Monday, February 27, 2012

DNA update: Results arrived at FamilyTreeDNA

A few weeks ago I uploaded data on five accounts from 23andMe to FamilyTreeDNA during an introductory sale.  The results arrived a few days ago.  I am still learning to navigate the site and manipulate the findings.  As anticipated, I have fewer matches at FamilyTreeDNA (231) versus 23andMe (1300+).  The advantage to this smaller number, though, is that the names of my matches are not hidden.  I can contact them whenever I wish.  At 23andMe, I had to request contact from my matches and most never responded.  (Until a few weeks ago at 23andMe, you could only send out five requests to correspond per day.  That limit has been lifted.)

The other feature that strikes me at FamilyTreeDNA is that immediate (parents) and close (uncle and third cousin) relatives are immediately viewable.  They are not hidden until both parties consent to be revealed, as is the process at 23andMe.  I found no surprise relatives at FamilyTreeDNA, but if you are nervous about finding a close relative you did not know of, 23andMe seems to provide more protection.  You can use an alias if this is a concern.

FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder.
These three people and their names popped up as close relatives.
You can imagine someone's dismay if this was not welcome news,
or delight if someone had been searching for their birth family.


Perhaps the biggest time-saving features are the filtering options.  You can compare matches in common with other relatives or find matches with surnames that match yours through the drop-down menu.  At 23andMe, I have been spending considerable time requesting people to accept contact, keeping a log of who and where they match, and then comparing them to my other close relatives in the system to try to figure out which branch may hold the common ancestor.  At FamilyTreeDNA, this is a filter in their Family Finder (similar to Relative Finder at 23andMe).  In five seconds I can get a list of people who match both my mother and her half-brother, thereby narrowing down those matches to my maternal grandmother's side of the family.  Or I can compare my father and his third cousin and get a list of those genetic cousins who match both of them and are likely related through the surnames of Cook or Neil.

Filtering options in Family Finder at FamilyTreeDNA.
The "In Common With" function should be very useful in narrowing down branches.


At FamilyTreeDNA, as was the case at 23andMe, my mother's results are influenced by her Jewish ancestry.
At this point, I do not know how much this inheritance pattern dominates her matches at FamilyTreeDNA.