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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Genetic Tales of My Father: DNA Updates and Goodreads

Who knew my research into genetic genealogy would develop into a multiple series of blog posts?  Just goes to show how detailed DNA can be when combined with genealogy research.  Detailed, yet rewarding and rather fun truth be told as DNA can really add some context to family history.  Test results can offer support or invalidate "traditions" as well as answer specific research questions.

For those that have been following along in my previous posts AncestryDNA Autosomal Test Results and Genetic Tales of My Father: An Autosomal DNA Strategy, I defined a research question using my AncestryDNA admixture results of 49% British Isles, 49% Scandinavian, and 2% Uncertain to determine where the 49% Scandinavian results come from.  The end results included using additional admixture results to compare to my documented family tree which proved very helpful.  It has been a very interesting process so far with more to come. 

Additional blogs to read
Others are also blogging about results from AncestryDNA.  Blaine Bettinger of The Genetic Genealogist outlined issues and explanations in Problems with AncestryDNA's Genetic Ethnicity Prediction? and Your Genetic Genealogist, CeCe Moore, focused on the "Scandinavian question" through admixture results and an interview with General Manager of AncestryDNA in My Review of AncestryDNA's Admixture Tool and a Glimpse into the Future of Genetic GenealogyBack in May, the Legal Genealogist's Judy G. Russell also commented in Up Close: AncestryDNA about her interview with John Perreira, vice president of DNA at Ancestry.com, during the National Genealogical Society.  All three blog postings offer great insight and different perspectives about the new AncestryDNA product.  I did not know that the "Scandinavian question" was so prominent until I read them.  They are definitely good reads!

Matchmaker, matchmaker, bring me a match!
A wonderful song from a great musical is also the silent mutter of those testing with DNA.  Some of the first results people look at is their DNA matches.  This week I found a match for my autosomal DNA with AncestryDNA!  My "6th cousin 1x removed" is related through my mother's family.  My "cousin's" admixure was almost all British Isles so at least I know the Scandinavian reported in my autosomal admixture did not come from that particular branch of the Rowlett family.  Fortunately, I already knew of this match through the regular family trees on Ancestry.com.  So our family history research and genetic relationship was confirmed through our DNA. 

Reference Populations
Different labs and websites use different reference populations in admixture tests.  The populations and their descriptions are not standardized, which can make it difficult when transferring results between labs.  As stated in a previous blog post, it is most help to find out all you can about the reference populations used in an admixture test.  In my father's Family Tree DNA autosomal test, he was reported as 100% Western European (100% Orcadian).  Since my initial posting I have found out that the Orcadian reference population refers to an English population group, not just the Orkney Islands.  However, admixture results through Gedmatch do support some Orcadian DNA as it is separate from the British population group for the Gedmatch admixture test.  While there is Orcadian ancestry, it is not 100%.  Bennett Greenspan, Founder and CEO of Family Tree DNA, has mentioned that the Orcadian reference population will probably change in a future update to reflect more of a British Isles population.

Coming soon......
My husband's autusomal DNA results are in and some other surprises came with it.  More on his admixture after some research. Stay tuned....


  1. Yes, that Scandinavian thing is a bit much. Got my results this week as well. I've never found a single Scandinavian ever, but Ancestry states my results are 67% Scandinavian! 23andMe didn't! So next up I have the test with FTDna and we'll see what that one shows. One would have thought that if I had Scandinavian I might have had a clue about that before now?!

    1. Right! Since there seems to be more unconfirmed Scandinavian percentages in the admixture, one would ask if there is an abnormality in the reference populations or is a reference population is poorly defined. 23andMe may not have a reference population that is "Scandinavian" as defined by AncestryDNA. I underestand the DNA can reflect thousands of years and though I am no expert, something seems a little amiss to me.