Saturday, February 23, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Genome-Wide Comparison

Now that the test results for both my personal and my maternal grandmothers tests are available, I've been using a lot of the features to run comparisons between our results. One of my new favorite areas to play around in has been the Family Inheritance section.

My favorite sub-feature is the GrandTree section. When placing myself and my maternal grandmother in the dummy family tree, it allows me to see which traits I inherited on my maternal side from my grandfather and grandmother. I've included the results from select traits below:

Weight/Body Mass Index
Genes related to weight/body mass index.
  • Maternal grandfather: 38% 
  • Maternal grandmother: 62% 
  • This makes sense as I do have the build of my maternal grandmother's family.

Immune System Compatibility
Genes related to histocompatibility.
  • Maternal grandfather: 100% 
  • Maternal grandmother: 0%
  • Hopefully G-Ma doesn't need an organ transplant from me... I doubt with these results that I would be a match. Also, my immune system is crappy... thanks Grandpa!

Genes related to skin, eye, and hair color.
  • Maternal grandfather: 38% 
  • Maternal grandmother: 62%
  • I do have my Grandma's skin color and our eyes are similar in color too. 

Genome-Wide Comparison
Lastly, I was able to run a genome-wide comparison that analyses 22 pairs of autosomal chromosomes. For this purpose, the sex chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA are excluded.
  • Maternal grandfather: 48% 
  • Maternal grandmother: 62%
  • My maternal grandmother and I share a special connection, so it makes me happy to know that even when distance separates us, she's always walking around with me. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Test 4 Results

For the past few years my research has primarily focused on my maternal lines for two simple reasons: that side of the family has always been interested in our family history and I had more information to start my research with.

Last summer, I started to dive deeper into my paternal family history and asked my father if he would be willing to take a DNA test. Being the amazing "I'll do anything for my girls" father that he is, he said yes and we ordered a test through the first release of's AncestryDNA.

My family has previously tested with FamilyTreeDNA and 23andMe and I wanted to see how it compared. The AncestryDNA test allows both the maternal and paternal lines to be tested by analyzing the entire genome (all 23 chromosomes). Our test with FamilyTreeDNA was taken by my uncle and we ended up with Y-chromosome and mtDNA results. Our tests with 23andMe were taken by myself and my grandmother and only reported on our mtDNA.

We received my father's DNA results several months ago. At that time I should have posted about the results, but I shared them with my family and never got around to posting them until now (I know...!).

AncestryDNA Test Results
The results are in and there were quite a few surprises. As far as I have been able to trace in my limited (3 to 4 generations past my father) research, his family seems to hail from Germany and the British Isles.

Central European = 71%
  • I was not surprised by these result as it appears the majority of my father's paternal branches can be traced back to Germany or Austria. 
Scandinavian = 21%
  • I was quite surprised to see such a high percentage of Scandinavian ethnicity.
  • I have not found any documents that document locations in Norway, Sweden, or Denmark (Ancestry's "Scandinavian" locations).
Uncertain = 8%
  • This is quite a large percentage! Most of the results I have viewed have between 0% and 3%.
  • Maybe this is where the British lines come in, but it would seem odd that such a well known ethnicity would not show up.
In conclusion, it looks like I have a lot more research to do to help uncover the Scandinavian results. Also, I hope that as more people are tested that his uncertain results decrease.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Comparing Top Relative Surnames

This is a follow-up to my two posts on our individual results from 23andMe's Top Relative Surname finder that shows the popularity of the surnames in our relative finder matches. I currently have 988 people in my relative finder, while my maternal grandmother only has 986. Our numbers are different because the test incorporates both maternal and paternal lines into it's results.

In my previous posts about this feature, I just shared our top five surnames. The service actually let's you view any surname that is listed at least five times in the profiles of your matches. I currently have 124 surnames and my grandmother has 51.

Below I've listed the top 10 surnames in my grandmother's list and have indicated in parentheses where they were found on my list. It's interesting to note that six of her top 10 surnames were not in my list.
  1. Wells (#84 in my list)
  2. Palmer 
  3. Mitchell (#81 in my list)
  4. Johnston
  5. Hunt
  6. MacDonald
  7. Adams
  8. Moore (#109 in my list)
  9. Hansen
  10. Smith (#115 in my list)
Below I've listed the top 10 surnames in my list and have indicated in parentheses where they were found on my grandmother's list. It's interesting to note that only two of my top 10 surnames were in her list.
  1. Pragle
  2. Gawton
  3. Andriessen
  4. Garner
  5. Walker (#17 in her list)
  6. Allen (#48 in her list)
  7. Payton
  8. Custer
  9. Peyton
  10. Gibbs
As you can see, even though we are closely related, our results are quite different. These results should be fluid and I will explore them periodically to see how they have shifted.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Test 2 Top Surname Results

Having recently posted about my personal 23andMe Top Relative Surnames, I figured I would also post about those from my maternal grandmother's test. The Top Relative Surnames feature shows how popular the surnames in my relative finder matches. Currently, my grandma's relative finder section is showing the results for 986 participants.

Her top five surnames are Wells, Palmer, Mitchell, Johnston, and Hunt. In the image, the count column shows how many times the name is shown in the profiles of my matches, while the enrichment columns shows how common a surname is in my entire relative finder matches.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Test 3 Top Relative Surnames

I was recently looking back over my personal 23andMe genetic genealogy results (Test 3) and discovered an interesting feature: Top Relative Surnames. The Top Relative Surnames feature shows how popular the surnames in my relative finder matches. Currently, my relative finder section is showing the results for 988 participants.

My top five surnames are Pragle, Gawton, Andriessen, Walker, and Garner. The count column shows how many times the name is shown in the profiles of my matches, while the enrichment columns shows how common a surname is in my entire relative finder matches.

I'm interest to see how often this changes as more people are tested and added to the database.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Test 3 Results

Those of you who know me well, know that I'm a bit competitive and I don't like sitting on the sidelines. This trait has crossed over into my family history research and I ordered a genetic genealogy test for myself. I know that my maternal like has been thoroughly tested, but I just couldn't stop myself. I ordered the test, took it, and then waited impatiently for my results to come in. (Patience is not one of my virtues!)

Knowing my maternal grandmother had just taken the same test a few months earlier, I wasn't surprised to see that my haplogroup results matched hers exactly: H2a2a. This has now been confirmed through three different tests, and I think it's safe to say that it won't change any time soon. :D

The Ancestry Composition (provides you with a percentage breakdown of your DNA in the 22 worldwide populations) results were a different story. These results are a combination of both my maternal and paternal lines, so I knew they wouldn't match G-Ma's exactly, but I wasn't expecting the results.

My results showed that I am 99.7% European, 0.1% East Asian & Native American, <0.1% South Asian, and 0.2% unassigned.  I was pretty confident that my European percentage would be that high, but was not prepared to see East Asian, Native American, or South Asian.

Obviously, these results are reflected from my paternal line and I am not sure my reach will ever be deep enough to match ancestors with these areas. Of course, that's not going to stop my from trying and explore this through the relative finder area of the 23andMe database.

While I'm not going to share them in detail here, I was even more intrigued by the health results of my test. It broke down my disease risk, carrier status, traits, and drug response. My disease risk showed elevated risks for things that have effected my family members. My carrier status showed that I had absent variables for many of the genetic variations that have been strongly linked to diseases. My traits correctly guessed the detail of my amount of hair curl and hair color. And lastly, my drug response showed "greatly increased odds" of toxicity to a drug that I have taken and to which I have had a sever allergic reaction. Quite fascinating...

Friday, February 15, 2013

Genetic Genealogy | Test 2 Results

After receiving the results of the genetic genealogy test my maternal uncle took, I was excited to branch out and see if anyone else wanted to take a test. Being new to the genetic genealogy world, we wanted to have my grandmother take a test to see if the results matched those from the first test. With this in mind, we ordered a test through a different company.

I had been seeing a lot of good things online about a company called 23andMe and so that was the company we selected for this test. The test that 23andMe uses not only calculates your ancestry breakdown, but also does a health breakdown that tells you what diseases you are at greater risk for and what traits are common in people with a similar genetic background.

As I live a thousand miles away, my dear mother (aka Saint Marla) walked G-Ma through the test and dropped it in the mail. A couple months later I received an email stating that her results were in.  While the nerdy science girl in me really wanted to dive into the health analysis, I headed over to the ancestry results page first. 

As expect, the results of this test confirmed the haplogroup results from our first test. Grandma's maternal line clearly belongs to the H2 subgroup: H2a2a. The map for this test (click on the image to enlarge) looks a bit different from the first test and I found this one to much easier to understand.

The next section I explored was her Ancestry Composition. The ancestry composition provides you with a percentage breakdown of your DNA in the 22 worldwide populations. This result combines both your maternal and paternal lines and reflects where your ancestors were roughly 500 years ago (before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes  were available).

G-Ma's results showed that she is 99.6% European, 0.1% Sub-Saharan African, and 0.3% unassigned.  Overall, these results accurately reflect my research and support the first test my maternal uncle had taken. I was a bit surprised that only 0.3% was unassigned, as I have heard higher numbers from others who have taken the test.

At my grandmother's request, I have not shared the health risks with her or anyone else, and as a result, will not be blogging about them here. They are a different kind of personal and she didn't want to know about them. In her mind, she has lived a long life and doesn't need anything else to worry about. I respect and support her decision to not familiarize herself with this information.