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Family Tree DNA


When talking to the Family Tree DNA I asked if I did a special article about them would they give me a free test and they kindly agreed :-)  I'm working with Leah Wark to do this and I very much appreciate her help.  Even before I asked her about this article she had been most helpful.

The Test

I received the test kit by FedEx and this is what it looked like...


The complete kit came in the grey envelope and they supply an addressed jiffy bag for you to return your samples. You'll note your ID number is on everything so nothing should become separated.


As well as a welcome letter and instructions on how to do the test the sample kit came in the clear plastic envelope the contents of which are show here. It also includes a release form for you to sign as in the event of them finding a match they will then contact you. Also note there are three sample brushes and you are asked to do all three with a 2-4 hour gap between each sample being taken.

Here is the documentation that comes with the kit...

The actual sampler sticks are neat as they have a wee plunger that when you have completed the scrubbing of your inside cheek you simple put the stick gently into the top of the sampler tube and when you press the syringe like plunger it just pops in and the rest of the stick become separated and you just dispose of it.

Questions

These are the questions I asked the Family Tree DNA and the answers they sent me back.

Q1.

Given that lots of people these days are getting interested in Genealogy do you think it would be a good idea for parents to get their DNA analysed so it can be recorded for future generations and if so/not why?

This can be a great gift to future generations.  So often there is a dead-end in the paper trail and DNA tests can only help overcome brick walls if there are available test takers from a line.  I asked my father to test because he has no brothers and no sons and I want to preserve the genealogical information in his Y-chromosome.  Plus, he and I have had a great time comparing against others and discussing our family history!

Q2.

There seems to be various DNA standards such as 12, 25, 37 and 67 markers. What is the difference and which one would you advise people to take and why?

The number of markers you test depends on what you are trying to learn.  If you are interested in the deep ancestral origin of your line (Native American, Middle Eastern, European, African, etc.), for example, you might only want to test 12 markers.  But if you also want to compare against others in the database and learn whether you have any close matches, you will probably want to test 25 or 37 markers.  

Most people don't need 67 markers at this time.  This test is one that larger groups might find useful when trying to differentiate between different related lines.  In other words,  it is generally most useful when trying to find differences to distinguish between people with very close results. 

Q3.

Were you to take a 12 or 25 marker test can that also be used at a later date to upgrade to a 37 or 67 marker test or would you need to send in another kit?

Yes, the sample can be used at a later date!  We store the sample for 25 years so that you can upgrade or add on additional tests without needing to submit a new sample. We will simply run the additional testing on the sample we already have. This can be especially useful if an older relative is no longer available to test. 

Q4.

As Electric Scotland is the No.1 web site when it comes to the history of Scotland and the Scots & Scots-Irish we get many emails asking if we can help identify their name with a Scottish clan. Can DNA help in this process? 

Many clan members and individuals with clan names have tested with Family Tree DNA.  In fact, we have the largest database of its kind in the world  with over 3,600 "one-name projects".  Several of our projects focus on one or more clan names.  We can compare your Y-DNA signature against the database and let you know what surnames you are matching.

Q5.

Given that the spelling of a name is often different from the original can DNA help to find out the origin of the person?

This is one excellent reason to join a surname project.  As I mentioned, these projects most often include related variants of a name.  Although your DNA by itself won't tell you about the spelling of your name or how it was changed, you might find something out by sharing information with your matches.  Surname projects provide a way for males sharing similar names to compare against one another and share genealogical information by working together. 

Q6.
A recent article from Iceland claimed that through DNA studies 60% of the women in Iceland came from Scotland.  Can your DNA results confirm if you have a Scottish or Celtic background and if so how do you identify that?

From our own testing experience, we know that the exact same results are often found in multiple countries due to migrations over time, which makes determining a country of origin solely from DNA testing very difficult at best.  However, if your DNA results match another person with a similar surname or match at a large number of markers, and that other person knows his country of origin, this would essentially identify your country of origin.  Additionally, haplogroups (automatically predicted in all Y-DNA tests) help identify mutations that are characteristic of population groups and their migration patterns. This  can give hints whether a person living in Scotland today, for example, could be descended from Vikings that invaded the area several centuries ago.

Q7.

We are told that many Native American Indians have Scottish blood due to the inter-marriage of especially Scottish Highlanders into the Indian Tribe. We know for example that John Ross, chief of the Cherokees for some 36 years, was 90% Scottish and 10% Cherokee. Are there any parts of the DNA that can show if you also have Native American links?

Yes, we can show if your line is Native American in origin.  It is important to remember though that our tests are looking at your direct line only.  This is what allows us to make comparisons between participants.  The tests will only show the single origin of the direct line tested.  To confirm Native American ancestry you should determine who the original Native American ancestor is in your  family tree and then trace down his or her direct line to someone today who can test.   

Q8.

I'm told you have a special study for Niall of the Nine Hostages in Ireland. Can you tell me something about this study?

Actually, Trinity College performed this study.  They found that a significant percentage of men in Ireland (and quite a few in Scotland) share the same Y-DNA signature.  The results suggest that Niall may be the ancestor of 1 in 12 Irishmen.

This signature is found  in 1.03% of the Family Tree DNA database.  You will be automatically compared against this signature when you take a Y-DNA test. 

To learn more about this study visit http://www.familytreedna.com/matchnialltest.html.

Q9.

Many Scottish names start with Mac or Mc or M' and I wondered if you had means of searching for any name starting with all three versions or would you need to search for each name?

Our projects typically include several variants of a name or names.  For example, you can search by Donald, McDonald, MacDonald, MacDonell, etc. and find the Donald Clan project.  After you test your DNA, the system will search for matches regardless of surname or the spelling of the surname. 

Q10.

Are you doing any special studies on Scottish Clan Names and/or Scottish/Scots-Irish surames? 

We have over 3,600 surname projects.  We have many projects focusing on specific surnames, clans, and even regions in this area.  You can browse and search a complete list of surname and geographic projects available here:  http://www.familytreedna.com/surname.asp. 

Q11.

How big is Family Tree DNA in relationship to other similar companies and are you truly International?

We are the pioneer and leading company in the field of genetic genealogy.  The size of the database does matter and ours is more than five times the size of our competitors' with over 115,000 DNA records and growing at a rate of 4-5,000 a month. Yes, we are truly an international company.  Our scientists are the foremost in their fields, our database includes samples from all over the world, we provide the testing for the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project's public participation which has sold over 160,000 test kits worldwide, and we are also planning to begin offering our test kits and our website in multiple languages.  It is important to note that our partnership with National Geographic also allows for people that have tested with the Genographic Project to transfer their records into our database - which not only adds to the size of our database, but also the diversity. 

Q12.

Is there anything else that you feel we should know when it comes to Scots and Scots-Irish names in relationship to DNA studies through Family Tree DNA?

I think that the most important point when it comes to Scots and Scots-Irish names in relationship to DNA studies through Family Tree DNA is to remember that having the largest number of clan projects and members gives you the best chance of finding matches - that's the strength of Family Tree DNA in addition, of course, to our science. 

 I believe we've covered the major points, but please don't hesitate to contact us at info@familytreedna.com with any questions.   Remember, DNA is the "gene" in genealogy!

Cheers!


Results

On 12 December I got in an email telling me...

New Y-DNA1-12 results have been posted for your Family Tree DNA Kit. If you ordered a Y-DNA25 or Y-DNA37 test, please note that the tests are processed in sections, and the remaining results will be posted within one to two weeks.

Follow the link below for more information at your Family Tree DNA personal page.

When I clicked on the link I found...

That I was in Haplogroup R1b1.

I'll try and learn more and then give an overview in simple terms.  Certainly when looking at my page I found that my Recent Ancestral Origins are:

12 Marker Y-DNA Matches

 

One Step Mutations

Country (Number of Entries)

Comment

Your Matches

Denmark (356)

-

1

England (10183)

-

14

France (1279)

-

1

Germany (4633)

-

1

Ireland (5464)

-

4

Northern Ireland (234)

-

1

Puerto Rico (147)

-

1

Russia (1828)

Ashkenazi

1

Scotland (4394)

-

2

Spain (1175)

-

3

United Kingdom (3411)

-

2

Wales (821)

-

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is rather interesting :-)

When it game to the Haplogroup the results included...

12 Marker Y-DNA Matches

 

One Step Mutations

Haplogroup

Country

Comment

Count

R1b1

Russia

Ashkenazi

1

R1b1

Unknown Origin

-

1

R1b1c

England

-

1

R1b1c

Ireland

-

2

R1b1c

Spain

-

1

 

Two Step Mutations

Haplogroup

Country

Comment

Count

R1b1

Austria

-

1

R1b1

England

-

7

R1b1

Germany

-

2

R1b1

Great Britain

-

1

R1b1

Iceland

-

1

R1b1

Ireland

-

3

R1b1

Norway

-

2

R1b1

Polynesia

Polynesian (European admixture)

1

R1b1

Russia

Ashkenazi

1

R1b1

Scotland

-

1

R1b1

Unknown Origin

-

5

R1b1c

England

-

5

R1b1c

France

-

1

R1b1c

Germany

-

3

R1b1c

Ireland

-

4

R1b1c

Norway

-

1

R1b1c

Scotland

-

2

R1b1c

Switzerland

-

1

R1b1c

Unknown Origin

-

7

R1b1c

Wales

-

1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Which again was quite interesting :-)

And my Y-DNA values are...

Locus

DYS#

Alleles

1

393

13

2

390

24

3

19*

14

4

391

11

5

385a

12

6

385b

14

7

426

12

8

388

12

9

439

11

10

389-1

12

11

392

13

12

389-2

29

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And there is more to study :-)

And so I now need to wait for a few more weeks to get my other test.

The above two graphics are scans of the certificates I received when the final tests were done and I also got 4 sheets which explained more about these results.


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