29 October 2013

Learning About Autosomal DNA for Genealogy

CeCe Moore and Shannon Christmas discussed strategies for using autosomal DNA to resolve your genealogical problems on BlogTalk Radio. Part One of this discussion took place on 28 June 2013 and is archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett/2013/06/28/strategies-for-using-autosomal-dna. Part Two took place on 28 October 2013 and is archived at http://www.blogtalkradio.com/bernicebennett/2013/10/28/strategies-for-using-autosomal-dna-part-ii.

Some key points made (and paraphrased by me) include:
  • How much time do you have to invest in analysis of distant matches? If time is limited focus first on closer matches (those with the largest shared DNA segments).
  • Don't ignore "low-hanging fruit" such as matches with a common surname or geographic region or shared haplogroup that may match a line you are interested in.
  • If more time is available the more distant matches should also be analyzed. Some of these may not prove fruitful, but some will.
  • AncestryDNA matches through trees can be very useful [DPW comment: assuming the trees are accurate.] AncestryDNA uses mega-base pairs, not centimorgans, as the unit of measurement. See CeCe's blog post, "Ken Chahine Answers My Questions and Reveals Behind-the-Scenes Information about AncestryDNA" for more information.
  • Family Tree DNA requires a total shared number of centimorgans (all segments added together) and at least one segment over the 7.7 centimorgan threshold to be considered a match. Smaller segments must also be indicative of being a part of the same population; this affects African American testers who may have DNA from multiple populations.
  • 23andMe requires 7.0 centimorgans and 500 SNPs to be considered a match. Ancestry Finder reduces the threshold to 5.0 centimorgan segment sizes.
  • Capturing all of your analysis in a spreadsheet is essential. [DPW NOTE: DNA analysis takes time. Be sure you log your findings in some electronic file you find easy to use - spreadsheet, database, word processor file, or whatever. And be ready to invest time if you want to really use the results as evidence.]
  • DNAgedcom.com offers some very useful tools for DNA analysis.
  • DNAadoption.com offers a documented methodology and online classes for atDNA analysis. The same techniques that work for adoptees work for other genealogical brick walls.
  • Any atDNA match sharing more than .40 percent (that is point four percent, which is over 30 centimorgans) is considered a close match.

Many other educational opportunities are also available.

CeCe Moore presented an advanced autosomal DNA analysis webinar for the Association of Professional Genealogists (APG) on 21 September 2013. It hasn't been archived yet, but presumably will be available in the APG Members Only area at some time in the future. The handout for this session is extremely useful.

Roberta Estes presented two DNA webinars for APG that have been archived in the Members Only area. They are:
Part 1: "Intro to DNA" recorded 30 October 2012, and
Part 2: "Yikes, My DNA Results are Back! Now What?" recorded 29 November 2012.

My own sessions available online include:

Khan Academy, Udacity, and Coursera offer online classes in biology and genetics, some free and some with a fee.

Many other educational opportunities are coming soon like a week-long Practical Genetic Genealogy course at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP) in July 2014, more DNA sessions at the Forensic Genealogy Institute, and many more all-day genetic genealogy offerings which will be highlighted in the future.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Learning About Autosomal DNA for Genealogy," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 29 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

Percentage Shared atDNA Chart

Last year in the Forensic Genealogy Institute session on DNA I used a chart showing the statistical percentage of shared DNA between two people. There are several versions of this chart that can be found online. I like this colored, tabular version better than some of the others I have seen. I told the institute attendees I would post the chart. I guess a year later is better than never. I updated the chart and added some links to additional information that were not on the document a year ago. I hope this is useful to some genetic genealogists. This image shows only a small portion of the chart.

A PDF version of the document is available here. On the referenced ISOGG Wiki page at http://www.isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA_statistics#DNA_percentages follow the link to Tim Janzen's website as there are some very useful examples and explanations of autosomal DNA test analysis.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Percentage Shared atDNA Chart," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 29 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

25 October 2013

X-DNA Inheritance Charts

This post has been superceded by the updated documents and additional information in the Publications area of my website.

A few years ago The Genetic Genealogist Blaine Bettinger posted several versions of X‑DNA inheritance charts. Colored blocks on the charts indicate which ancestors might contribute segments to a person's X chromosome(s). The percentage of X‑DNA that each ancestor might contribute was shown in one of the later charts.1 Blaine explains X‑DNA inheritance in those posts as well as providing the charts.

I formatted this information into a Microsoft Word table so I can type the names of the ancestors of a person who has tested for use in X‑DNA analysis.

I don't like to use handwritten charts when I can create a printed version.

With Blaine's permission I have attached a Creative Commons license2 and am linking several different electronic formats of the documents for use in compliance with the Creative Commons license.

I hope these charts prove useful to the genetic genealogy community. If anyone has problems or sees errors in the charts please let me know so they can be corrected.

All URLs accessed 25 October 2013.

1. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "Unlocking the Genealogical Secrets of the X Chromosome," 21 December 2008, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2008/12/21/unlocking-the-genealogical-secrets-of-the-x-chromosome/). Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "More X-Chromosome Charts," 12 January 2009, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2009/01/12/more-x-chromosome-charts/).
2. Creative Commons (http://creativecommons.org/).

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "X-DNA Inheritance Charts ," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 25 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

22 October 2013

Really scariest words: I'm from Windows Support and I'm here to help you

The golden oldies never die. At least not as long as there is one person left to fall for the scam.

I just got a phone call from "Windows Support" from a guy named "Mike" with a mild accent reminiscent of the Indian subcontinent. Mike was here to help me. His company was getting reports from my computer indicating there was a virus on the computer. He wanted to help me fix the problem.

Sadly, we had a bad connection. Mike patiently called me back. It took a long time for the phone to ring again. Mike talked more, apparently following a script and talking over my questions to him. I mentioned I thought my ISP would be the most likely group to contact me if there was really a problem. I asked if he worked for "my ISP" without telling him the name of my ISP. More bad connection problems causing funny sounds on the line. Mike called me back the third time. I asked why my computer would have contacted him as I have it configured so it does not send problem reports out without asking permission first ... all of a sudden Mike could not hear me. Now, I still heard him clearly, and there were no funny sounds on the line, but all of a sudden Mike was gone again. Mike did not call back to help me fix this terrible problem he had been alerted to.

The above is written sarcastically. But if you don't know about this scam or how computers and the internet work you might believe this sincere sounding person is really calling to help.

Please, please, please, do NOT let anyone calling like this talk you into doing anything on your computer and do not give any personal or financial information. At the very least they will ask for money for the time spent helping you. Once they have your Paypal account info or credit card number you know what will happen next. And they may install software on your computer that will allow them to perform nefarious tasks that seem to have been done by you or they can wipe out all of your files or any of hundreds of other terrible things.

This is a known scam.

For more information see:

Eve Blakemore, "How to combat tech support phone scams," Security Tips and Talk, Microsoft (http://blogs.msdn.com/b/securitytipstalk/archive/2013/05/23/how-to-combat-tech-support-phone-scams.aspx : accessed 22 October 2013).

Frank Catalano, "'We're with Windows': The anatomy of a cold-calling scam," GeekWire, 14 July 2013 NBC News Technology (http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/were-windows-anatomy-cold-calling-scam-6C10631331 : accessed 22 October 2013).

Aurich Lawson, '“I am calling you from Windows”: A tech support scammer dials Ars Technic,' Ars Technica (http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2012/10/i-am-calling-you-from-windows-a-tech-support-scammer-dials-ars-technica/ : accessed 22 October 2013).

Mathew J. Schwartz, "Microsoft Windows Support Call Scams: 7 Facts," Seccurity, InformationWeek (http://www.informationweek.com/security/management/microsoft-windows-support-call-scams-7-f/240005023 : accessed 22 October 2013).

P.S. In the time it took to write this blog post, Mike either forgot he had already called and hung up on me or he decided to try his luck again. He called back, then hung up on me again after just a few seconds. No acting like the line was bad this time, just a fast click then silence.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Really scariest words: I'm from Windows Support and I'm here to help you," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 22 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

21 October 2013

My Mitochondrial Mothers

They say time heals all wounds. How much time does it take so the tears no longer come easily?1

This week is the twenty-first anniversary of my mother's death, Mama. This summer we passed the twenty-first anniversary of her mother's death, Big Mama.2 These are the closest of my mitochondrial DNA ancestors and they made me the person I am today. They died four months apart. I still miss them terribly and feel compelled to write about them today. Big Mama's mother, called Granny, died when I was about ten and hers is the first funeral I remember attending. Granny's mother, called Ma Johnson, died before I was born. These four women are pictured below.

Four Generations of Mitochondrial Ancestors of Debbie Parker Wayne,
circa 1940, from the collection of the author, used with permission.

It was a difficult year, 1992. While the country was electing a new president I was helping write wills and obituaries then going through the remains of two lives determining what to save. While everyone around us was getting ready for Trick-or-Treat we were holding the third family funeral within four months (one of Big Mama's brothers died six days before my Mom). A Halloween flower arrangement was picked out by my sister who is mentally about age six due to epileptic seizures she had as a baby. Even though some family members thought it was tacky, Mama would have laughed about the orange and black flowers at her funeral service. She had a wicked sense of humor and was anything but conventional. Big Mama was more conventional except when the safety and happiness of family members were hurt by those conventions. She surprised me more than once when she suggested possible responses to big events in our lives.

What would they have been like if they had not had to work so hard to provide for their families with no help from the fathers of their children? Both of these strong women raised their children alone in a time before the government tracked down deadbeat fathers. Both worked long hours at jobs that required weekend and night work. One a waitress and later a private duty nurse. One a carhop and later managing what we called a hamburger stand. This was when they were still family-run small businesses and not huge corporations with a place on every corner. Twelve hour a day jobs, often seven days a week. Not much leisure time for either, but Mama and Big Mama made time for the important things in life. Santa Claus visited our house in the afternoon before the late work shift started so Mama and Big Mama could see our faces light up.

Both seemed to always love their first husbands even after what must have been heart-breaking divorces. During the 1960s to 1980s my mother saw my father whenever he came back to town, sometimes many years after his last visit. For some reason he gave up a job as an airplane mechanic and became a truck driver, traveling all over the continental U.S. My Mom often joked he probably had a woman in every city. When Mama died my father bought the cemetery plot next to her. Even though they couldn't live happily forever after in life, they seemed to care for each other and he wanted to be near her in death.

My grandmother married my grandfather in 1934 and again in 1958. He was not around for twelve years and I don't remember ever meeting him when I was a child. They spent the rest of their lives together after 1970 in an obviously affectionate relationship. I saw this when I lived with them for a few months after my divorce. After my grandmother's death her sister said, "She had a hard life." The sister was referring to the things Big Mama put up with in those early years with my grandfather which I won't describe here.

So today I give tribute to my maternal line: Mama, Big Mama, the Johnson, Ryan, Otis, Vick, and other women who gave me my mitochondrial DNA, all the way back to the U5b ancestor who was roaming Europe perhaps 4,000 years ago, and the ancestors before her that were in western Asia after moving "Out of Africa."3

Thank you to all of my mitochondrial mothers for making me who I am. I can't identify all of these women yet, but I have a feeling that more of them were strong women who worked hard to hold their families together. I hope to identify more of these mitochondrial ancestors soon. I feel our female ancestors deserve just as much of our research efforts as the men even if it usually takes more effort to learn more about the women in the past.

1. Google Books (http://books.google.com : accessed 21 October 2013), search for "time heals all" and "how much time." These two phrases together seem so familiar that I searched Google Books to see if I was repeating something I've read elsewhere so I could cite it. Similar phrases pop up in about 100 books, but none of them are books I have read. Maybe this is a universal human sentiment when we feel grief that lasts a long time.
2. No citations are provided to their death certificates or other records due to the wishes of living family members. These documents and references are in my personal files. Other remembrances in this essay are from my own memories.
3. "Introduction to Your Story," MTDNA section, Geno 2.0 Project, National Geographic (https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/results/welcome : accessed 4 May 2013); name and kit number withheld for privacy reasons.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "My Mitochondrial Mothers," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 21 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

07 October 2013

DNA: Patents, Permissions, Property, Ethics

There is a brouhaha in the genetic genealogy community this week and coverage in the worldwide media about patent 8,543,339 that was just awarded to 23andMe. The official title of the patent application is “Gamete donor selection based on genetic calculations,” but some are calling it a "designer-baby" application.

My initial reaction to many of the articles was to wonder how this is different than what has been happening with sperm and egg donor selection for many years. I have friends who used a long list of preferences to select a sperm donor. That seemed like a perfectly reasonable thing to do. So I had to read patent 8,543,339 to see if it included something else that I was not getting from the blog posts and news articles.

I do not have legal or medical training and my math education ended at Calculus III back in the early 1990s so reading a patent such as this is a long slog for me. My opinion and understanding is purely that of a layperson who has some understanding of and a strong interest in DNA and how it can be used. In a nutshell, it seems to me the bulk of the patent is describing a standard logical process we see whenever a person chooses a sperm or egg donor (or even a mate):

  • I wish to have a child with a trait that might be a low risk of developing a specific disease or a high chance of having a specific eye color
  • My DNA indicates a risk or likelihood of X for this condition
  • A potential donor's DNA indicates a risk or likelihood of Y for this condition
  • A child conceived between me and the potential donor might have a risk or likelihood of Z for this condition

The same calculation could be performed for multiple traits or conditions. I would then make a decision whether or not I wish to have a child whose other biological parent is this person, just as I would do now based on a donor's profile without DNA analysis (or my attraction to a mate and desire to have offspring). The complicated stuff in the patent comes in with a description of the algorithms used to analyze the DNA for the likelihood of the resulting child having the specific trait or traits. I did not see anything in the patent related to modifying the genes in the egg or sperm to achieve specific traits, just calculating the odds of the trait occurring in a child created with these biological parents.

It seems like this patent is just covering the addition of using DNA data to do something we do now with physical and personal traits, beliefs, and characteristics of a potential donor or mate. This doesn't strike me as "designing a baby" any more than we do now except we add DNA and statistical analysis to the mix. Personally, I may not agree that we should use genetic analysis to select for a baby with a particular eye color. Trying to give a baby the best chance of survival with the least chance of a debilitating disease seems harder to argue with.

While I was mulling this over, Blaine Bettinger, an intellectual property attorney with a PhD in Biochemistry, wrote a blog post titled "A New Patent For 23andMe Creates Controversy."1 I agree with Blaine's conclusion in his article as related to the patent itself. I think everyone should read Blaine's article before coming to a conclusion about this issue.

What this issue brings to my mind is how important it is that we encourage real science education for our children and that we have an informed discussion as to how we will proceed in this brave new world we are facing with all the scientific and technical breakthroughs. I just completed a course on genetics and ethics where the instructors emphasized how much more research is needed for us to understand the impact of genetic modification of any organism—flora or fauna.2

A lot of the controversy this week for genealogists seems to be because our DNA data was used for research we didn't realize it might be used for when we gave consent for it to be used. This makes it even more important that we understand exactly what we are giving permission for when we agree to let a company use our DNA for research or when we upload our DNA data to a server where the information might be publicly shared. Every person will have to decide for herself what she wishes to agree to. But without research, progress in using DNA for any purpose will be stymied.

I have been reading American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own by Stuart Banner.3 This book presents, in a very readable way for the non-lawyer, a history of American laws on property and ownership. It includes a chapter on "Owning Life."4 All of the chapters give an insight into how American legal thinking on property of all kinds has changed over the decades. The book covers how technological changes have impacted several legal decisions related to property. Banner doesn't specifically discuss DNA in the context of today's controversy. He does discuss the legal framework and history we should understand as we determine how genetic information and other biological material could or should be used in the future.

We need to have a serious discussion about how we proceed so misunderstandings are reduced as much as possible and we can all make good decisions. These discussions should include genealogists, historians, and those from all walks of life as well as geneticists and medical practitioners. The social scientists, hard scientists, legal representatives, and educated and interested people need to cooperate to find the best way forward for humanity. But I hope everyone who wishes to be part of the process will study our history, the good and bad, and understand the implications for the future of the decisions we make today.

I don't have all the answers. As a matter of fact, I have more questions than answers about how we should proceed. But frankly, I think those of us who don't jump in wholeheartedly on one one side or the other are the ones who are needed the most as humankind determines how to ethically use what we have learned about DNA in the past and what we will learn in the future.

All URLs accessed 7 October 2013.

1. Blaine Bettinger, PhD, JD, "A New Patent For 23andMe Creates Controversy," 7 October 2013, The Genetic Genealogist (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2013/10/07/a-new-patent-for-23andme-creates-controversy/). See links in the first three paragraphs for blog and mass media articles. For full disclosure, I will be working with Blaine and CeCe Moore to present a week-long course on Practical Genetic Genealogy next summer at the Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP).

2. Rob DeSalle, PhD and David Randle, PhD, "Genetics and Society: A Course for Educators," Coursera online free courses (https://www.coursera.org/course/amnhgenetics).

3. Stuart Banner, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2011). See also Robert C. Deal. "Review of Banner, Stuart, American Property: A History of How, Why, and What We Own," H-Law, H-Net Reviews , posted June 2011 (http://www.h-net.org/reviews/showrev.php?id=32895). See also Harold Henderson, "Jenny Lind, Elvis Presley, and the Evolution of Property in the US," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 30 July 2012 (http://midwesternmicrohistory.blogspot.com/2012/07/jenny-lind-elvis-presley-and-evolution.html).

4. With gratitude to my friend and role model Stefani Evans, CG, for prompting me to move this book to the top of my to-read pile when she pointed out this chapter and the references throughout the book to intellectual property arguments and rulings.

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

02 October 2013

Family Tree DNA Website Update 10-2013

Family Tree DNA has done a major redesign of their website. As always, some will prefer the old way, but so far I love most of the changes. And I am so glad they waited until after I did my workshop Saturday so I didn't have to madly update screenshots at the last minute.

This "how to" list was quickly put together to help some friends who asked about the changes. I lost access to the website before I got the final screenshots I planned to use. That also means I was unable to go back and confirm I covered all the steps correctly. So there may be updates to this post tomorrow after I get to double check the steps.

Once you login your home page (my.familytreedna.com) looks similar to the way it used to, but once you click on Family Finder you'll see the changes. To my eye this is a new and modern look that I like.

Click on Your Matches and then you'll see a newly organized match list with some options in new places. For some time now the first list of matches displayed has been only your "Close and Immediate" matches and this is still true. But the format of the displayed data is new.

Click on the words "Close and Immediate" in the Relations field to get the drop down list to change to "Show All Matches."

Be sure to click "Apply" at the right side of the bar to apply the change.

Click on the words "Relationship Range" in the Sort By field to get the drop down list to change the sort algorithm used, if desired.

Be sure to click "Apply" at the right side of the bar to apply the change.

All matches now are displayed, but you don't see the longest block shared in this first view. Best of all, now the ancestral surname list is limited in screen size.

It can be scrolled to see all of the names by clicking the "i" icon to the right of the names. Now it doesn't take up a whole screen for one match who has entered dozens and dozens of ancestral surnames causing all of your other matches to scroll off the screen, but you can easily see all names entered.

Click on "Show Advanced" just above the name of the first match displayed.

Now you'll see an additional line of information for each match: Triangulate, Tests Taken, Compare in Chromosome Browser, Longest Block, and, if available, haplogroups for Y-DNA and mtDNA.

Triangulate allows a choice of "In Common With" or "Not In Common With."

Clicking on "Compare in Chromosome Browser" allows selection of up to five matches from this page. A box at the top of the page will collect the names and allow you to remove and add names as needed. Then you can jump right to the chromosome browser and it will be populated with the choices.

I'd advise you to wait before logging in to try these new features. It looks like the Family Tree DNA website may be overwhelmed right now unless something else locked up my browser window to the site. But play with the changes and give it a chance. I think there is more to like than dislike with what I have seen so far.

Added 2 October 2013, 9:26 p.m. CST:

See also Rebekah A. Canada's posts:

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look (Part 1)

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look (Part 2)

FTDNA Family Finder Matches Get a New Look Part 3

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "Family Tree DNA Website Update 10-2013," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 2 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved

DNA Day Workshop at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas

Driving 300 miles is not always fun. But the drive between East Texas and Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, is a nice, easy, half-day drive when you don't get stopped for construction on Interstate 30. Only about half of the trip has to be done on the interstate. The other half is through pretty, peaceful areas of East Texas and Arkansas on U.S. and state highways.

This was my second year to do an all-day seminar for the Hot Springs Village Genealogical Society and Akansa Chapter NSDAR. Thanks so much to Village Genealogical Society President Celinda Chapman, long-time workshop organizer Jeanette Frahm, lunch deliveryman locator and workshop organizer helper Marcie Guise, Akansa NSDAR Regent Joyce Wood, and all the other volunteers who helped make the workshop fun and interesting for me and all of the attendees.


We had a nice crowd of attendees who asked good questions.


It was obvious a lot of them really get why genetic genealogy is now a mainstream part of genealogical research and not this weird thing only a few of us odd ducks are doing.


Most understood the questions you must ask yourself when trying to decide which DNA test to take or ask someone else to take, as illustrated in this slide:


The drive home Sunday morning started off in a cool, misty, ethereal-looking way with low clouds obscuring the trees on the peaks of the hills. I never ran into more than a light drizzle for a few minutes on the way home.


Then dappled sun through the trees on the last leg of the drive.


Thanks for inviting me to Hot Springs Village and for attracting such an interesting group of attendees from the local area and as far away as Little Rock. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing familiar faces from last year and some new faces. I even got to see one of my Parker cousins I met last year at the Henry Parker family reunion in Russellville, Arkansas. Many of my examples in my DNA presentations use test results from my Parker line so I hope Karen found these more personally useful than the other attendees.

It might be harder to get to this area for some other speakers. I guarantee you will have a good time with a knowledgeable group of researchers if you accept a speaking invitation from this group.

1. Photo credits: © Hot Springs Village Genealogical Society, taken 28 September 2013, used with permission.
2. Photo credits: © Debbie Parker Wayne, taken 28 September 2013.

To cite this blog post:
Debbie Parker Wayne, "DNA Day Workshop at Hot Springs Village, Arkansas," Deb's Delvings Blog, posted 2 October 2013 (http://debsdelvings.blogspot.com/ : accessed [date]).

© 2013, Debbie Parker Wayne, CG, CGL, All Rights Reserved