Friday, 11 November 2011

DNA and Social Networking: A Guide to Genealogy in the Twenty-First Century

Debbie Kennett's excellent new book about genetic genealogy and the networking revolution has now been published. Debbie is to be commended in articulating in a very skilful manner what can potentially be a challenging field for the family historian.

Debbie is an active member of the Guild of One-Name Studies and runs several vibrant DNA projects such as the Cruwys surname project and the geographical DNA project for Devon.

The topic of chapters in the first section include: the basic principles of DNA testing; surnames and the paternal line; before surnames - haplogroups and deep ancestry; the maternal line - mitochondrial DNA tests; cousins reunited - autosomal DNA tests and setting up and running a DNA Project.

Section two includes: traditional genealogical networking methods; genealogy social networking websites; general social networking websites; blogs; wikis; multimedia and collaboratives tools. There are also four appendices: DNA websites; Testing companies; DNA Projects and Surname resources.

All in all a thoroughly helpful resource for the newbie to the field as well as the seasoned genealogist.

The Scottish DNA Project gets a mention on page 37 within the Surnames and paternal line chapter.

It is well worth subscribing to Debbie's Cruwys blog and read more about her book here.

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Digging for Britain - Cladh Hallan ancient DNA evidence

Dr Alice Roberts travels back to the Ages of Bronze and Iron where she examines the two Hebridean Bronze Age skeletons known as the Cladh Hallan mummies. Not only do they appear to have been mummified, new analysis has revealed they are made up of a jigsaw of different people. 

Analysis reveals that the two mummies are made up of three people belonging to mitochondrial haplogroups U or U5, T1 (not U, U5) and H (not U, U5 or T1). 

A short video is available on YouTube Cracking the puzzle of the Cladh Hallan Bodies. The full programme can be viewed on BBC iPlayer at Digging for Britain - Series 2 - 3. Age of Bronze and Iron
It can also be downloaded to your computer to view (which will expires after 30 days). I am not sure if either of these features are available outside the United Kingdom.
The Scottish DNA Project mtDNA results for members can be viewed here.

Monday, 22 August 2011

DNA reveals body parts from South Uist mummies belonged to different individuals

DNA tests on British prehistoric mummies revealed they were made of body parts from several different people, arranged to look like one person. The four bodies discovered in 2001 at Cladh Hallan, South Uist, in Scotland's Outer Hebrides were the first evidence in Britain of deliberate mummification.

Archaeologists found the mummies in the foundations of a row of unusual Bronze Age terraced roundhouses. But after being radiocarbon dated, all were found to have died between 300 and 500 years before the houses were built, meaning they had been kept above ground for some time by their descendants.

The results of the DNA work on the Cladh Hallan mummies will feature on the latest series of Digging For Britain on BBC Two in September.

Read all about it at Scottish prehistoric mummies made from jigsaw of body parts

You can read more about the the prehistoric village at Cladh Hallan on the University of Sheffield department of archaeology website.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Clan Chisholm DNA Project

Robert Chisholm, administrator of Clan Chisholm DNA Project has posted an update on the ScotDNA mailing list about significant results from his project. 

Robert states that the Chisholm DNA results would appear to back up the clan origin story of a Norman origin, via the conquest, marriage into Roxburghshire, and "conquest via marriage" into the Highlands.

"Identified Old Chiefs line via several documented genealogies (modern Chief's line is female descent from 1888) , classic I1 Norse type identified by Ken Nordeveldt. Within Clan Chisholm this single type is representing 30-40% of Chisholm named project members. Large DNA footprint traceable back through England, a small amount in Normandy, and back to Scandinavia. Several large family groups (English) who match and would represent sibling lines of Norman family prior to the first representative to found the new surname de Cheseholme, in Scotland, during reign of David I."

"Other DNA in Clan: the majority represent R1b, but with some smaller family groups, predominance of British, but still significant numbers with Gaelic ancestry. Overall the Highland part of the Clan is likely to exceed 50% celtic base, as the I1 Norman type does include the Borders branch which has over time spread
throughout the lowlands and back to Northumbria (whence it originally came, as oral histories have the first de Cheseholme being a Norman Knight from Tindale)."

"So overall, a good result for DNA, proves beyond doubt the favoured origin foundation story, and all those origin myths about the men of the north, the Earl of Orkney, can be dispensed with."

The full original post can be read at SCOT-DNA/2011-07/1310603008

Thursday, 30 June 2011

SNPs - the latest results: St Clair DNA Study

Many folk are well aware of how 37 or 67 Y-DNA marker tests can be used to identify matches within a genealogical time frame, but there is an increasing and welcome interest in 'deep ancestry'.

The history of the human Y-DNA tree is defined at each branch by an SNP (a single-nucleotide polymorphism), a change to a single nucleotide in a DNA sequence. These events are rare but when they do happen, every descendant of the individual in which the event occurred will carry the mutation to the next generation.

Steve St Clair has posted a very helpful video of recent developments in his project which can be viewed here St. Clair DNA Study

I would also recommend a visit to the St. Clair DNA Study website where there are interviews with Bennett Greenspan, Terry Barton and  Richard White

Sunday, 12 June 2011

James Naughtie's DNA

My six-week hell when I thought I might be English

James Naughtie political commentator and presenter of the 'Today' programme on BBC Radio 4 recently had his Y-DNA tested to discover his deep ancestral roots. He was found to be S142+ which is haplogroup I1d and indicative of possible Angle descent.

The light hearted account about his anxious wait for the results can be read  here and the Radio 4 programme listened to at James Naughties DNA

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

DNA Heritage database and Ybase transferred to Family Tree DNA

Significant news today with the transfer of the DNA Heritage database and customers to Family Tree DNA. This will now bring several Scottish surname projects under the wing of FTDNA such as the original Lindsay DNA Project.

Below is part of the message from Alastair Greenshields, principal of DNA Heritage:

April 2011   
Dear Customers,

Today we have signed an agreement with Family Tree DNA to transfer the DNA Heritage database, and also the Ybase domain, site and database.  In a few weeks time, the DNA Heritage domain will also be transferred.

Customers within the DNA Heritage database will be able to opt-in to be uploaded into the FTDNA database.  Family Tree DNA will organize this opt-in process.  New orders can then later be taken through Family Tree DNA.  Project Funds for Surname Projects will remain intact in the transfer.

In recent months sales have lowered which impacts the rate at which we can cover the costs of the lab process.  With no immediate rise in sales, this became unsustainable so we started the process of finding a suitable company that could a) absorb the customer database and b) continue testing at the same markers.  The number of companies that are able to do this is limited but we hope that our past customers will be happy with the transfer.

Because of the income from the sale of assets, testing will resume at our current labs and we shall complete all those in process, and also for those that have pre-paid.

See this link for more information:

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

The Gene Code - new series from the BBC

A new series is currently showing on BBC 4 on Monday evenings (also available on BBC iPlayer, but not accessible outside the UK).

Programme 1 - The Book of Life
Dr Adam Rutherford takes the viewer on a rollercoaster ride as he explores the consequences of one of the biggest scientific projects of all time - the decoding of the entire human genome in 2000. Adam discovers that every human carries the entire story of life on earth hidden in his or her DNA and sees how we are all linked directly to the origins of life and to the first creatures with backbones. He also investigates the implications of the fact that for much of its existence, the human race was an endangered species.

Programme 2 - Unlocking the Code
How we are coming to understand the very process by which our DNA makes each of us unique.

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Family Tree DNA announce launch of new Y-DNA 111 marker test

This test is primarily for those who have close matches at 67 markers and are seeking to tighten the calculation to Most Recent Common Ancestor by testing an additional 44 markers.

The new test is available as an upgrade for customers with existing Y-DNA67 results and also as a standalone test for individuals looking to prove a close relationship on the direct paternal line:
Y Refine 67 to 111 (Upgrade)    $101
Y-DNA111    $339

Order via your Family Tree DNA homepage > Order Test & Upgrades > Order Standard Tests or if you are a new customer via this link order FTDNA test

The additional markers being tested are listed on this page - Family Tree DNA STR markers

Friday, 4 March 2011

Scotland's DNA: Who do you think you are? - Part 4

The Scotman newpaper continue their series of articles based on Alastair Moffat's radio programme, The Scots: A Genetic Journey.

The latest article can be found here Scotland's DNA: Who do you think you are? - Part 4

Here is a snapshot of particular interest to me personally. It concerns the MacLeods and a new marker called S68 (also known as L165). This was discovered by Dr Jim Wilson and is bringing fresh insight into the origins of Clan MacLeod.

Clan MacLeod is a fascinating case study. From a sample of the DNA of 45 Macleod Y chromosomes almost half, 47 per cent, clearly show social selection at work in that they descend from one individual. If this statistic is projected amongst the total number of MacLeods, it means that almost 10,000 men alive today are descended from this man. Among the remaining 53 per cent, researchers have found only nine other lineages present, showing that MacLeod men married women who were unfailingly faithful to them.

Nevertheless, the MacLeods do not carry the M17 marker group. Theirs is a recently discovered sub-group labelled S68. It is found in Lewis, Harris and Skye, core Macleod territory, but also in Orkney, Shetland and Norway, with a few examples in Sweden. Despite extensive screening, S68 is very specifically located, showing up only once in the east of Scotland and once in England. This is a classic pattern for a Viking marker in Britain, but one much rarer than M17. MacLeods determinedly claim descent from a common name father, a Norse aristocrat called Ljot, a relative of Olaf, King of Man. They are probably right to continue to claim that – science for once supporting tradition.
Follow this link for analysis of the results from the MacLeod DNA Project and other pages which highlight the deep ancestral relationship to several other surnames.

A new project specifically looking at S68/L165 can be found at R-L165 (S68) Project This marker has also been found in a group of MacDonalds from the Northern Highlands and a group of Bealls (Bells) from Fife. Testing is currently being carried out on a Buie from Jura and a MacNeil.

The MacNeil's of Barra (Group b. orange coloured ) are genetically related by STR matches with the group of MacDonald's mentioned above and who are positive for this marker. Testing is required to confim that these MacNeils also carry this marker, but STR results do suggest that they will also be positive.

Monday, 28 February 2011

The Scots: A Genetic Journey

The second episode of the new six part radio programme to compliment Alasdair Moffat's new book is still available (for another two days) on BBC Scotland iPlayer. Here's the blurb from the BBC:

In the second programme of the series, historian Alistair Moffat explores the history of the Scottish people, and where we all come from, in the light of new evidence from DNA science. It turns out that much of the history of population movement is written inside of us, in our genes.
Leaving East Barns in East Lothian, where you can still see traces of the land mass which once joined Scotland to the rest of Europe, Alistair tramps up Cairnpapple Hill near Linlithgow in the company of historical geneticist Jim Wilson, to discover the prehistoric traces of Scotland's first farmers, whose names are lost but whose DNA has survived to this day inside the bodies of modern Scots.

Further information on episodes one and two can be found here:
The Scots: A Genetic Journey - Episode one 
The Scots: A Genetic Journey - Episode two 
The Scots: A Genetic Journey : Episode 3
Alistair Moffat discovers how our history is influenced by the geography of Scotland. 
To be broadcast on Wednesday 2 March at 3.30pm BBC Radio Scotland. It is then available for seven days on BBC iPlayer.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Who Do You Think You Are? - Olympia, London

The Scottish DNA Project will be represented at Who Do you Think You Are? - The national history show at Olympia, London from 25-27th February 2011.

The show features over 100 workshops from top genealogists and includes 23 talks on DNA and family history from Bennett Greenspan, Max Blankfeld and Mike Hammer from Family Tree DNA, as well as Brian Swann, Chris Pomery and Katherine Borges.

Talks this year include:
  • DNA for Genealogy - Basic Concepts
  • DNA Recruiting and Testing on Both Sides of the Pond
  • DNA Success Stories
  • New Frontiers for DNA and Genealogy
  • The Populating of the World According to DNA
  • Combining Traditional and Genetic Genealogy: lessons from leading surname projects
  • National Geographic's DNA Project - The Genographic Project
  • 'There's a Family History Here, Jim - but not (quite) as we know it!'
  • 21st Century Tools for the Genealogist
Come along to stalls 31 & 42 (they are next to one another) to meet the University of Strathclyde team who are overseeing the project. An event not to be missed if you are in the locality.