Relative Roots – Genetic Genealogy Demystified

I attended Elise Friedman’s webinar class on Genetic Genealogy for Beginners a couple weeks ago. I have read several articles about DNA testing and had a basic understanding of it, and a few advanced understandings too. Still, even in her beginner class, I learned a little.

For instance, I had just taken my first DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA. I got the least expensive test they run, having won it from the contest on their Facebook page. So my results are very general: I am in haplogroup K, and likely in K1a1b1a, but the results weren’t specific enough to show that.

What I didn’t realize, until Elise’s webinar, was that there is a new test. For years, we’ve been hearing that genealogy DNA tests are Y-DNA or mtDNA, so they only test your male line (and can only be run if you are male) or your female line. So your father’s mother, your mother’s father, and everyone else in the middle of your ancestry goes untested. The new test, the autosomal test, which FTDNA is calling the Family Finder, tests everyone in your ancestry. They look at different parts of your DNA to see the genes that you got from every ancestor, which is much more relevant for genealogy testing.

With a new interest in DNA for genealogy purposes, I attended her next lecture, Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results – Part 1.

I signed up minutes before it was supposed to start, thinking I still had an hour, but Elise was running a little late attending to last minute sign-ups (including me). As with her previous webinar, I didn’t get the email telling me where to log in, but I Skyped her and got what I needed for this one. It appears the emails are being blocked by my web host even before they hit a spam box that I can check.

There was a technical glitch, besides starting a bit late. She had some background noise and other minor audio glitches, but it wasn’t so bad that she couldn’t continue the webinar. (She told me later what she found the culprit was, so there won’t a repeat.) Her previous webinars did not have the same problem. Elise explained that she is still new to running the webinars, and without someone to introduce her, help with the software, and keep watch over the incoming questions, she does pretty well.

Elise began by reviewing some of the bits from her beginning webinar in case someone hadn’t attended or didn’t remember. Then she went into more of the details about the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. (Part 2 of this webinar is about the autosomal testing.)

One of the parts that I found more interesting included when Elise showed a chart of the probabilities of matching others and by how many generations based on which test you took. Apparently, the Y-DNA test needs to be at least 37 markers for any genealogical matches. She also estimated that the mtFullSequence match (also called FGS or FMS) had similarly close results to the 37 marker Y-DNA test

Another distinction she pointed out was that it is not uncommon for bits of the Y-DNA to mutate whereas the mtDNA rarely mutates. Both tests provide deep ancestry and haplogroup information, but the mtDNA can only determine the full haplogroup assignment with the mtFullSequence test.

At the close of the webinar, Elise offered a 10% discount for attendees that was good for a few days at FamilyTreeDNA. She also offered the same in her beginner webinar.

The beginner webinar was free, but this webinar was $10, although she had $5 discounts floating around on Facebook and Twitter.

Elise’s company is called Relative Roots. Her webinars are listed on her web site. The next beginner webinar is scheduled for March 1.

Disclaimer: Elise is a good friend of mine and offered me free access to this webinar after I attended her beginner one. She did not ask for a review on my blog.

Genetic Genealogy Demystified: Reading and Understanding Your Family Tree DNA Results – Part 1: Y-DNA & mtDNA


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