Monday, 13 November 2017

FTDNA's 13th International Genetic Genealogy Conference and the FTDNA sale

At the weekend Family Tree DNA held their 13th International Genetic Genealogy Conference for group administrators. You can see the full programme here. I've been following the news from the conference on Twitter by checking out the hashtag #FTDNA2017. Thank you to Katherine Borges, Lisa Janine CloudLouis Kessler and Marilyn Souders for all the tweets and photos.

Some of the conference attendees have blogged about the conference. I've provided a list below which I will update if further articles become available.

Conference reports from Jennifer Zinck
Jennifer always writes wonderfully detailed notes from the conference and I recommend reading her articles in their entirety. It's almost like being there in person!
Conference reports from Louis Kessler
Louis Kessler is a first-time conference attendee. He provides an interesting perspective and has also shared a selection of photographs.
Conference report from Judy Russell
The slides from some of the presentations will be made available to project administrators.

Maurice Gleeson has shared his two conference presentations on his YouTube channel:
FTDNA sale

At the close of the conference FTDNA announced a sale which will run until the end of the year. Upgrades are also included in the sale. Here is a chart showing the sale prices.

Individual Tests Sale price Regular price
Family Finder (FF)     
$59 $89
mtFull Sequence (FMS)
$169 $199
$129 $169
$229 $268
$299 $359
Test Bundles
Sale price Regular price
Family Finder + Y-37
$178 $238
Family Finder + Y-67
$278 $337
FF + mtFull Sequence
$218 $268
FF + Y-67 + mtFull Sequence
$442 $536
Sale price Regular price
mt/mtPlus to FMS                                
$119 $159
Big Y                                   
$475 $575
Y-12 to Y-37             
$69 $109
Y-25 to Y-37              
$35 $59
Y-37 to Y-67
$79 $109
Y-37 to Y-111                                  
$168 $228
Y-67 to Y-111                                    
$99 $129

Note that, in addition to the above prices, FTDNA charges $12.95 for shipping. Kits for customers in the US are sent out by DHL and the cost includes return shipping. Customers in other countries will need to pay the return postage separately.

There is also a 15% discount on SNPs and SNP packs for the sale period.

FTDNA have given existing customers discount codes (coupons) which can be used to get a further reduction on the sale price. You'll need to log into your FTDNA account and click on the Holiday Reward to see your offer. As always, a number of people have taken the initiative to set up collaborative spreadsheets where unused coupons can be shared and exchanged.

A spreadsheet is available from this link that was shared on the Haplogroup Facebook page.

There are also other spreadsheets being maintained by specific groups such as the U106 group on Yahoo.

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

23andMe passes three million milestone

I've not been able to find any official announcement but 23andMe now state on the About Us page on their website that they have genotyped over three million customers. This figure is also cited in an article on genealogy tourism published in USA Today on 3rd November 2017.

The 23andMe database stood at two million in April 2017 when it was announced that they had received FDA approval to provide health reports for their US customers. That means they have tested one million people in the last seven months.

It was announced in October that 23andMe had "launched an advertising blitz to dramatically expand its customer base to 10 million people". How long will it be before they reach that goal?

Thanks to Ritchie Hansen for alerting me to the USA Today story in the Genetic Genealogy Tips and Techniques group on Facebook.

Thursday, 2 November 2017

AncestryDNA updates – six million customers, a new DNA Story layout and changes to the consent process

There have been a few changes at Ancestry DNA in the last few days. They've started to roll out a new presentation for their "ethnicity" reports and Genetic Communities. The two features are now integrated which makes them much easier to use. This is what my new home page looks like. The admixture percentages have not changed but I am encouraged to click through to view my DNA Story.

Here is my new DNA Story page. By default the low-confidence regions are not shown, but I've expanded them in this screenshot.

I currently have one Genetic Community for Southern England. That is now nested inside the Great Britain region.

The admixture component that was previously labelled Ireland has now been renamed as Ireland/Scotland/Wales. However, this component actually covers much of England as well, and overlaps with the Southern England Genetic Community, as can be seen below.

The timeline is now conveniently located at the bottom of the page. It's easy to click through and read the historical detail for the different periods. Here's my timeline from 1850 which shows the migrations of the people in my Southern England community. This is the era of peak emigration, particularly to Australia, New Zealand, Canada and America, and it's fascinating to see how these connections are showing up in the DNA.

Some people are also seeing Migrations listed below their "ethnicity" report. This only applies if the person's genetic community is not part of their admixture regions.

AncestryDNA database now at six million and changes to the consent process
AncestryDNA have also announced that their database has reached six million. They had five million people in their database at the beginning of August 2017, which means they've added one million to their database in less than three months. The good news is that much of that growth has taken place in the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand.

At the same time AncestryDNA have also made some changes to the DNA cousin-matching service, as described in this blog post. Most importantly, customers now have the ability to opt out of cousin matching, and new customers have to actively consent to participate in the relative-matching database. This is what the test settings now look like for existing customers.

This is the message you get if you want to change the settings for your DNA matches.

Here is the page in the activation process for new testers where you have to consent to "see and be seen" by your DNA matches.

This is what the home page now looks like if the tester decides not to opt in to matching. (Many thanks to Michelle Leonard for these two screenshots.)

This is a very welcome change, and I'm just surprised that it didn't happen sooner. This brings AncestryDNA into line with 23andMe and Family Tree DNA, both of whom require the tester to opt in to be included in the matching database.

I always warn my fellow genealogists to be prepared for the unexpected. With the growth in the DNA databases we are finding many examples of surprise DNA matches. Some people are getting unexpected matches with previously unknown close relatives, and sometimes even with unknown siblings and parents. Much of the focus of the AncestryDNA marketing campaigns has been on the admixture percentages, and this has helped to bring in a whole new demographic to DNA testing, many of whom have then been inspired to start researching their family tree. However, many of these people don't realise that the test also has a direct genealogical application and can be used for cousin matching. I've personally come across a couple of instances of people testing to get the admixture percentages and then finding by chance that they had an unknown parent or child in the database. These discoveries were made in the most inappropriate circumstances and the embarrassment could have been avoided if there had been a proper consent process in place at the time. It's important that everyone who participates in the DNA matching database understands what they are doing and that they are forewarned about the implications so that they can make their own choices based on their individual circumstances. Not everyone is willing or ready to discover unknown relatives and their wishes should be respected.

Further reading

Friday, 27 October 2017

23andMe now offers an ancestry-only DNA test in Europe and Canada

23andMe offer a very interesting test which includes both health and ancestry reports. However, because of the high cost of the test, it has never been practical to use it in the UK for genealogy purposes. Our American friends have had the option to buy an ancestry-only test for $99 for a while now but that facility has not been available in other countries. That situation has all changed some time in the last few days though we don't know exactly when this change was rolled out. In the countries where 23andMe offer health reports it is now possible to order an ancestry-only test at a lower and affordable price. Here are the new prices.

Country Ancestry Ancestry and health Return shipping
UK £79 £149 £9.99
Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Sweden and the Netherlands   €99  €169  €9.99
Canada C$129 C$249 C$19.95
US $99 $199 $9.95

For the remaining countries where the 23andMe test is sold, an international ancestry-only test is available for US $99 plus shipping. The cost of the international test has also been reduced in recent months. Previously this test cost $149 outside the US. Shipping costs vary from country to country, but these costs have also been greatly reduced. You can find full details of international availability and shipping costs by country on the 23andMe page in the ISOGG Wiki.

These reduced prices are really good news for genetic genealogists. At £79 the 23andMe test represents very good value for money. In addition to receiving cousin matches and a biogeographical ancestry analysis, the test will also give you haplogroup assignments (Y-DNA and mtDNA for males; mtDNA only for females). The Y-DNA and mtDNA reports can't be used for matching purposes but they are very useful if you just want a general overview of your ancestry. 23andMe are also the only genetic genealogy company that provides reports on your Neanderthal ancestry.

Here is a screenshot of my 23andMe ancestry reports.
This is an extract from my Neanderthal ancestry report. There is a lot more detail in these reports which there is not space to include here.

The Neanderthal report also includes this chromosome map showing the location of the Neanderthal variants in your genome.
It was reported recently that 23andMe are going to embark on an advertising blitz to "dramatically expand" their customer base to 10 million people. Let's hope that the launch of the ancestry-only test will encourage many new people to test with 23andMe, and help to expand the customer database outside the US.

Thanks to Michelle Leonard for alerting me to the introduction of 23andMe's new ancestry-only tests. You can read Michelle's blog post on the subject here.