Posts filed under ‘my results’

It’s a family reunion on the internet

Now that I’ve received my results, I’ve had time to play around with the 23andMe social network. 23andMe provides you with much more than a genetic test: the infrastructure that the company offers to connect with other users is astounding.

23andMe has provided me with a list of potential relatives that are currently on the network through the Relative Finder tool. The tool allows me to look for shared DNA segments in order to predict common ancestors and the degrees of separation between us.

By using Relative Finder, I found that I have a lot of predicted third cousins, people I share great-great grandparents with, in the 23andMe network. However, the relationship could actually be anywhere from third to tenth cousins. According to 23andMe, there are 987 users that I am at some point related to. It is actually very common for Ashkenazi Jews, as I am, to be genetically closely related despite geographical distance (Kopelman).

Another feature is the genome-sharing tool. This tool allows me to compare my genomic information with other members of 23andMe to look for a percent similarity between us. I can also compare whether I and another user share genetic information that confers to specific phenotypic traits, but since I only have the ancestry edition of the 23andMe genetic test, these traits are limited to non-medical phenotypes such bitter tasting, circadian rhythm, and endurance. Genome sharing is not limited to the users that are identified by 23andMe as my “relatives.” Linda Avey, one of the original co-founders of 23andMe, is not on my list of potential cousins, but she graciously accepted my genome-sharing request and now I can compare my genomic information to hers.

Yet another networking opportunity provided by the site is the community discussion forums.  Here, members post in groups such as maternal and paternal haplotype groups, ethnicity groups, and geographical ancestry groups. On the discussion board, users compare family histories and common last names, ancestry success stories, and even medical histories.

This model of networking around genetics and health isn’t unique to 23andMe. Many companies are emerging that offer connectivity and empowerment tools to complement their health or genetics-related products and services. Financial analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers have also predicted that more companies like this will also emerge in the near future to capitalize on the trend of personalized medicine (PwC Health Research Institute).

Works cited in this post
Kopelman, Naama M. “Genomic Microsatellites Identify Shared Jewish Ancestry Intermediate between Middle Eastern and European Populations.” BMC Genetics 10.80 (2009). Print.
PwC Health Research Institute. The New Science of Personalized Medicine. Publication. PricewaterhouseCoopers, 17 Dec. 2009. Web. 20 Jan. 2010.


March 29, 2010 at 6:41 pm Leave a comment

And the results are in!

First, a little bit more about Phylogenetics

I spoke in the previous post about mtDNA and the estimated rate of mutation in the mitochondrial genome. Researchers have found that genetic variation in mtDNA can be grouped into distinct lineages, many of which are only found in certain parts of the world (Devor). Since mitochondria are passed only from mother to offspring, researchers have predicted the existence of a common mitochondrial ancestor, affectionately called “Mitochondrial Eve” (Devor). Extrapolating the mtDNA mutation rate, researchers have also predicted how long ago Mitochondrial Eve lived and how long ago the common lineages diverged (Cann).

The oldest haplogroups, L1, L2, and L3, originated in Africa. L3 then formed haplogroups M and N in Northeast Africa. Scientists believe that the original inhabitants of Europe and Asia had mitochondrial DNA from the M and N haplogroups and began colonizing the continents between 60,000 to 80,000 years ago. Haplogroups H, I, J, N1b, T, U,V, W, and X are descendents of haplogroup N and constitute the majority of mitochondrial haplogroups in Europe (Shriver).

My Results: Hi, I’m Haplogroup H3!

The European lineages, including haplogroup H, arrived in Europe 40,000 to 50,000 years ago, near the end of the Ice Age (Devor). According to 23andMe, the H3 haplogroup arose during the Ice Age in northern Iberia. At the end of the Ice Age, Haplogroup H3 migrated in two groups, one to present-day France and the British Isles and the other to Italy and Sardinia, and later to Hungary. Haplogroup H3 is also found throughout Western Europe due to the northward migrations after the conclusion of the Ice Age. H3 is extremely rare outside Europe (“Maternal Lineage”).

My Genetic Similarity Map

My results say that I am 67.69% Southern European, and more specifically, Italian. My results also say that I am 67.55% similar to Northern Europeans and 67.31% similar to Near Easterners. These results are not entirely unexpected, but pretty exciting nonetheless. I am obsessed with Italian food and all things Italy, and I couldn’t be happier to be ancestrally Italian.

Works Cited
Cann, Rebecca L., Mark Stoneking, and Allan C. Wilson. “Mitochondrial DNA and Human Evolution.” Nature 325 (1987): 31-35.
Devor, Eric J. Mitochondrial DNA. Publication. Integrated DNA Technologies, 2005. Web. 1 Mar. 2010.
“Maternal Lineage.” 23andMe. Web. 22 Mar. 2010.

March 23, 2010 at 5:03 pm 2 comments

The 23andMe genetic test

The 23andMe genetic ancestry test has come in the mail!

Inside the box I find very clear instructions, along with a test-tube and a funky looking spit-catching mouthpiece.

It’s pretty easy: spit (and spit, and spit, and spit until your cheeks hurt) in the tube, then seal it up and send it off to California!

And that’s it! I have to wait patiently for 2-4 weeks while 23andMe’s laboratory processes my sample. I think the waiting will be the most difficult part of this process.

March 4, 2010 at 4:03 pm Leave a comment

Embarking on a genetic adventure

Welcome to my blog!

This is my first post in what will be a chronicle of my genetic ancestry testing experience. I’ll be using the Ancestry testing service from 23andMe, which I’ll detail more in the next post. 23andMe is just one of many companies that offers genetic ancestry testing, a relatively new concept where one’s family history and geographical ancestry can be determined by DNA.

Genealogy has been around for ages and has appeared in a number of forms. Some have used genealogy to discover royal blood, to trace the history of a family surname, and to follow the lineages of a historic clan. Genealogy is still today a common pastime, especially popular in the 1970s and 1980s thanks to the book and subsequent television show Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Americans, and in particular African Americans, became more interested in the idea of tracing their families’ lineage. The rise of the internet brought yet more opportunities for genealogical research and family history discovery.

Genealogy has also developed from a hobby to a profession: one can join the American Society of Genealogists, be accredited or certified as a reputable genealogist, and be employed as an asset recovery tracer, historian, archivist, biographer, and more. But both amateur genealogists and professional genealogists alike are interested in the next wave of genealogy: genetic ancestry testing.

This will be the topic of my blog, and correspondingly, my final project for a graduate-level class taught at Duke University. I will investigate the background and use of genetic ancestry testing and the social network that has come to embrace and surround it. I will also become a subject in my own research by submitting my DNA sample to 23andMe to retrieve my own genetic ancestry  test results — the genomic information behind my family tree. I hope to meet others in the genetic ancestry test community, and maybe some long-lost relatives along the way.

Keep checking back for more posts on this exciting experience. Next up: sending in my DNA sample!

February 23, 2010 at 4:16 am Leave a comment



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