Thursday, February 18, 2010

Newly Available Technique at FTDNA


Family Tree DNA has announced to current members that they can do autosomal testing of their DNA. This new test is called Family Finder by FTDNA. So here's a quick explanation of what that means. If you are a member of a surname project, such as the Taylor project, you have had y-DNA tested. This is the Y-Chromosome which is inherited from father to son throughout history. The minor changes that occur in that chromosome happen such that over generations family lines separate. Y-DNA is extremely useful to determine one's patrilineal lineage.

Similarly mt-DNA is testing the genetic material that comes only from one's mother. She got it from her mother and so on back in history. Mitochondrial DNA mutates more slowly than y-DNA, making it less useful in following one's ancestors in historical time, but more useful, perhaps, for deep ancestral investigation.

Autosomal DNA is the DNA in the 22 chromosomes that do not include the final 23rd chromosome that determines whether we are male or female. Thus the remaining 22 chromosomes have genetic pieces from all our ancestors, not limited to our father's direct paternal line or our mother's direct maternal line.

Family Tree DNA proposes to test your sample, should you request the test, and compare it with their database of samples. They assert that with this test you can locate genetic relatives in the database from as far removed as 5th cousins. This would include relatives unknown to you, who may have been lost to your version of your combined family history. While the new autosomal testing will be administered separately from the surname project to which you belong, it will provide useful information that may enhance your knowledge of your family tree. See the quote below from the FTDNA website:

"Surname projects can use Family Finder to better define branches in a family tree. By using Family Finder testing, close Y-chromosome and mt-DNA matches without traditional records may be assigned to a pedigree with greater confidence. Even more exciting, surname projects may now bring female cousins into the project as additional evidence."

Lalia Wilson for the Taylor Surname Project