EX­PERT TIPS

Who Do You Think You Are? Magazine - - DNA TESTING -

• Check out the ISOGG Wiki ( isogg.org/ wiki) for a great range of re­sources. • Test your liv­ing rel­a­tives while you have the chance. Au­to­so­mal DNA is eas­ier to in­ter­pret if you test mul­ti­ple close rel­a­tives (par­ents, aunts and un­cles, sib­lings, first and se­cond cousins). • Up­load your au­to­so­mal DNA re­sults to ged­match.com for lots of great tools and to com­pare your re­sults with peo­ple who’ve tested with other com­pa­nies. • Use the au­to­so­mal DNA trans­fer pro­gram to add your An­ces­tryDNA re­sults to the Fam­ily Tree DNA data­base for a small fee. • Don’t take the “eth­nic­ity” re­sults too se­ri­ously or be sur­prised if you get dif­fer­ent re­sults from each com­pany. The re­sults are gen­er­ally only ac­cu­rate at the con­ti­nen­tal level. • Join the rel­e­vant sur­name, ge­o­graph­i­cal and hap­logroup projects at Fam­ily Tree DNA. The vol­un­teer ad­min­is­tra­tors will of­ten be able to help you.

Deb­bie Ken­nett is the au­thor of

and saliva sam­ple off to the United States for test­ing (see op­po­site page), I re­ceived an email to say that the re­sults were ready. Af­ter log­ging into my ac­count, I de­cided I would be­gin by look­ing at my ‘Eth­nic­ity Es­ti­mate’.

The first thing that struck me was just how many dif­fer­ent re­gions were listed. While it wasn’t a shock to see that 32 per cent of my eth­nic­ity was given as ‘Asia East’, an ad­di­tional 13 per cent marked ‘Poly­ne­sia’ was also in­cluded in the mix – pos­si­bly due to the long his­tory of im­mi­gra­tion be­tween the is­lands and the Philip­pines.

But the break­down of my Euro­pean her­itage, which I as­sumed had been passed down by my father, con­tained more sur­prises. Scrolling down the page, I found that this in­cluded Scan­di­navia (15 per cent), Ire­land (12 per cent) and Fin­land/North-west Rus­sia (eight per cent). Only two per cent was ac­tu­ally listed as ‘Great Bri­tain’.

How­ever, in­ves­ti­gat­ing the sci­ence be­hind the test helped me make sense of my re­sults. Dur­ing the course of my re­search, I found that when a cus­tomer’s saliva ar­rives in the lab, more than 700,000 ge­netic mark­ers are iden­ti­fied within the DNA and com­pared against a mas­sive data­base of sam­ples taken from peo­ple who live all around the globe. By see­ing what you have in com­mon, An­ces­tryDNA can work out rough (al­though not ex­act) per­cent­ages of your eth­nic­ity.

Of course, it is also im­por­tant to re­mem­ber that eth­nic­ity does not con­form to the bound­aries of mod­ern-day coun­tries. Even though my im­me­di­ate pa­ter­nal an­ces­tors hailed from south­ern Eng­land, they could have in­her­ited and passed on the DNA from fore­bears who mi­grated to the Bri­tish Isles hun­dreds of years ear­lier.

Ad­di­tion­ally, de­spite re­ceiv­ing 50 per cent of my DNA from my dad and 50 per cent from my mum, my par­ents will not have in­her­ited and passed down the full range of ge­netic ma­te­rial from pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tions – what I have ended up with is ran­dom.

Hav­ing shared my find­ings on Face­book, I clicked through to the ‘DNA Matches’ sec­tion of the An­ces­tryDNA web­site. Here, I was greeted with a long list of fel­low users who had been iden­ti­fied as po­ten­tial cousins, ranked by the strength of our con­nec­tion.

Un­for­tu­nately, my top match (a po­ten­tial fourth cousin) did not have their fam­ily tree up­loaded to the site. Al­though sev­eral peo­ple fur­ther down the list did have trees avail­able to browse, so far I have not come across any names (at least on my father’s side) that would sug­gest who our com­mon an­ces­tors were.

But far from be­ing dis­ap­pointed, the fact that An­ces­tryDNA matched me with any­one at all left me feel­ing both ex­cited and in­trigued. Could my new­found cousins be de­scended from my mum’s elu­sive an­ces­tors?

To find out, my mum has now also taken the test and we are ea­gerly await­ing the re­sults. Not only will this give me an idea of what I have in­her­ited from each of my par­ents (mum could be re­spon­si­ble for some of my Euro­pean DNA), but it means I will be able to see if any of our cousin matches are the same. Per­haps this could bring us closer to find­ing the iden­tity of her father.

I’m re­ally ex­cited to see what I dis­cover next – maybe this ge­netic ge­neal­ogy lark is not so scary af­ter all...

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