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View Full Version : Y DNA for the genetic genealogist who is starting from zero (SNPs vs STRs)



TigerMW
01-07-2015, 05:40 PM
This has come up on other forums that were more specific so I created this thread for those who are truly interested. It is a hypothetical situation.

What advice do you give a person who is interested in genetic genealogy and paternal lineage research?

Let us assume we have access to brothers and male cousins and we think our genealogy is correct. However, we can't say for sure that the surname heritage has continuity for more than a couple of generations. We'll place the potential tester in the U.S. because a lot of interested testers live tjat and that leaves the possibilities for an origin quite wide open.

Part of the instigation of this hypothetical was a general question about SNPs and STRs.

(Deletion / retraction)

That is not say one vendor's approach is logical and correct and another's is not.

These are logical and open questions that are clearly worthy of discussion even if there are factions involved.

vettor
01-07-2015, 06:04 PM
This has come up on other forums that were more specific so I created this thread for those who are truly interested. It is hypothetical situation.

What advice do you give a person who is interested in genetic genealogy and paternal lineage research?

Let us assume we have access to brothers and male cousins and we think our genealogy is correct. However, we can't say for sure that the surname heritage has continuity for more than a couple of generations. We'll place the potential tester in the U.S. because a lot of interested testers live tjat and that leaves the possibilities for an origin quite wide open.

Part of the instigation of this hypothetical was a general question about SNPs and STRs.

I'll be frank, I think some of the instigation for these discussions has to do with attempts to fracture the genetic genealogy community along vendor lines. I think some has to do with people have been burnt and rightfully feel so.

That is not say one vendor's approach is logical and correct and another's is not.

These are logical and open questions that are clearly worthy of discussion even if there are factions involved.

Well, you need to split the community into the following and see which is the best path for them to take.
there are different wants of the people:

1 - I want to know what ancient tribe I belong to ( not an area )
2 - I want to know my paternal lines ( family trees )
3 - I want to know what medical issues I have
4 - I want to know who are my "cousins"

You can see lately that the trend is to test for family finder only to aid in #4

Most people , over 50% have no want to pursue the SNP of their own markers, they want realtionship with lost cousins.

You need to decide if STR or SNP aid a person in any of the above.

I also believe that once people understand that they cannot get an answer of #1, 2, and 3 the number of new tests will be far less.

.....................

As for me, I went into this for #1 and #2....................none have helped me, so #2 i get via registers of birth and marriages and then use these to obtain and link up with #4 to get a result
I have made a match from circa 1800 and that has aided me in my family tree for a "lost cousin"

rms2
01-07-2015, 06:09 PM
My off-the-cuff answer is both STRs and SNPs, but, if pressed for one or the other, I would say, if your interest is primarily genealogical, begin with STRs but get as many of them as you can right up front.

STR matches are very informative for genealogical purposes. One's haplotype can also be used to narrow the field for later SNP testing. Haplotype clues are especially useful and cost effective if one cannot afford to test the entire y genome or a substantial part of it right away. One can also look at one's STR matches for men who have already done some SNP testing and have tested positive for some of them.

Of course, some folks test up their STRs only to find they have few or no matches. In that case, they will have to pursue some other avenue or get out and actively recruit some potential testing targets. Family Finder and 23andMe are especially useful in finding people who are autosomal matches and might be potential y-dna matches or leads to potential y-dna matches (like a female match who appears to match you on the paternal line and who might be able to turn up a male relative for y-dna testing).

To make a long story short, the person who is really interested in pursuing genetic genealogy is probably going to have to pursue more than one approach and lay down some serious cash in order to do it.

As far as I am concerned, getting into dna testing and genetic genealogy has been one of the best things I have ever done. I don't regret any of it or the money spent, and I have spent a lot. It has given me countless hours of fun, and I have learned much much more than I ever could have through traditional paper trail genealogy.

Wing Genealogist
01-07-2015, 06:46 PM
To me, NGS testing is a game-changer. Before NGS testing, STRs did a better job with documenting "family" relationships, while SNPs did a better job with documenting ancient / "tribal" relationships. However, with NGS testing (especially as the testing continues to test a larger portion of the Y for a lower price) can do it all. The Big-Y results of three members of my family (representing three brothers born 1609-1621) documented a minimum of 4 Singleton mutations and a maximum of 12 singleton mutations since this division. Some of the 12 singleton mutations were in the 224... region (DYZ?) which are problematic, but even eliminating those, there are still enough SNP mutations in the Big Y to separate out the branches of the family to the relatively recent present (circa 1800-1850).

rms2
01-07-2015, 07:07 PM
To me, NGS testing is a game-changer. Before NGS testing, STRs did a better job with documenting "family" relationships, while SNPs did a better job with documenting ancient / "tribal" relationships. However, with NGS testing (especially as the testing continues to test a larger portion of the Y for a lower price) can do it all. The Big-Y results of three members of my family (representing three brothers born 1609-1621) documented a minimum of 4 Singleton mutations and a maximum of 12 singleton mutations since this division. Some of the 12 singleton mutations were in the 224... region (DYZ?) which are problematic, but even eliminating those, there are still enough SNP mutations in the Big Y to separate out the branches of the family to the relatively recent present (circa 1800-1850).

You are right, of course, but the cost of testing the whole Y or a large portion of it is a significant obstacle to dna testing for most people. I think it will have to come down to the $250 range to be really viable.

TigerMW
01-07-2015, 08:18 PM
Well, you need to split the community into the following and see which is the best path for them to take.
there are different wants of the people:

1 - I want to know what ancient tribe I belong to ( not an area )
2 - I want to know my paternal lines ( family trees )
3 - I want to know what medical issues I have
4 - I want to know who are my "cousins"
....

I think there are many more potential hobbyist/consumer desires and situations than just those. There are all forms of bank accounts, risk orientation, concerns about health, privacy, desires to prove certain relationships, genealogical records available, etc., etc.

All of those desires and situations are fine. There is no one size fits all in my opinion.

I think the real trick, is for most of us as beginners, we really don't know what we want because we don't really know what can be done and with what practicality.... and even more importantly, we just haven't thought about it that much.

TigerMW
01-07-2015, 08:29 PM
You are right, of course, but the cost of testing the whole Y or a large portion of it is a significant obstacle to dna testing for most people. I think it will have to come down to the $250 range to be really viable.

This is strictly my opinion of the marketplace, but I think the large, large majority of people who will ever spend money on genetic genealogy will not spend more than $150 on the initial purchase... in fact $139 sounds a lot better than $150, $99 much better yet.

Now, back to reality, before all is said and done, most of these entry people will have to come to RMS's point about the serious cash requirement.


To make a long story short, the person who is really interested in pursuing genetic genealogy is probably going to have to pursue more than one approach and lay down some serious cash in order to do it.

rms2
01-07-2015, 08:49 PM
I agree.

I remember my initial 37-marker test from FTDNA cost $189. I was shocked when my wife was all for it. I thought she would not want to spend that much money on something so frivolous (which is how I thought she would characterize it). Turns out she knew how much it meant to me and thought it was a good idea, God bless her.

Wing Genealogist
01-07-2015, 09:09 PM
Much like any other hobby, Genetic Genealogy can be a real time and money hog, depending on how obsessed one becomes. I know the bug has bitten me bad, and I shiver to think how much I have spent over the years. But an even bigger issue is how much of my time I spend on the hobby. I have to admit to it harming relationships, and while I reply that at least I am at home, and not gallivanting around town doing who-knows-what, it still is a high price those around me pay.

BobFerguson
01-07-2015, 10:27 PM
Well, you need to split the community into the following and see which is the best path for them to take.
there are different wants of the people:

1 - I want to know what ancient tribe I belong to ( not an area )
2 - I want to know my paternal lines ( family trees )
3 - I want to know what medical issues I have
4 - I want to know who are my "cousins"

You can see lately that the trend is to test for family finder only to aid in #4

Most people , over 50% have no want to pursue the SNP of their own markers, they want realtionship with lost cousins.

You need to decide if STR or SNP aid a person in any of the above.

I also believe that once people understand that they cannot get an answer of #1, 2, and 3 the number of new tests will be far less.

.....................

As for me, I went into this for #1 and #2....................none have helped me, so #2 i get via registers of birth and marriages and then use these to obtain and link up with #4 to get a result
I have made a match from circa 1800 and that has aided me in my family tree for a "lost cousin"


I will agree that these are four good reasons some folk may be doing genetic testing. I took the initial bait from National Geographic (deep research) and they said I was from the British Isles. With my family name, good guess.

But reasons #1, #2 and maybe #4 sounded good to me. In the last two years, for reasons #1 & #2, I’ve come from ‘British Isles’ to ‘Did the Clan Colla folk burn down my grandfather Fergus’ house in Ulster? (331AD) or does my relationship to the Colla folk go back to Wales long before that? (My family splits from the Colla folk about 30 SNPs back.) That’s progress.

Finding ‘cousins’ has been a little problematic, so far (using FTDNA) only my brothers show a match, with a couple of additional folk coming close (two off) with mtDNA.

lgmayka
01-07-2015, 10:38 PM
I think it will have to come down to the $250 range to be really viable.
In the recent discount sale, a coupon (of which there were plenty) brought the price of the Big Y down to $425. Solicitations showed that that price was still a little too high for most people. However, I took a particularly important subset and offered an additional $100 subsidy out of my own pocket to each one. I got too many takers!

In short, $325 is getting very close to a mass-market product. I agree with you that a drop to $250 would put it "over the top."

TigerMW
01-07-2015, 11:46 PM
Much like any other hobby, Genetic Genealogy can be a real time and money hog, depending on how obsessed one becomes. .... .

I think in many ways the discussion of test planning becomes more of a battle with patience or the impatience of the passionate.

I don't remember which one of us posted this, but earlier this year I remember someone posting "I bought it because I never met a DNA test I didn't like." I think this was person explaining why he bought Big Y after buying FGC Elite, which believe it or not we have people who have done 111 STRs, FGC Elite, Big Y, WTY, Chromo 2 and probably 23andMe and some others.

This whole thing about testing does have a technology cycle to it. There will always be a better computer or smart phone next year or the year but if you wait you'll never buy anything. Hence, there is a value to time as well and some of us who just "need to know" and we don't want to wait. I think the good thing is that these are our pioneers and we owe them greatly.

lgmayka
01-08-2015, 12:15 AM
There will always be a better computer or smart phone next year or the year but if you wait you'll never buy anything. Hence, there is a value to time as well and some of us who just "need to know" and we don't want to wait. I think the good thing is that these are our pioneers and we owe them greatly.
There is a stronger reason to order tests now rather than later:

Concrete test results assure a haplogroup or ethnic group a "seat at the table" in planning future research or products. Otherwise, the ordinary tendency, in both commercial and academic work, is navel-gazing: to test oneself, one's own haplogroup and ethnic group, or perhaps the most lucrative or politically correct population segments. Targeted testing, at one's own expense, is the only way to attract attention from either the commercial or academic sectors.

I have often repeated the infamous example of the 1000 Genomes project, which steadfastly refused to recognize the presence of human life anywhere between the Netherlands and China.

vettor
01-08-2015, 12:51 AM
I wonder how many people tribecode will take from other companies as they seem to offer more for similar cost?

Petr
01-08-2015, 01:08 AM
I wonder how many people tribecode will take from other companies as they seem to offer more for similar cost?At present it looks like they offer almost nothing.

RobertCasey
01-08-2015, 11:28 AM
We need to determine what each individual interests are, so that we can satisfy their personal questions that they are trying to answer. Unfortunately, many want it all which normally dilutes what they will find. We need to set their expectation level that working on too many questions will result in less major progress on one particular line. It may take a while to determine what any individual may really want. So the first fork in the road are two major categories (genealogical and non-genealogical):

Non-Genealogical - Medical testing (no longer available in the US from 23andme), deep ancestry (limited to all-male lines and all-female lines) and ethnic origin testing. Of course, there are some genealogical aspects to deep ancestry and ethnic origins as well. However, in reality, if it does not break down brick walls on your ancestry chart or find more cousins and add to your family histories - it is obviously less genealogical in nature.

Once we have filtered out the non-genealogical reasons for testing, there is a big fork in the road of focusing on one or two all-male lines or many lines at once. This is the atDNA vs. YDNA decision. You can go both ways - but this is usually only done by the very addicted / curious crowd. We really need to get those entering the genetic world this valid choice.

The atDNA choice would be much better if their pedigree chart has some very large missing parts due to NPE events or just starting out in genealogy. However, if you have just started out, both traditional and genetic research could both be productive. Of course, the atDNA test has crude ethnic test included - but expectation levels normally far exceed the reality that these tests can currently deliver. But if the primary interest is to find NPE lines of their pedigree chart, atDNA is the way to go there.

The advantage of YDNA, is that holds more long term promise of solving brick walls of one's ancestry chart - but few have the funds/time to concentrate on more the one or two lines (and usually most put a lot more effort into just one all-male line). With YDNA, there are another three major forks in the road - The first fork is seeing which surname cluster that you belong to (and most end up pretty isolated). YSTR testing addresses this issue. The second fork in the road is enhancing the descendant tree of mankind that you belong to (which is an investment in future genealogical results for most). YSNP testing (after YSTR testing is the test for this). The third is also a major investment in the future for those whose YDNA who want to assist with building the descendant tree of mankind. Full YChr testing and individual YSNP testing (or panel testing) is the way to go for this fork in the road. This is usually a major investment in the future where two or three years from now, family YSNPs will be discovered on regular basis (added to the haplotree - not just a list of private YSNPs).

Another factor that we need to address is how many male descendants that survived from the deep ancestry, how genetically isolated their YDNA haplotype is from other groups and how well their part of the haplotree has been tested. The luckiest have large numbers of surviving male descendants, good genetic isolation from others with 67 markers and reasonably well tested: R-M222 and R-L226 are good examples of the best scenario where some real and very exciting near-genealogical progress is being made. These factors are more expectation level setting for investment in the future vs. getting more immediate results.

TigerMW
01-08-2015, 03:03 PM
There is a stronger reason to order tests now rather than later:

Concrete test results assure a haplogroup or ethnic group a "seat at the table" in planning future research or products. Otherwise, the ordinary tendency, in both commercial and academic work, is navel-gazing: to test oneself, one's own haplogroup and ethnic group, or perhaps the most lucrative or politically correct population segments. Targeted testing, at one's own expense, is the only way to attract attention from either the commercial or academic sectors.

I have often repeated the infamous example of the 1000 Genomes project, which steadfastly refused to recognize the presence of human life anywhere between the Netherlands and China.

Yes, you are absolutely correct. I was fortunate that some CEU (Caucasian European descent from Utah is my understanding of what it means) participated in an academic project with some kind of Next Generation Sequencing or discovery scanning technology and they found DF1 in him... which I have.

I can see also that the people doing NGS testing over the last year are being rewarded. The panels that YSEQ is putting out include these newly discovered SNPs and I saw that FTDNA did the same in their M222 bundle. My guess is that haplogroup G will be especially well represented. The project admin, Ray Banks, is a machine on this stuff.

Branches on the tree that have been well explored by the discoverer hobbyist testers have a much better chance of being represented in future tests for the masses and for research projects.

Branches that haven't been explored, well, we don't know they exist. It's like they are over edge of the cliff at the end of the world - the edge that Gallileo knew did not exist. We know the branches are there, but we have no maps to them.

vettor
01-08-2015, 04:52 PM
The advantage of YDNA, is that holds more long term promise of solving brick walls of one's ancestry chart - but few have the funds/time to concentrate on more the one or two lines (and usually most put a lot more effort into just one all-male line). With YDNA, there are another three major forks in the road - The first fork is seeing which surname cluster that you belong to (and most end up pretty isolated). YSTR testing addresses this issue. The second fork in the road is enhancing the descendant tree of mankind that you belong to (which is an investment in future genealogical results for most). YSNP testing (after YSTR testing is the test for this). The third is also a major investment in the future for those whose YDNA who want to assist with building the descendant tree of mankind. Full YChr testing and individual YSNP testing (or panel testing) is the way to go for this fork in the road. This is usually a major investment in the future where two or three years from now, family YSNPs will be discovered on regular basis (added to the haplotree - not just a list of private YSNPs).

.

2 of my top 3 matches for family matches in ftdna have not done any ydna or mtdna tests but purely only FF tests. I have asked them to do a ydna test and they state they are not interested and also, in their circle of very very many friends, all have only done a FF test. ( they are all from the USA )

Above is also the mentality of many, a mentality that states.....we hare from Europe and want to find our "cousins"/origins only.