Genes

At the beginning of the year I started a family history project. While I had some vague notions of being Irish on my mother’s side and that my dad’s family was from the Netherlands, I had never actually done the work.

I’m now five months in to some preliminary research and am having a lot of fun amid some frustrations. There are a million and one roadblocks still in the way, but therein lies the thrill in sleuthing.

A very basic description of my family lines:

Paternal: both parents are from the Netherlands (they immigrated to Canada from Tull en ‘t Waal, near Houten, in the 1950s). Their families mostly lived in small communities around Utrecht province.
Maternal: my grandfather is from Prince Edward Island and descends from 18 and 19th century Irish and English immigrants. My grandmother is from New Brunswick and descends from 18 and 19th century Northern Irish and English immigrants.

While this is my first foray in genealogical research, I did take a 23andMe test about 6 years ago and, this week, my AncestryDNA results came back. Here’s a quick look at the results of these two tests:

23andMe describes this test as follows: [the test] analyzes variations at specific positions in your genome. These variations, called SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), have the potential to tell you about your ancestry, your traits—such as eye or hair color—and certain health conditions.

This test identified my maternal haplogroup as H3 and gave the following “speculative” ancestry breakdown (this is the default view of your ancestry composition):

23andMe1.PNG

The “standard” ancestry breakdown goes from being most heavily weighted towards British and Irish to being “Broadly Northwestern European”:23andMe2

A few days ago my AncestryDNA results became available after a three month wait. Ancestry describes their test as follows:

The AncestryDNA test uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing, which surveys a person’s entire genome at over 700,000 locations.

Your ethnicity estimate shows where your ancestors came from hundreds to thousands of years ago. We calculate it by comparing your DNA to the DNA of a reference panel of people with deep roots to specific places around the world.

This is the default ancestry composition for my test:

AncestryDNA.PNG

Europe West is defined by Ancestry as primarily located in Belgium, France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein. Other countries listed include: England, Denmark, Italy, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic.

The test also included a new feature: “genetic communities.” It suggests that I have a 20% chance (rated as “possible” in their scale of no connection, possible, likely, and very likely) of being part of the “Scots” genetic community. I’m going to look more into this feature and its implications in another post.

These tests don’t really hold a lot of meaning for me, but it doesn’t mean that one day they won’t. For example, the Scandinavian and Finnish results could be from prior settlers of Ireland and the UK. Or, it could be something completely different. I’m looking forward to learning more about how these tests work and how they differ by company.

 

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