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Using DNA Testing

 
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 386
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:16 am    Post subject: Using DNA Testing Reply with quote

How many of you have used (or considered using) DNA testing to help trace your family history? One sees a lot of advertising that suggests it can show you what areas your ancestors came from. One ad in particular depicts a man dressed in lederhosen because he thought his ancestors came from Germany. The results of his testing showed that they came from Scotland so he switches to kilts. (See https://blogs.ancestry.com/cm/queens-native-trades-lederhosen-for-kilt-after-dna-test/ and the follow-up at https://dna-explained.com/2016/02/10/ethnicity-testing-a-conundrum/.)

Primarily out of curiosity, I submitted a sample for testing to see what the results would be. The results I got back were illustrated in the figure shown below; 60% British, 31% Scandinavian, and 9% East European. The only problem is that all of my ancestors came from Northern Germany and traces of each of the family lines show them living in the same area back to the 1600s. My paternal grandfather emigrated from Meinstedt, Germany (Hanover). My paternal grandmother's family came from Metel, Germany (Hanover). My maternal grandfather's family came from Esperke, Germany (Hanover). My maternal grandmother's family came from Borgholzhausen, Germany (Westphalia).

So how does one explain the discrepancy? The testing company states that they derive their results by comparing your DNA to that of a "reference population". Posted on the web are the following vague generalities:

"Who are you? Thatís a question with many possible answers. You are the
sum of a lifetime of experiences. You are the result of choices you have
made. You are the result of truths your parents instilled in you. You
are the outcome of values drawn from your culture. From a genetic
perspective, however, you are the outcome of a long process of
genealogical fusion. A man and a woman coming together, one of millions
on a vast constellation which explodes out across the earth, and
coalesces back to a few ancient progenitors.

The personal tree of life ends with you.

How can you summarize the shape of this tree, and all of its branches?
There is no one way. myOrigins attempts to reduce the wild complexity of
your genealogy to the major historical-genetic themes which arc through
the life of our species since its emergence 100,000 years ago on the
plains of Africa. Each of our 18 clusters describe a vivid and critical
color on the palette from which history has drawn the brushstrokes which
form the complexity that is your own genome. Though we are all different
and distinct, we are also drawn from the same fundamental elements.

The explanatory narratives in myOrigins attempt to shed some detailed
light upon each of the threads which we have highlighted in your genetic
code. Though the discrete elements are common to all humans, the weight
you give to each element is unique to you. Each individual therefore
receives a narrative fabric tailored to their own personal history, a
story stitched together from bits of DNA."

Does that sound like the results they send to you are accurate and useful for tracing your ancestors?



RLP origins.JPG
 Description:
DNA testing results
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RLP origins.JPG




Last edited by roger.pape on Thu Feb 16, 2017 10:21 am; edited 2 times in total
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 386
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:45 am    Post subject: Testing company response Reply with quote

Just received the following response from the testing company with their explanation as to the discrepancies.

"Thanks for contacting us. The myOrigins results are your personal genetic ancestry that reflects the last 100 to 2,000 years (about four to 80 generations). They may also reflect one population that mixed with another in ancient times and became fixed in one of your populations.
Because of this, and because populations within Europe moved around quite a lot over this time period, often times testers can see percentages for reference populations they did not expect, or in levels that are higher than they would expect. Not only is there normal immigration to take into consideration, but also wars. After the Thirty Years War, Germany's population was so depleted that their government invited and incentivized immigration from other parts of Europe to Germany to help rebuild their country. Moves this far back in time can be genealogically forgotten, but not genetically."

I'm still a bit skeptical about the results. Granted, the area where my ancestors came from was devastated by the Thirty Years War [during the first half of the 1600s]; but it is hard to imagine that none of my ancestors lived in the area before then and that the majority of the family immigrated to the area from Great Britain after that time. Perhaps some Scandinavian influence might have occurred because of the Swedish occupation after the war. At what point in time does one draw the line to say from what area your ancestors originated? (If they go back far enough, they would say we all came from Africa.)

If you are interested in using DNA testing, be sure to read the posting at https://dna-explained.com/2017/01/11/concepts-calculating-ethnicity-percentages/. Knowing her family history in detail, she did a very thorough comparison of various companies results and summarizes the value of them concluding with "What's the point?".
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
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Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Wed Mar 29, 2017 8:10 am    Post subject: Lack of German DNA samples Reply with quote

I recently attended a meeting about DNA testing and questioned the accuracy of the ethnic makeup traces provided by the various DNA testing companies. Citing my experience, the question involved why my trace included zero German ancestry although all branches of my family had been traced to northern Germany since as early as the 1600s. My theory was that there was a problem with the "reference populations" the companies use to make these projections.

The presenter gave a brief explanation about how these reference populations were derived, but noted that there was a particularly small sample of German people which underweighted the influence of that group in the results.

That got me to thinking about why Germans were reluctant to have their DNA tested and may have come up with a possible explanation. The people in northern Germany were always characterized as reserved, associating only with their own kind. That helps explain why Concordia remained such a close-knit German community for so long. (An "ethnic cocoon" in Frizzell's terms.)

This characteristic can be traced back to the early 1600s when the Thirty Years War devastated the area. But there may be another more recent explanation dating back to the WWII era. During the 1930's and 40's, the Nazis used church records to trace the ethnicity of people to determine if they were of the pure Arian race. When the churches figured out what was going on, they hid or even burned their old church books. But actually that didn't really help. In the 1800s, the various German provinces did not have civil records of births, marriages, and deaths; so they ordered the churches to make copies of their records at the end of each year (Kirchenbuchduplikat) and submit them to the state archives. [Note. Most of the old German church records that are available on microfilm or that have been indexed are those copies from the state archives.]

Could this possibly explain why so few Germans have had their DNA tested or is it simply poor marketing in that area?

While I did not need a DNA test to trace my ancestors, I submitted a sample out of curiosity to see what the results would be. You can see those results above. Even though the ethnicity trace may not be that accurate, the DNA testing companies attempt to determine if you have any relatives based on matching DNA segments. This, of course, depends on who else has had their DNA tested. So far I have received minimal matches, mostly potential 4th to 6th cousins. However, I did locate one distant Frerking relative.
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roger.pape
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Joined: 17 Mar 2009
Posts: 386
Location: Liverpool, NY

PostPosted: Thu Apr 06, 2017 1:15 pm    Post subject: Updated DNA Trace Reply with quote

I recently received a notice from the company the tested my DNA (FamilyTreeDNA) that they had updated their myOrigins feature (which traces one's ethnicity). Rechecking my results, they were much closer to what I had expected. The results are shown below. Note that it indicates that my ancestors were 74% West and Central European and 25% Scandinavian with a possible trace of British and East European blood. The company's website states that they have "new and newly refined reference populations". That confirms my suspicion that the accuracy of these projections depends on the way in which these testing companies collect and use the samples to define geographic areas for their "reference populations".

Note that the area from which my ancestors came is on the northern fringe of how this company defines the West and Central Europe group. It is possible that I have a significant portion of Scandinavian blood resulting from the Swedish occupation of Northern Germany after the Thirty Years War.



New RLP origins plot.JPG
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New RLP origins plot.JPG


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