Spelunking my DNA

Well, the very first results from my DNA spelunking have arrived. So far I have received only Y-chromosome 12-marker test; much more detailed tests will be available over the next weeks. I was not surprised to confirm that I am haplotype R1b. One interestingfinding was in the ethnic origin of currently living people who are exact genetic matches for me on the 12 genetic markers. As a percentage, more people from the Netherlands than anywhere else are exact (Y12) genetic matches for me. Then it is Scotland, England, and Ireland (in that order), which is no big surprise.

It is not uncommon to have exact 12 marker matches for people who do not have a recent common ancestor, so I expect the dutch to fall off in the 25 and 37 marker tests (and of course mtdna). The sample size for Netherlands is much smaller than the others(129 people).15 of those people are exact Y12 matches, which is nearly 12%. I doubt that 12% ofpeople from Netherlands match me on all Y12 markers, sothis suggeststhat the sample is skewed. On the other hand, no such pattern appears in other Northern European countries, so it is not purely random either. I am sure there is a good explanation for this skew, and I’ll be checking other databases as I get more complete tests.

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Update: All matches on Y25 and Y37 are via Scotland. Still Y-Chromosome only, so not representitive of mother, or father’s mother.

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Update: All tests now complete; including mtDNA HVR1+HVR2. I am mtDNA haplogroup T2, and it is no surprise to see HVR1 matches all over the map. I don’t think it’s possible to deduce anything about my ancestry from these matches, since matches could simply indicate parallel forks back 50 generations or more (although I got a good number ofNative American, Ashkenazi, and Czech in addition to the dominant Britain, which match my expectations to some degree). HVR2 matches so far confined to England and Germany; again nothigh enough fidelity to say much conclusively.

One pleasant result of this excursion is that I have helped two individuals get closer to identifying their male ancestors — in both cases the father was not known and the male ancestors were raised by stepfather under an adopted name; both around 1890. Both are Y37 matches, so it’s almost certain that the real father was an Allen (unless of course I am not an Allen prior to that date, which I believe is rather improbable). This is recent enough that it does not represent a very broad set of parallel forks, so I think it will be possible to find the truth here.

On balance, however, I think that the current set of alleles tested on both Y chromosome and mtDNA is still too coarse, and the number of people in the database too small to give as much information as I would like to see. I look forward to the day when sequencing is much more detailed and registration at birth is standard practice.

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