Friday, April 27, 2012

Genes Day Friday - The results are in! Now what?

The results of my grandfather's autosomal DNA test are in! So far, I've had my hands full with life in general, so I haven't had all the time I've wanted to look at what 23andMe.com has to say about my grandfather's DNA, but I have learned quite a bit:

My Y-DNA haplogroup is R1b1b2a1a1d1* - or more easily written as L47 (the genetic marker that differentiates it from the rest of the world). R1b, as I understand it, is the most common haplogroup in Europe, but the descendant branch of R1b I'm related to, with the L47 marker, means I'm from a different branch of that R1b tree that they haven't fully connected yet. Sounds just like the rest of my genealogy research. But my haplogroup is found mostly in western Europe, which is where my Gibsons are from, so that makes perfect sense.

My grandfather's mtDNA haplogroup is U5b2a1. This would be his maternal line, through his mother Augusta Joseph, her mother Pauline Rosen, and so on. This is the line on my grandfather's side I know the least about. But according to the maps on 23andMe.com, this haplogroup is most common in northern Scandinavia! So does that mean Pauline has Scandinavian roots? It'd be fascinating if she did. If you've read The Seven Daughters of Eve, this puts me in the Ursula clan, the oldest of the seven major European clans.

One thing that didn't surprise me, but was still very gratifying to see, was my grandfather's Ancestry Painting - basically a breakdown of his percentages of European, Asian, and African ancestry. Given that he is the son of full-blooded Irish father and German mother, I expected him to be 100% European, which in fact, he is. To me, that says the paper trial I've found on his ancestors is accurate - very good news indeed!
With 23andMe.com's Relative Finder, they can tell you who matches your DNA haplotype, what your percentage of common DNA is (outside of the 99.9% we all share with every other human being), and what your predicted relationship is to that person. One thing that kinda surprised me was the fact that you have to click to accept being able to view close matches. It had a little blurb about some people being interested to see close matches, but some people finding it uncomfortable or upsetting. My first thought was "I'm hoping to find close matches, bring them on!" But then I thought, for someone was may not be expecting close relatives to pop up on here, finding someone very closely related might be more upsetting than not - finding a sibling or aunt you never knew about, for example, could lead to lots of uncomfortable (and perhaps unanswerable) questions. But I clicked "view" and no one closer than the group I was already seeing appeared.

I was very surprised, however, to see that at the top of the list of matches was someone with a predicted relationship of 2nd cousin. If this is correct, that means one of his parents was a first cousin to one my grandfather's parents! I quickly sent an introduction to this mystery man (23andMe.com keeps all details private until you connect with that person and they connect to you). So far, no response. But I'm hoping that he'll log on and see he has a 2nd cousin (twice removed) waiting to talk to him. I mean, why go through the cost and trouble of taking a test, if you're not going to talk to the people you match up with?

I've also signed up with GedMatch.com, which can take your DNA results from companies like 23andMe and compare them, helping you find other matches. So far, I haven't been able to go through the 99 pages of results - they give you charts and graphs and lists like nobody's business, and I'm still trying to make sense of them all.

That's where I'm at with my grandfather's autosomal results. Lots to take in, huh? The autosomal tests for both my grandmothers are in process right now, so I'm about to triple the amount of DNA-related data I have in front of me! Not only that, I've got a Y-STR test (67 markers) and mtDNA test for my grandfather in the works as well. I'm just waiting for the mtDNA tests for my grandmothers to come in the mail. Thank you for the DNA Day sale, FTDNA! I wouldn't have been able to afford all those mtDNA tests, but FTDNA made them completely irresistible at $59. I'll eventually upgrade them to full-sequence mtDNA tests, but for now, a basic test should be enough to whet my appetite.

A lot has happened since last week, and it's only going to get more nuts - more tests, more results, and hopefully, more relatives to compare notes with. But I love it!

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