howard Darwin, FRS was an English astronomer and mathematician.-Biography:Darwin was born at Down House, Kent, the second son and fifth child of Charles and Emma Darwin...

, a son of Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin
Charles Robert Darwin FRS was an English naturalist. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestry, and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.He published his theory...

. In 1875, George Darwin used surnames to estimate the frequency of first-cousin marriages and calculated the expected incidence of marriage between people of the same surname (isonymy). He arrived at a figure between 2.25% and 4.5% for cousin-marriage in the population of Great Britain, with the upper classes being on the high end and the general rural population on the low end. (His parents, Charles Darwin and Emma Wedgwood, were first cousins.) This simple study was innovative for its era. The next stimulus toward using genetics to study family history had to wait until the 1990s, when certain locations on the Y chromosome were identified as being useful for tracing male-to-male inheritance.

Dr. Karl Skorecki, a Canadian nephrologist of Ashkenazi parentage, noticed that a Sephardic fellow-congregant who was a Kohen
Kohen
A Kohen is the Hebrew word for priest. Jewish Kohens are traditionally believed and halachically required to be of direct patrilineal descent from the Biblical Aaron....

 like himself had completely different physical features. According to Jewish
Judaism
Judaism ) is the "religion, philosophy, and way of life" of the Jewish people...

 tradition, all Kohanim are descended from the priest Aaron
Aaron
In the Hebrew Bible and the Qur'an, Aaron : Ααρών ), who is often called "'Aaron the Priest"' and once Aaron the Levite , was the older brother of Moses, and a prophet of God. He represented the priestly functions of his tribe, becoming the first High Priest of the Israelites...

, brother of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

. Skorecki reasoned that if Kohanim were indeed the descendants of only one man, they should have a common set of genetic markers and should perhaps preserve some family resemblance to each other.

To test that hypothesis, he contacted Professor Michael Hammer of the University of Arizona
University of Arizona
The University of Arizona is a land-grant and space-grant public institution of higher education and research located in Tucson, Arizona, United States. The University of Arizona was the first university in the state of Arizona, founded in 1885...

, a researcher in molecular genetics and pioneer in Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 research. Their report in the Nature
Nature (journal)
Nature, first published on 4 November 1869, is ranked the world's most cited interdisciplinary scientific journal by the Science Edition of the 2010 Journal Citation Reports...

in 1997 sent shock waves through the worlds of science and religion. A particular marker was indeed more likely to be present in Jewish men from the priestly tradition than in the general Jewish population. It was apparently true that a common descent had been strictly preserved for thousands of years. (See Y-chromosomal Aaron
Y-chromosomal Aaron
Y-chromosomal Aaron is the name given to the hypothesised most recent common ancestor of many of the patrilineal Jewish priestly caste known as Kohanim . In the Torah, this ancestor is identified as Aaron, the brother of Moses...

). Moreover, the data showed that there were very few “non-paternity events
Non-paternity event
Non-paternity event is a term in genetic genealogy and clinical genetics to describe the case where the biological father of a child is someone other than who it is presumed to be. The presumption may be either on the part of the presumed father or by the physician...

”.

The first to test the new methodology in general surname research was Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes
Bryan Sykes is a former Professor of Human Genetics at the University of Oxford and a current Fellow of Wolfson College.Sykes published the first report on retrieving DNA from ancient bone...

, a molecular biologist at Oxford University. His study of the Sykes surname obtained valid results by looking at only four markers on the male chromosome. It pointed the way to genetics becoming a valuable assistant in the service of genealogy and history.

In April 2000, Family Tree DNA began offering the first genetic genealogy tests to the public. This offering marked the first time that a personal theory on the Y chromosome could be tested outside of an academic study. Additionally, Sykes’ concept of a surname study, which by this time had been adopted by several other academic researchers outside of Oxford, was expanded into online Surname Projects (an early form of social network) and the effort helped spread knowledge gained through testing to interested genealogists worldwide.

In 2001, Sykes went on to write the popular book The Seven Daughters of Eve
The Seven Daughters of Eve
The Seven Daughters of Eve is a book by Bryan Sykes that presents the theory of human mitochondrial genetics to a general audience...

, which described the seven major haplogroups of European ancestors. In the wake of the book's success, and with the growing availability and affordability of genealogical DNA testing, genetic genealogy as a field began growing rapidly. By 2003, the field of DNA testing of surnames was declared officially to have “arrived” in an article by Jobling and Tyler-Smith in Nature Reviews Genetics. The number of firms offering tests, and the number of consumers ordering them, had risen dramatically.

Another milestone in the acceptance of genetic genealogy is the Genographic Project. The Genographic Project is a five-year research study launched in 2005 by the National Geographic Society
National Geographic Society
The National Geographic Society , headquartered in Washington, D.C. in the United States, is one of the largest non-profit scientific and educational institutions in the world. Its interests include geography, archaeology and natural science, the promotion of environmental and historical...

 and IBM
IBM
International Business Machines Corporation or IBM is an American multinational technology and consulting corporation headquartered in Armonk, New York, United States. IBM manufactures and sells computer hardware and software, and it offers infrastructure, hosting and consulting services in areas...

, in partnership with the University of Arizona and Family Tree DNA. Although its goals are primarily anthropological, not genealogical, the project's sale by April 2010 of more than 350,000 of its public participation testing kits, which test the general public for either twelve STR markers on the Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 or mutations on the HVR1 region
Hypervariable region
A hypervariable region is a location within nuclear DNA or the D-loop of mitochondrial DNA in which base pairs of nucleotides repeat or have substitutions...

 of the mtDNA, has helped increase the visibility of genetic genealogy.

More state-of-the-art commercial laboratories now recommend testing at least 25 markers, since the more markers tested, the more discriminating and powerful the results will be. A 12-marker STR test is usually not discriminating enough to provide conclusive results for a common surname. Genetic laboratories such as Genebase and Family Tree DNA give the option of testing 67 Y-DNA Markers.

Annual sales of genetic genealogical tests for all companies, including the laboratories that support them, are estimated to be in the area of $60 million (2006).

Interpretation


Since the year 2000, dozens of relevant academic papers have been published, and thousands of private test results organised by surname study groups
Surname project
A surname DNA project is a genetic genealogy project which uses genealogical DNA tests to trace male lineage.Because surnames are passed down from father to son in many cultures, and Y-chromosomes are passed from father to son with a predictable rate of mutation, people with the same surname can...

 have been made available on the internet. The comparison of results may be complicated by the fact that some laboratories use different testing methods. Apparently differing results from two sources may in fact be identical, and vice-versa.

Paternal and maternal lineages via DNA testing


The two most common types of genetic genealogy tests are Y-DNA
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 (paternal line) and mtDNA (maternal line) genealogical DNA test
Genealogical DNA test
A genealogical DNA test examines the nucleotides at specific locations on a person's DNA for genetic genealogy purposes. The test results are not meant to have any informative medical value and do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders ; they are intended only to give genealogical...

s. Note that Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

 and Y-DNA are used interchangeably in this article.

These tests involve the comparison of certain sequences of the DNA of pairs of individuals in order to estimate the probability that they share a common ancestor in a genealogical time frame and, through the use of a Bayesian model published by Bruce Walsh, to estimate the number of generations separating the two individuals from their most recent common ancestor
Most recent common ancestor
In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

 or "mrca".

Y-DNA testing involves short tandem repeat
Short tandem repeat
A short tandem repeat in DNA occurs when a pattern of two or more nucleotides are repeated and the repeated sequences are directly adjacent to each other. The pattern can range in length from 2 to 5 base pairs and is typically in the non-coding intron region...

 (STR) and, sometimes, single nucleotide polymorphism
Single nucleotide polymorphism
A single-nucleotide polymorphism is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide — A, T, C or G — in the genome differs between members of a biological species or paired chromosomes in an individual...

 (SNP) testing of the Y-chromosome. The Y-chromosome is present only in males and reveals information strictly on the paternal line. These tests can provide insight into the recent (via STRs) and ancient (via SNPs) genetic ancestry. A Y-chromosome STR test will reveal a haplotype
Haplotype
A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

, which should be similar among all male descendants of a male ancestor. SNP tests are used to assign people to a paternal haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

, which defines a much larger genetic population.

mtDNA testing involves sequencing or testing the HVR-1 region, HVR-2 region or both. An mtDNA test may also include the additional SNPs needed to assign people to a maternal haplogroup—or even include the complete mtDNA.

Either Y-DNA or mtDNA test results can be compared to the results of others via private or public DNA databases.

Biogeographical and ethnic origins


Additional DNA tests exist for determining biogeographical
Biogeography
Biogeography is the study of the distribution of species , organisms, and ecosystems in space and through geological time. Organisms and biological communities vary in a highly regular fashion along geographic gradients of latitude, elevation, isolation and habitat area...

 and ethnic origin, but these tests have less relevance for traditional genealogy.

Genetic genealogy has revealed astonishing links between peoples. For instance, it has shown that the ancient Phoenicia
Phoenicia
Phoenicia , was an ancient civilization in Canaan which covered most of the western, coastal part of the Fertile Crescent. Several major Phoenician cities were built on the coastline of the Mediterranean. It was an enterprising maritime trading culture that spread across the Mediterranean from 1550...

n people were ancestors of much of the present-day population of the island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. Preliminary results from a study by Pierre Zalloua of the American University of Beirut
American University of Beirut
The American University of Beirut is a private, independent university in Beirut, Lebanon. It was founded as the Syrian Protestant College by American missionaries in 1866...

 and Spencer Wells
Spencer Wells
Spencer Wells is a geneticist and anthropologist, an at the National Geographic Society, and Frank H.T. Rhodes Class of '56 Professor at Cornell University. He leads The Genographic Project.-Education:...

, supported by a grant from National Geographic's Committee for Research and Exploration, were published in the October 2004 issue of National Geographic. One of the conclusions is that "more than half of the Y chromosome lineages that we see in today's Maltese
Maltese people
The Maltese are an ethnic group indigenous to the Southern European nation of Malta, and identified with the Maltese language. Malta is an island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea...

 population could have come in with the Phoenicians."

See biogeographic ancestry, genealogical DNA test
Genealogical DNA test
A genealogical DNA test examines the nucleotides at specific locations on a person's DNA for genetic genealogy purposes. The test results are not meant to have any informative medical value and do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders ; they are intended only to give genealogical...

 and population genetics
Population genetics
Population genetics is the study of allele frequency distribution and change under the influence of the four main evolutionary processes: natural selection, genetic drift, mutation and gene flow. It also takes into account the factors of recombination, population subdivision and population...

 (the study of the distribution of and change in allele frequencies
Allele frequency
Allele frequency or Gene frequency is the proportion of all copies of a gene that is made up of a particular gene variant . In other words, it is the number of copies of a particular allele divided by the number of copies of all alleles at the genetic place in a population. It can be expressed for...

).

Human migration


Genealogical DNA testing methods are also being used on a longer time scale to trace human migratory patterns
Human migration
Human migration is physical movement by humans from one area to another, sometimes over long distances or in large groups. Historically this movement was nomadic, often causing significant conflict with the indigenous population and their displacement or cultural assimilation. Only a few nomadic...

. For example, they have been used to determine when the first humans came to North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

 and what path they followed.

For several years, a number of researchers and laboratories from around the world have been sampling indigenous populations from around the globe in an effort to map historical human migration patterns. Recently, several projects have been created that are aimed at bringing this science to the public. One example, mentioned in History above, is the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project, which aims to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples from over 100,000 people across five continents. Another example is the DNA Clans Genetic Ancestry Analysis, which measures a person's precise genetic connections to indigenous ethnic groups from around the world.

Typical customers and interest groups


Male DNA testing customers most often start with a Y chromosome test to determine their father's paternal ancestry
Patrilineality
Patrilineality is a system in which one belongs to one's father's lineage. It generally involves the inheritance of property, names or titles through the male line as well....

. Females generally begin with a mitochondrial test to trace their ancient maternal lineage
Matrilineality
Matrilineality is a system in which descent is traced through the mother and maternal ancestors. Matrilineality is also a societal system in which one belongs to one's matriline or mother's lineage, which can involve the inheritance of property and/or titles.A matriline is a line of descent from a...

, which males often have tested for the same purpose.

A common consumer goal in purchasing DNA testing services is to acquire quantified, scientific linkage to a specific ancestral group. A compelling example of this motive is found in the expressed desires of some consumers to be proven to have Viking
Viking
The term Viking is customarily used to refer to the Norse explorers, warriors, merchants, and pirates who raided, traded, explored and settled in wide areas of Europe, Asia and the North Atlantic islands from the late 8th to the mid-11th century.These Norsemen used their famed longships to...

 paternal ancestry. In keeping with this marketplace demand, one British DNA testing service, Oxford Ancestors, offers a Y chromosome test purporting to assess whether given males are of "Viking stock." Those whose DNA falls into the designated haplogroup are issued Viking Descendant certificates by the testing service. The same DNA testing company participated in producing a televised documentary, "The Blood of the Vikings," in conjunction with the BBC
BBC
The British Broadcasting Corporation is a British public service broadcaster. Its headquarters is at Broadcasting House in the City of Westminster, London. It is the largest broadcaster in the world, with about 23,000 staff...

, which showed how DNA testing could reveal Viking ancestry.

The RootsWeb Genealogy-DNA Internet discussion group has a membership of 750 subscribers from around the world. Some subscribers have had various DNA tests performed and are seeking advice and guidance in interpreting their results. The list also includes administrators of DNA projects that examine surnames, geographic regions, or ethnic groups. The sophistication of subscribers ranges from expert to novice. In some cases, subscribers have been credited with making useful and novel contributions to knowledge in the field of genetic genealogy.

Paternal and maternal DNA lineages



Mitochondria are small organelle
Organelle
In cell biology, an organelle is a specialized subunit within a cell that has a specific function, and is usually separately enclosed within its own lipid bilayer....

s that lie in the cytoplasm
Cytoplasm
The cytoplasm is a small gel-like substance residing between the cell membrane holding all the cell's internal sub-structures , except for the nucleus. All the contents of the cells of prokaryote organisms are contained within the cytoplasm...

 of eukaryotic cells
Eukaryote
A eukaryote is an organism whose cells contain complex structures enclosed within membranes. Eukaryotes may more formally be referred to as the taxon Eukarya or Eukaryota. The defining membrane-bound structure that sets eukaryotic cells apart from prokaryotic cells is the nucleus, or nuclear...

, such as those of humans. Their primary purpose is to provide energy to the cell. Mitochondria are thought to be the vestigial remains of symbiotic bacteria
Bacteria
Bacteria are a large domain of prokaryotic microorganisms. Typically a few micrometres in length, bacteria have a wide range of shapes, ranging from spheres to rods and spirals...

 that were once free living. One indication that mitochondria were once free living is that they contain a relatively small circular segment of DNA
DNA
Deoxyribonucleic acid is a nucleic acid that contains the genetic instructions used in the development and functioning of all known living organisms . The DNA segments that carry this genetic information are called genes, but other DNA sequences have structural purposes, or are involved in...

, called mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Mitochondrial DNA is the DNA located in organelles called mitochondria, structures within eukaryotic cells that convert the chemical energy from food into a form that cells can use, adenosine triphosphate...

 (mtDNA). The overwhelming majority of a human's DNA is contained in chromosome
Chromosome
A chromosome is an organized structure of DNA and protein found in cells. It is a single piece of coiled DNA containing many genes, regulatory elements and other nucleotide sequences. Chromosomes also contain DNA-bound proteins, which serve to package the DNA and control its functions.Chromosomes...

s in the nucleus
Cell nucleus
In cell biology, the nucleus is a membrane-enclosed organelle found in eukaryotic cells. It contains most of the cell's genetic material, organized as multiple long linear DNA molecules in complex with a large variety of proteins, such as histones, to form chromosomes. The genes within these...

 of the cell, but mtDNA is an exception. Individuals inherit their cytoplasm and the organelles it contains exclusively from their mothers, as these are derived from the ovum
Ovum
An ovum is a haploid female reproductive cell or gamete. Both animals and embryophytes have ova. The term ovule is used for the young ovum of an animal, as well as the plant structure that carries the female gametophyte and egg cell and develops into a seed after fertilization...

 (egg cell) only, not from the sperm
Sperm
The term sperm is derived from the Greek word sperma and refers to the male reproductive cells. In the types of sexual reproduction known as anisogamy and oogamy, there is a marked difference in the size of the gametes with the smaller one being termed the "male" or sperm cell...

.

When a mutation
Mutation
In molecular biology and genetics, mutations are changes in a genomic sequence: the DNA sequence of a cell's genome or the DNA or RNA sequence of a virus. They can be defined as sudden and spontaneous changes in the cell. Mutations are caused by radiation, viruses, transposons and mutagenic...

 arises in mtDNA molecule, the mutation is therefore passed in a direct female line of descent. These rare mutations are derived from copying mistakes—when the DNA is copied it is possible that a single mistake occurs in the DNA sequence
DNA sequence
The sequence or primary structure of a nucleic acid is the composition of atoms that make up the nucleic acid and the chemical bonds that bond those atoms. Because nucleic acids, such as DNA and RNA, are unbranched polymers, this specification is equivalent to specifying the sequence of...

, an outcome which is called a single nucleotide polymorphism
Single nucleotide polymorphism
A single-nucleotide polymorphism is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide — A, T, C or G — in the genome differs between members of a biological species or paired chromosomes in an individual...

 (SNP).

Human Y chromosome
Y chromosome
The Y chromosome is one of the two sex-determining chromosomes in most mammals, including humans. In mammals, it contains the gene SRY, which triggers testis development if present. The human Y chromosome is composed of about 60 million base pairs...

s are male-specific sex chromosomes
XY sex-determination system
The XY sex-determination system is the sex-determination system found in humans, most other mammals, some insects and some plants . In this system, females have two of the same kind of sex chromosome , and are called the homogametic sex. Males have two distinct sex chromosomes , and are called...

; nearly all humans that possess a Y chromosome will be morphologically
Morphology (biology)
In biology, morphology is a branch of bioscience dealing with the study of the form and structure of organisms and their specific structural features....

 male. Y chromosomes are therefore passed from father to son; although Y chromosomes are situated in the cell nucleus, they only recombine
Genetic recombination
Genetic recombination is a process by which a molecule of nucleic acid is broken and then joined to a different one. Recombination can occur between similar molecules of DNA, as in homologous recombination, or dissimilar molecules, as in non-homologous end joining. Recombination is a common method...

 with the X chromosome at the ends of the Y chromosome; the vast majority of the Y chromosome (95%) does not recombine. When mutations (SNPs, and STR copying mistakes) arise in the Y chromosome, they are passed down directly from father to son in a direct male line of descent. The Y-DNA and mtDNA therefore share a certain feature: they both pass down unchanged except for mutations.

The other chromosomes, autosomes and X chromosomes in women, share their genetic material (called crossing over
Chromosomal crossover
Chromosomal crossover is an exchange of genetic material between homologous chromosomes. It is one of the final phases of genetic recombination, which occurs during prophase I of meiosis in a process called synapsis. Synapsis begins before the synaptonemal complex develops, and is not completed...

 leading to recombination) during meiosis
Meiosis
Meiosis is a special type of cell division necessary for sexual reproduction. The cells produced by meiosis are gametes or spores. The animals' gametes are called sperm and egg cells....

 (a special type of cell division
Cell division
Cell division is the process by which a parent cell divides into two or more daughter cells . Cell division is usually a small segment of a larger cell cycle. This type of cell division in eukaryotes is known as mitosis, and leaves the daughter cell capable of dividing again. The corresponding sort...

 that occurs for the purposes of sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction
Sexual reproduction is the creation of a new organism by combining the genetic material of two organisms. There are two main processes during sexual reproduction; they are: meiosis, involving the halving of the number of chromosomes; and fertilization, involving the fusion of two gametes and the...

). Effectively this means that the genetic material from these chromosomes gets mixed up in every generation, and so any new mutations are passed down randomly from parents to offspring.

The special feature that both Y-DNA and mtDNA share, above, preserves a "written" record of their mutations because neither DNA gets mixed up or randomized—mutations remain fixed in place on both types of DNA. Furthermore the historical sequence of these mutations can also be inferred. For example, if a set of ten Y chromosomes (derived from ten different men) contains a mutation, A, but only five of these chromosomes contain a second mutation, B, it must be the case that mutation B occurred after mutation A.

Furthermore all ten men who carry the chromosome with mutation A are the direct male line descendants of the same man who was the first to carry this mutation. The first man to carry mutation B was also a direct male line descendant of this man, but is also the direct male line ancestor of all men carrying mutation B. Series of mutations such as this form molecular lineages. Furthermore each SNP mutation may define a set of specific Y chromosomes called a haplogroup
Haplogroup
In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

.

All men carrying SNP mutation A form a single haplogroup, and all men carrying mutation B are part of this haplogroup, but mutation B (if a SNP) may also define a more recent haplogroup (which is a subgroup or subclade
Subclade
In genetics, subclade is a term used to describe a subgroup of a subgenus or haplogroup. It is commonly used today in describing genealogical DNA tests of human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups and human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups....

) of its own which men carrying only mutation A do not belong to. Both mtDNA and Y chromosomes or Y-DNA are grouped into lineages and haplogroups; these are often presented as tree-like diagrams.

Benefits


Genetic genealogy gives genealogists a means to check or supplement their genealogy results with information obtained via DNA testing. A positive test match with another individual may:
  • provide locations for further genealogical research
  • help determine ancestral homeland
  • discover living relatives
  • validate existing research
  • confirm or deny suspected connections between families
  • prove or disprove theories regarding ancestry
  • global culture awareness

Drawbacks


People who resist testing may cite one of the following concerns:
  • Cost
  • Quality of testing
  • Concerns over privacy
    Privacy
    Privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively...

     issues


Finally, Y-DNA and mtDNA tests each only trace a single lineage (one's father's father's father's etc. lineage or one's mother's mother's mother's etc. lineage). At 10 generations back, an individual has up to 1024 unique ancestors (fewer if ancestor cousins interbred) and a Y-DNA or mtDNA test is only studying one of those ancestors, as well as their descendants and siblings (same sexed siblings for Y-DNA or all siblings for mtDNA). However, most genealogists maintain contact with many cousins (1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc., with different surnames) whose Y-DNA and mtDNA are different, and thus can be encouraged to be tested to find additional ancestral DNA lineages.

Expected growth


Genetic genealogy is a rapidly growing field. As the cost of testing continues to drop, the number of people being tested continues to increase. The probability of finding a genetic match among the DNA databases should continue to improve. Laboratories and testing firms are engaging in active research and development that will allow for higher confidence intervals and better results interpretation, including historical interpretive reports and customized research.

Genetic distance among relatives


Where the genogram
Genogram
A genogram is a pictorial display of a person's family relationships and medical history. It goes beyond a traditional family tree by allowing the user to visualize hereditary patterns and psychological factors that punctuate relationships...

 or family tree
Family tree
A family tree, or pedigree chart, is a chart representing family relationships in a conventional tree structure. The more detailed family trees used in medicine, genealogy, and social work are known as genograms.-Family tree representations:...

 of individuals is known, it can be used to determine the genetic identity between individuals. It is often described as percentage of genetic identity, referring to the fraction of genome inherited from common ancestors, and not actual genomic identity, which is always approximately 99.9% identical from one human to another.

One method of calculating this genetic similarity is to do an inbreeding calculation by the path or tabular method and then multiply by 2, because any progeny would have a 1 in 2 risk of actually inheriting the identical alleles from both parents. For instance, a brother/sister relation gives 25% risk for two alleles to be identical by descent.

See also


  • Allele
    Allele
    An allele is one of two or more forms of a gene or a genetic locus . "Allel" is an abbreviation of allelomorph. Sometimes, different alleles can result in different observable phenotypic traits, such as different pigmentation...

  • Allele frequency
    Allele frequency
    Allele frequency or Gene frequency is the proportion of all copies of a gene that is made up of a particular gene variant . In other words, it is the number of copies of a particular allele divided by the number of copies of all alleles at the genetic place in a population. It can be expressed for...

  • Electropherogram
    Electropherogram
    An electropherogram is a plot of results from an analysis done by electrophoresis automatic sequencing.Electropherograms may be used for deriving results from:*genealogical DNA testing*paternity testing*DNA sequencing*Genetic fingerprinting...

  • Family name
    Family name
    A family name is a type of surname and part of a person's name indicating the family to which the person belongs. The use of family names is widespread in cultures around the world...

  • Genealogical DNA test
    Genealogical DNA test
    A genealogical DNA test examines the nucleotides at specific locations on a person's DNA for genetic genealogy purposes. The test results are not meant to have any informative medical value and do not determine specific genetic diseases or disorders ; they are intended only to give genealogical...

  • Genealogy
    Genealogy
    Genealogy is the study of families and the tracing of their lineages and history. Genealogists use oral traditions, historical records, genetic analysis, and other records to obtain information about a family and to demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members...

  • Genetic recombination
    Genetic recombination
    Genetic recombination is a process by which a molecule of nucleic acid is broken and then joined to a different one. Recombination can occur between similar molecules of DNA, as in homologous recombination, or dissimilar molecules, as in non-homologous end joining. Recombination is a common method...

  • Haplogroup
    Haplogroup
    In the study of molecular evolution, a haplogroup is a group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor having the same single nucleotide polymorphism mutation in both haplotypes. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup...

  • Haplotype
    Haplotype
    A haplotype in genetics is a combination of alleles at adjacent locations on the chromosome that are transmitted together...

  • Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups
    Human mitochondrial DNA haplogroups
    In human genetics, a human mitochondrial DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by differences in human mitochondrial DNA. Haplogroups are used to represent the major branch points on the mitochondrial phylogenetic tree...

  • Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups
    Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups
    In human genetics, a Human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroup is a haplogroup defined by differences in the non-recombining portions of DNA from the Y chromosome ....

  • Human mitochondrial genetics
    Human mitochondrial genetics
    Human mitochondrial genetics is the study of the genetics of the DNA contained in human mitochondria. Mitochondria are small structures in cells that generate energy for the cell to use, and are hence referred to as the "powerhouses" of the cell....

  • Human genetic clustering
    Human genetic clustering
    Human genetic clustering analysis uses mathematical cluster analysis of the degree of similarity of genetic data between individuals and groups to infer population structures and assign individuals to groups that often correspond with their self-identified geographical ancestry...

  • Most recent common ancestor
    Most recent common ancestor
    In genetics, the most recent common ancestor of any set of organisms is the most recent individual from which all organisms in the group are directly descended...

  • Short tandem repeat
    Short tandem repeat
    A short tandem repeat in DNA occurs when a pattern of two or more nucleotides are repeated and the repeated sequences are directly adjacent to each other. The pattern can range in length from 2 to 5 base pairs and is typically in the non-coding intron region...

     (STR)
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism
    Single nucleotide polymorphism
    A single-nucleotide polymorphism is a DNA sequence variation occurring when a single nucleotide — A, T, C or G — in the genome differs between members of a biological species or paired chromosomes in an individual...

     (SNP)
  • Y-STR
    Y-STR
    A Y-STR is a short tandem repeat on the Y-chromosome. Y-STRs are often used in forensics, paternity, and genealogical DNA testing.-Nomenclature:Y-STRs are assigned names by the HUGO gene nomenclature committee....

     (Y-chromosome short tandem repeat)
  • Y-chromosome haplogroups by populations
    Y-chromosome haplogroups by populations
    The following articles are lists of human Y-chromosome DNA haplogroups found in populations and various ethnic groups by regions or continents around the world based on relevant studies, and the samples have been taken from individuals identified by linguistic designation.General*Y-DNA haplogroups...

  • Non-paternity event
    Non-paternity event
    Non-paternity event is a term in genetic genealogy and clinical genetics to describe the case where the biological father of a child is someone other than who it is presumed to be. The presumption may be either on the part of the presumed father or by the physician...


Maps


(Flash
Adobe Flash
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Research facilities/institutions and organizations


Informational websites


Haplogroup and Surname Projects



Y chromosome (Y-DNA) testing


Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing