Bits and bytes
There are three big developments in genetic genealogy in recent days — and every last one of ’em is good news.
Raw data from Ancestry (not yet but promised), a new server up and running for third-party utility site GEDmatch.com, and kits being shipped for the new National Geographic Geno 2.0 project make this a good October so far!
Ancestry to disclose raw data
Perhaps the best news for genetic genealogy overall this month was the announcement by AncestryDNA that it was “working to provide access to … raw DNA data in early 2013.”
As reported by Crista Cowan in Ancestry’s own blog, the announcement came from Dr. Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA, in the keynote presentation at the Consumer Genetics Conference in Boston earlier this month. In her report, Cowan said Chahine emphasized that “AncestryDNA believes that our customers have the right to their own genetic data.”
The announcement followed weeks and weeks of criticism of the AncestryDNA testing system by numerous bloggers including CeCe Moore of Your Genetic Genealogist,1 Razib Khan of Gene Expression,2, Debbie Cruwys Kennett of Cruwys news,3 Blaine Bettinger of The Genetic Genealogist,4 Chris Dunham of The Genealogue5 — and here in this blog, I’ve sounded that call as well.6
It’s good to see the company’s affirmative response to this issue — the simple fact is that the raw data is essential to making full use of the results of autosomal DNA testing. By uploading the raw data to third-party utility sites, we can all play around with our results in all kinds of different ways and get much more benefit out of having tested our autosomal DNA.
Let’s hope “early 2013” is very early 2013. The sooner, the better.
GedMatch & the new server
And speaking of third party utility sites, one of my absolute favorites — GEDmatch.com — is now up and running on a new server that will alleviate most of the performance hits the site took when its web hosting company wasn’t able to handle the load.
GEDmatch.com offers an amazing range of tools for genetic genealogy research that carry a whopping big price tag of exactly zero. That’s not a typo. The site is free, and what you can find out by plugging your raw data in to those utilities is nothing less than a DNA geek’s dream come true.7
Its functions are so resource-intensive, however, that on 1 September, the site posted a front-page warning that told users that:
Due to the tremendous usage of our site, we have been notified by our hosting company that we have exceeded the capacity of the current servers. It has become necessary to disable some utilities which have contributed to this situation. It will require new equipment to handle current and anticipated data.
As of 9 October, however, a new server had been obtained and much of the data transferred over. Some problems in getting all the databases restored on the new server have persisted, and some users may find it necessary to reupload some data. But all in all, the transition has been pretty smooth — and with a price to users that’s awfully hard to beat.
Having said that, however, let me emphasize that GEDmatch.com is resource-intensive — and resources don’t come without a price tag. If you use GEDmatch like I do, think about making a donation to keep the site up and running. Info on making a donation can be found on the GEDmatch main page.
GEDmatch makes it easy with a PayPal link and hey… all the information you can get has to be worth a few bucks, right? A $10 or $20 donation (or more! mine was more!) would go a long way.
Geno 2.0 kits now shipping
And last but hardly least in the “good news in genetic genealogy” department is the word that test kits for the new National Geographic Geno 2.0 project are being shipped and are arriving daily for folks who’ve preordered.
The project was announced in late July,8 to augment and update the research undertaken in the original Geno 1.0 project begun in 2005. It promises to tell us more about our deep ancestry than ever before, helping place individuals who test in exactly the right spot in terms of haplogroup down to the nth degree to provide much more precise guidance about whether we’re from this branch of the family tree or that one.
And the results should help develop much more precise admixture information — more than just are we European or African, but are we German or French. Not to mention whether our own modern DNA includes early hominid DNA, such as Neanderthal and Denisovan.
The kits started reaching those who’d preordered early this past week. Folks have posted on the Genealogy-DNA mail list at Rootsweb that the kit is a cheek swab kit with two swabs that comes in an attractive package with a colorful brochure.
We’ve been told that results would become available six to eight weeks after the kits were received, so the first results should be seen sometime in late November to early December.
- CeCe Moore, “Follow Up: Lab Error Responsible for Adoptee’s Confusing Match at AncestryDNA ,” Your Genetic Genealogist, posted 24 Aug 2012 (http://www.yourgeneticgenealogist.com : accessed 18 Sep 2012). ↩
- Razib Khan, “Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA won’t give you your raw data,” Gene Expression, posted 16 Sep 2012 (http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/gnxp/ : accessed 18 Sep 2012). ↩
- Debbie Cruwys Kennett, “AncestryDNA’s response to my request for my raw genetic data,” Cruwys news, posted 30 Aug 2012 (http://cruwys.blogspot.com : accessed 18 Sep 2012). ↩
- Blaine Bettinger, “Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction?,” The Genetic Genealogist, posted 19 Jun 2012 (http://www.thegeneticgenealogist.com : accessed 18 Sep 2012). ↩
- Chris Dunham, “AncestryDNA and a Possible Faux Pa,” The Genealogue, posted 13 Jun 2012 (http://www.genealogue.com/ : accessed 13 Oct 2012). ↩
- Judy G. Russell, “AncestryDNA, tear down this wall!,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 23 Sep 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 13 Oct 2012). ↩
- See Judy G. Russell, “Gedmatch: a DNA geek’s dream site,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 12 Aug 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 13 Oct 2012). ↩
- See Judy G. Russell, “Geno 2.0 launches!,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 25 Jul 2012 (http://www.legalgenealogist.com/blog : accessed 13 Oct 2012). ↩