Genetic Genealogist's Book Discussed by The Genealogy Guys

Well, Miriam started it.

She wrote to the Genealogy Guys to tell them about Blaine Bettinger’s e-book “I Have The Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What?”.

George Morgan took a look at Blaine’s book, was very enthusiastic about it, and discussed it in The Genealogy Guys Podcast Episode #135, mentioning that it is a concise, well-written explanation of how to interpret the results of Y-DNA and mtDNA tests.

I heartily agree.

I downloaded Blaine’s e-book a couple of weeks ago from his blog, The Genetic Genealogist. For a book on such a technical subject, I found Blaine’s book to be an easy read. The book delivers a lot of information, but doesn’t overwhelm the reader.

Blaine’s e-book includes the following four chapters in a concise 28 pages:

Chapter 1: What Is (And Isn‟t) Genetic Genealogy?
Chapter 2: How Do I Interpret My Y-DNA Results?
Chapter 3: How Do I Interpret My mtDNA Results?
Chapter 4: Monitoring the Field of Genetic Genealogy.

For some time, I have agonized about having my DNA tested, not because I had any qualms about having my DNA tested, but because I really didn’t understand the nature of the tests, couldn’t decide on which tests to take, and couldn’t decide on which testing company to hire.

I couldn’t even decide why I would want to have my DNA tested. I was certainly curious about what the results would be, but was that reason enough to spend the money for the tests?

Recently, three of my Niedzialkowski/Niedzialkoski cousins completed a DNA study to confirm or disprove their relationships despite the absence of direct genealogical evidence. Intrigued by the results of their study, I decided to jump into the fray despite the fact that I had no immediate questions that I hoped the analysis of my DNA could answer.

I had my Y-DNA and mtDNA tested through FamilyTreeDNA. I had no idea which tests I should order, so I just ordered the biggest package deal offered by FamilyTreeDNA. This turned out to be FamilyTreeDNA’s “Super DNA” test, which includes an analysis of 67 markers on my Y-Chromosome and full sequencing of my mitochondrial genome.

The results came in. I was informed that my Y-DNA haplogroup is R1b, as predicted by the analysis of short tandem repeats (STRs). I have ordered an analysis of single nucleotide polymorphisms to confirm the haplogroup assignment. The results are due in about a week from now. I expected to belong to R1a, the haplogroup to which my Niedzialkowski cousins belong. However, I inherited my Y-DNA from my Danko ancestors, not my Niedzialkowski ancestors, and R1b is the most common European haplogroup, so there are really no big surprises here.

My mitochondrial haplogroup is W1. Again, there are no big surprises here, since haplogroup W is found in the western Ural mountains, the eastern Baltic, Poland, and a few other countries.

Beyond the haplogroup designations, the results of my DNA tests seemed like just a bunch of numbers until I read Blaine’s e-book. Now, I understand what all the designations mean and why those particular regions of DNA were selected for genealogical purposes.

Blaine’s e-book doesn’t address autosomal DNA tests or X-DNA tests, but that’s not a shortcoming. I learned the answers to the questions I had on Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA testing, and that has helped me appreciate the results of my tests even more.

Copyright © 2008 by Stephen J. Danko

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2 Responses to Genetic Genealogist's Book Discussed by The Genealogy Guys

  1. Carolyn says:

    Have you submitted your full sequence mtDNA to GenBank, the NIH genetic sequence database? An overview can be found at http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/genbank/GenbankOverview.html
    This is the place to be. Yes, mine is there, and I am also haplogroup W1. It is a pretty lonely group. I am actively trying to find more W1′s, especially those from Poland (the former Galicia).

    • Ellie May Shufro says:

      I’m a W1 also – and Jewish on both sides of my family for centuries. Interested in knowing others with the same background and haplogroup. Thanks!

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