Genes for Genealogy

Audrey Boyko gave an informative DNA presentation to the Prince Albert Branch of the Saskatchewan Genealogical Society (PASGS) on November 8.  Boyko shared how she is using DNA testing to extend the branches of family trees.

Boyko explained the different types of tests; mitochondrial (mtDNA) for the maternal line, Y-chromosomal (Y-DNA) for the paternal line, X-chromosomal (X-DNA) for inheritance patterns, and autosomal-DNA (atDNA) for both paternal and maternal lines.

“The older the better,” Boyko said.  She encouraged people to reach out to their oldest living relatives asking them to have their DNA tested before it is too late.  Boyko’s mother agreed to do the tests and Boyko used her mother’s results during the presentation.  DNA testing is like keeping a part of your ancestors.

Boyko detailed the cost, the advantages, and disadvantages for different companies.  For example, DNA tests range from $149 to $320.  As well as looking at matches, the results show shared matches.  Boyko warns, “It is so annoying when instead of having a public tree, your match has no tree, the tree is locked, and/or your match is not responding to your email request.  Say yes to linking your DNA to your family tree and please make it public.”

Ancestry and some other companies produce an ethnicity estimate with a map.  This can prove or disprove who you thought you were. A pleasant surprise was when testing two cousins who are extended family and both showed that there is small percentage of Jewish DNA far back in their line, this was totally unknown to their family. The map can give you a visual representation of your different ethnicity percentages in the appropriate country.

Currently Ancestry has the largest DNA database but Boyko found Family Tree worthwhile because it has a different set people.  23andMe offers health results as well as genealogy.  DNA Land is new and while it is not a large database, like Family Tree, it has a different set of people.  Boyko suggested that MyHeritage database might be worthwhile for people with European ancestry.  It is recommended to start with Ancestry; which you can download for free to MyHeritage and soon to Family Tree.

It is wise to keep the DNA raw data file on your computer and this file can be uploaded to GEDmatch which is a free tool for DNA and genealogy research.  GEDmatch gathers DNA from almost all testing companies.

Finally, Boyko said, “Getting test results will not help much without doing research.”  She recommends joining an online DNA group and reading books like The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy and Trace Your Roots with DNA. If you use this press release, please add this as the last sentence in the final paragraph.  “To watch a video of Boyko and her DNA research visit http://tinyurl.com/PAGeneDNA.”

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