Talk:Genetic genealogy

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Biogeographical and ethnic origins section[edit]

I think a more "astonishing" example should be found - I've barely studied any ancient history at all, and if you'd asked me to guess where the Maltese people came from, the fact that it was central to Phoenician trade would certainly have been part of my first WAG.

2013-03-12 — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 08:40, 12 March 2013 (UTC)

Mututation rate[edit]

Since the Y chromosome deteriorates with each generation, and since that happens in a consistent way, can't we do a little math to determine how long humans have existed? —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 8r13n (talkcontribs) .

The trouble is the markers (Y-STR) used in studies of males can fluctuate up and down, so there's no way to track changes. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Donpanther (talkcontribs) .

"Since the Y chromosome deteriorates with each generation" I think the word "deteriorates" implies that *all* mutations are, uniformly, 'bad'. I prefer to believe that some are bad (the descendents could go extinct), some are neutral (but genetic variety in a population increases odds of species survival in the face of a near-extinction event) and some are good (a forward 'evolutionary step').

Mutation events are sporadic but, looked at on a sufficiently large timescale, it is possible to express it as a "mutation rate", which is regarded as being more or less constant. A certain percentage of these will be 'fatal mutations' (the fertilized egg is unviable or foetal development fails) and thus are not propagated down the generations, distorting any rate-based extrapolation you might attempt. The point of the genetic markers is that they are in either in non-critical stretches of DNA (don't code for a protein at all) or the gene-product is unharmed, due to triplet-code redundancy, or else an amino acid substitution is in a non-critical location.

"can't we do a little math to determine how long humans have existed?" I don't understand why you would want to do that at all - an answer to the nearest 0.1m years is good enough for most of us. Can't we leave that to the archaeologists and paleontologists? EatYerGreens 12:53, 21 February 2007 (UTC)

Acceptance of DNA Testing[edit]

Since Demarce's review was written in 1994 and Brent Kennedy's book before that, neither knew what any future DNA testing would reveal.

Sorry I cannot login on this PC.

Privacy and Ethical Concerns[edit]

The discussion of privacy concerns in the article is dismissive, what about the kid that used FTDNA in combination with other databases to track down his father (anonymous sperm donor) there may be more to this, any ideas?

Also what about the ethical implications? Not that we want to scare people but it is good to come up with reasoned responses to concerns, some of which may appear to be theoretical now but turn into actual concerns in the future. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talkcontribs)

  • If you find the article lacking, please feel free to fix it. Please flesh out the privacy and ethical concerns. As for the boy who tracked down his father, using a Y-DNA test will only help you determine your father's last name (surname). The boy had a additional information about his father that he learned from his mother; without additional information he would not have been able to proceed. -- Reinyday, 18:04, 30 March 2006 (UTC)


Hi, I agree: privacy and ethical concerns are not the biggest drawbacks, and neither is cost, which ranges all over the place, from low end to high end, so everybody seems to find what they want. The Ethnogenic project is low end, but few seem to complain -- WYSIWYG.

I know of several cases where adoptees have actually located their biological fathers through Y chrom testing. Also, through a combination of Y chrom testing and autosomal ethnotyping there is a case of a seven-year-old boy who is the product of artificial insemination whose mother verified the sperm donor was one-quarter Cherokee, and they may have found the surname. They are now in correspondence with tribal registration in Cherokee, NC.

The biggest drawback according to actual surveys (actually there is only one conducted by a market research firm) is not understanding which test to take and not understanding the results when they come. One DNA test company (that shall remain unnamed) receives complaints of this nature and multiple calls and emails on roughly one-fourth of their tests. I'm almost afraid to mention that another company (that shall also remain nameless) supplies customized reports for this very reason and has probably the highest customer satisfaction in the business.

I would change this section if others agree it should be. I won't name names.

Donpanther 21:28, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

I say go for it. There have been plenty of scholarly articles about privacy issues. What this article truely needs is a bit more sourcing.:-)--RebekahThorn 02:30, 18 August 2006 (UTC)


Hi, A big thank you to everyone who has been chipping in to improve things. I do not want to make wholesale changes to the article's structure but I am not sure that section 3, 4, and 5 should be split out the way they are. --RebekahThorn 22:55, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

I am thinking of something like:

   * 1 History
   * 2 Tests
         o 2.1 Paternal lineages
         o 2.2 Maternal lineages
         o 2.3 Biogeographical and ethnic origins
               -- Autosomal STR Tests
               -- Autosomal SNP Tests
   * 3 Uses
         o 3.1 Human migration
         o 3.2 Benefits
         o 3.3 Drawbacks
               -- Acceptance of DNA Testing
   * 4 Typical users
   * 5 Expected growth
   * 6 References
   * 7 See also
   * 8 External links and resources
         o 8.1 News
         o 8.2 Mailing lists and forums
         o 8.3 Additional information
         o 8.4 Sample DNA Ancestry Reports
         o 8.5 Organizations
         o 8.6 DNA databases

I hope I am not stepping on anyone's toes by suggesting this.--RebekahThorn 23:11, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

    • There are no one's toes to step on: no one owns the article anymore than you do. I have, however, made a few revisions that relate to your suggestions. The "Acceptance" content was pretty uninformative (and non-neutral, arguably), so I moved some of it to "History" and deleted the rest. I think there are plenty of important things to say in "Drawbacks", including the criticism of DNA tests as they relate to race, but I haven't attempted to add that to the stew yet. Also, this article conflicts with the article on Genealogical_DNA_test as to the most common objection: is it the cost or is it the explanation of the results? The other article at least has a source, so unless there is a source for "cost" then it should be edited to reflect the drawbacks from the other article. Vineviz 23:36, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation[edit]

Does anyone know how the sorenson DNA project funds itself? Maybe I'm paranoid but the freeness of it makes me nervous. Sandwich Eater 22:38, 27 July 2006 (UTC)

From — Reinyday, 05:25, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

The Sorenson database is funded no differently from, and DNA Heritage's -- that is as a public service. Tests are not free, only inclusion in a database. Donpanther 20:03, 28 July 2006 (UTC)

  • I disagree. First of all, participation in the Sorenson project is indeed free[1]. Second of all,,, are all provided as free services by companies that sell test kits, and can be seen as promoting their services. The Sorenson project is not trying to sell services, but rather provide an additional tool for Mormons to conduct their religious activity of converting their ancestors to Mormonism. — Reinyday, 04:15, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

link removals[edit]

A recent IP / new user has been removing what he deems "commercial links", accompanied by comments demonstrating he does not understand Wikipedia policy on linking. He's also mistaken in several instances about whether these links are commercial or not. Since these links are informative databases that are almost essential to anyone interested in genetic genealogy, I've restored them, with an admonition to discuss before deleting such material again. - Nunh-huh 06:01, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

Response to above: Firstly, as a correction to the above statement, the editor is a "she" and not "he" and has a Ph.D in molecular genetics. The editor was reading the genetic genealogy article for the first time yesterday and noticed that there was an appalling bias in the the article towards two private DNA reseller companies, namely DNA Heritage and FTDNA, as well as a bias towards listing projects associated with a private DNA reseller company which profits through testing. As a researcher in this field, I have extensive knowledge of the various labs and projects that are available today worldwide. Yesterday, I compiled a complete list of other projects and databases that are available worldwide, and began by adding additional databases that I am aware of, much like those of DNA Heritage and FTDNA. However, before I was able to even finish adding one of at least five new databases and projects that I had identified, my additions were deleted. The rational of the deleter was that databases and projects sponsored by private companies are considered advertisements and should not be included. There are many more databases and projects that I am aware of, and they should all be listed here, instead of just promoting the products of two private DNA reseller companies. These companies are very good at marketing themselves to the general public and may have led some to believe that their projects and databases have no commercial interests. I have only removed the ones which I know, from the back end, are definitely commerical or have strong commercial ties. I am very aware of which projects and links are commercial and which ones are not. I do not want to keep on deleting links, but feel that it is important that the public be given a non-biased view of this topic. I do not mind showing the links of commercially backed databases and projects, but feel that it should be done only if all available projects and databases are presented to the reader. I am very open to discussion on this topic. I am very diplomatic but have a strong bias against commercial monopolization of an academic site. I feel that I will be able to contribute a lot of scientific information to this section on an ongoing basis as the field progresses. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Geneticgenealogist (talkcontribs) .

Apologies for failing to divine your sex and your doctorate: the fact remains that you can still learn many lesser things, like the actual Wikipedia standards for linking, which differ radically from your edit summary comments. You should indeed have proceded as you indicated you did, by adding, not deleting: if people are inappropriately deleting content that you deem proper, you can ask for assistance at Wikipedia:Requests for administrator attention, or you can ask for my assistance at User talk:Nunh-huh: if someone has been so foolish as to have broken the 3 revert rule you can report them at Wikipedia:Administrators' noticeboard/3RR. Inappropriate deletions will be reverted. Diplomatic skills, are, sadly, just as necessary for our purposes here as is knowledge. Discussion before going on a campaign to remove links is always appropriate. The fact that someone is a commercial interest is not a reason to remove their link. Projects and unique resources that would be of value to the reader are clearly pertinent to the article, regardless of who is sponsoring them. (You can sign your talk-page comments by closing with four tildes ~~~~ which will be converted to a link to your user-page when the page is saved. - Nunh-huh 22:59, 13 July 2006 (UTC)

My appologies too for not being familiar with the Wikipedia standards when I first started contributing. I am new at Wikipedia and am just now becoming more familiar with the etiquette for editing. I had initially began by adding content and links, but before I was able to finish my list, everything that I had added was deleted with the explanation that the additional projects that I was adding were commercial, regardless of the fact that most of the existing links that I saw were in fact also commercial. There are many projects available and I didn't want the public to be misled. Whether commercial or non-commercial, there have been many scientists and labs involved in the research who have put in a lot of hard work for many years and most do not involve the Genographic project or FTDNA. Genographic project only jumped on the bandwagon in 2005 and had mass marketing appeal, but is by no means representative of the projects and efforts that have been going on for so many years, whether commercial or academic. Even though Genographic project is by far the newest one that has emerged, it is erroneously percieved by the general public as the only project or the flagship project in this field. Many people jump into it not even knowing that only 12 markers are tested and not knowing that further than a generic piece of paper with results, participants could not further interact. Many commercial and academic projects existed for many years prior. Also, as you may already be aware, FTDNA is considered by the DNA testing community to be a "reseller". Resellers are businessmen, usually not even scientists with no DNA background, who purchase DNA tests from laboratories, mark up the price and resell them to the public for profit. There are many reasons why Quality Auditors frown upon resellers and middle-men. One of the concerns is client technical support. Resellers are usually not scientists and have absolutely no scientific background and are not audited for genetic data confidentiality requirements. Almost all accrediting bodies will only accredit the actual laboratory and not resellers. Another concern is confidentiality of client information and the handling of genetic material. Laboratories have internal quality control for receiving, processing, and storing genetic material and data. However, when a client sends their genetic material to a middle-man who then ships the samples to another laboratory for testing, there is an added step where confidentiality and chain of custody can be compromised. Whether it's the International Standards Organization (ISO) which accredits laboratories to ISO17025 standards, or the AABB which accredits for DNA identity analysis and DNA handling, such accrediting bodies do not support resellers and middle-men merchants when it comes to DNA handling nor do they support reselling of DNA tests by resellers. Because most resellers are businessmen and not scientists, they are often successful in convincing clients that passing confidential genetic material through their hands is more secure than sending samples directly to a laboratory. These are just some of the concerns that plague the scientific community and many Accrediting bodies are in fact cracking down on resellers. It may be important to keep the content as impartial as possible and perhaps even providing a better outlook of the entire picture. Any feedback is welcome. July 20, 2006 —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Geneticgenealogist (talkcontribs) .

I believe DNA Heritage is the only laboratory to be ISO 17025 accredited for genealogical testing. — Reinyday, 04:56, 21 July 2006 (UTC)

Personally I see nothing wrong with links to commercial companies as they have the best information on this subject. Would you remove a link to Pfizer, Bayer et al. in an article on ED? There are links to commercial companies all through Wikipedia. It's not as though DNA test companies are trying to get free advertising, and if someone feels left out they can add their company. I think the Wikipedia policy only applies to blatant marketing efforts and undisguised "plugs" of products or services.

Oh, and the only ISo accredited genomics lab is Sorenson Genomics, which is used not only by DNA Heritage but several other companies. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Donpanther (talkcontribs) .

Whew! What a mare's nest! It seems to me that someone has to sell the DNA tests, since the labs are not sales organizations. And as I understand it, confidentiality and chain of custody are NOT issues with the "resellers," who are not government regulated but who are self regulated. Home DNA tests marketed on the Internet are not prescription drugs or controlled substances. Diagnostic tests for colon cancer are routinely sold by mail and people send their feces smears away to unknown companies and labs but no one screams about middle men or privacy issues. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

Caution must be used in adding links, especially external links. External links may, according to current Wikipedia consensus, be used in some cases but this article seems to be attracting an undue amount of avoidable external links. I have removed a few that seem to violate the Links normally to be avoided guidelines. Vineviz 21:12, 18 August 2006 (UTC)

merging genetic genealogy with dna test companies[edit]

It makes sense to me, but I have followed the "genetic genealogists" long enough on such lists as DNA-Genealogy (as a lurker, mind you) that it strikes me they probably feel they "own" this article and aren't going to brook any changes like this. My vote is yes, merge them. Could you have an article on genealogy without mentioning and other commercial companies? Moreover, genetic genealogy is not taught in any university (to my knowledge), so the only sources of knowledge about it come from commercial companies, books and articles in print, hobbyists (like DNA-Genealogy) and/or the Internet. Just my opinion. And for what it's worth, I'm an RN and know that THE source for pharmacological knowledge comes to doctors from their pharmaceutical sales reps. Oh, the crassness! Oh, the commercialism! O tempora! O mores! —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) .

  • I also would like to see them merged. I already moved the history section. No one "owns" any article in the Wikipedia. — Reinyday, 14:58, 27 July 2006 (UTC)
    • Agree - the two articles would be better on the same page. --apers0n 08:09, 28 July 2006 (UTC)
      • Agreed - I would not say that the DNA-Genealogy list thinks that they own the article... It would be nice to edit one without having to avoid talking about those <gasp> test companies. Shall I start pulling the information in from DNA test companies?--RebekahThorn 07:05, 13 September 2006 (UTC)

I ment to say that I am not sure why [Genetic genealogy] and [Genealogical DNA test] are two articles. What are the boundaries for each article?


If this meant to be an encyclopedic article about the field of genetic genealogy, then a chronology of commerical firms should offer some insight into the field or be pared. Perhaps some nod to the largest firms is appopriate in some context, but I don't see it. The text I edited in the History section read more like a yellow pages than an encyclopedia. I think my edits are consistent with the policies at WP:NOT. Vineviz 20:57, 17 August 2006 (UTC)

Darwin Image[edit]

Why do we have Darwin's picture posted here? Although he is very briefly mentioned a large image of him leading the article does not seem justified.--RebekahThorn (talk) 10:26, 20 December 2007 (UTC)

Proposal to create a WikiProject: Genetic History[edit]

I have put up a suggestion at Wikipedia:WikiProject Council/Proposals to create a new WikiProject, WikiProject: Genetic History.

To quote from what I've written there:

A wikiproject for articles on DNA research into genetic genealogy and genealogical DNA tests; the history and spread of human populations as revealed by eg human Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups; and similar. Many such articles can be found in Category:Genetic genealogy and its subcategories, notably the subcategories on human haplogroups.
  • My direct motivation for seeking this Wikiproject was a recent run-in at Y-chromosomal Aaron, where I desperately missed the lack of a relevant WikiProject talk page to go to, to attract the input, advice and views of knowledgeable editors in this area.
There's a lot of general public interest in the proposed subject area -- eg the Y-chromosomal Aaron page is apparently getting well over 100 hits a day, and over the last 18 months or so there's been a lot of material added, by a fair number of different editors, mostly editing different pages which are particularly relevant to them. IMO, a central wikiproject would be useful, and also a good place to be able to bring WP:OR, WP:V, and WP:general cluelessness issues for wider informed input.
Wikipedia:WikiProject Molecular and Cellular Biology and Wikipedia:WikiProject Evolutionary biology do already exist, but their focus is much much broader. With regard to those project's charters, I believe the subject would be seen as a rather specialist niche topic area, rather out of the mainstream of those project's normal focus. On the other hand, I believe that there are a number of wikipedia editors (and readers) who are specifically interested in the subject, who would find advantage if there were a specific wikiproject for it. Jheald (talk) 12:56, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

If people think this would be a good idea, it's a target for WikiProjects to have at least five "interested" signatures to show there's some support, before they get going.

Alternatively, if people think it would be a bad idea, please leave a comment in the comments section.

Either way, please show what you think, at Wikipedia:WikiProject_Council/Proposals#Genetic_History

Thanks, Jheald (talk) 13:19, 22 February 2008 (UTC)

TED video of Dirk Schweitzer[edit]

Well, according to user "Johnuniq", providing a link to a non-commercial TEDx talk about Genetic Genealogy is not helpful ( to accomplish the mission of this Wikipedia article! It would be nice if Wikipedia would be a resource to which everyone would be allowed to contribute, and not just the personal playground of those who like to remove the contributions of others! Dirk ec (talk) 02:52, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

I moved the above new comment to here from #link removals above because this is a new topic.
The issue concerns whether it is desirable to add this link which is a Youtube video of a TED talk. I watched a couple of minutes of the talk, then removed the link with edit summary: please explain on talk why this is helpful; see WP:EL.
Bearing in mind that we already have this link (pdf of presentation) it is reasonable to ask why the new link is desirable: briefly, what extra material is shown in the video? Please review WP:EL and understand that a large number of people try to add links every day, so some justification is needed. Johnuniq (talk) 03:56, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

1. The original location (link removals) was appropriate since you removed 2 links!
2. Your statement "bearing in mind that we already have..." is not correct, see . As you also see in my description to this comparison, I already explained the reason for my original change. Previously, the link to my /DNATests.html page was present. If any, the info provided in this previous link is commercial, and by now also much more detailed tests are possible. In comparison, the 2 links that I added as an replacement show a non-commercial TEDx talk and its accompanying slides in the .pdf file. I feel these 2 newly added links provide helpful information for people who visit this Wikipedia page because they want to learn about this, for them new, topic.Dirk ec (talk) 05:04, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

I see that I was a bit confused by your edit and made an incorrect assumption about the diff (the difference showing the edit change). I now notice that there is a WP:COI issue so I suggest you wait 24 hours. If there are no further comments, please make your change again (just undo my change, adding edit summary something like "per talk page"). I don't think you have really addressed the issue I mentioned, namely what does the video add to the article, but if no one else speaks up I have no problem with your change. It is always a good idea to proceed slowly when adding links, so I recommend waiting 24 hours. Johnuniq (talk) 07:25, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

A link to a video allows [auditory learners] to listen to the information presented in a natural voice. Since you were the one who reversed my original change, I believe it is most appropriate if you undo your own change.Dirk ec (talk) 15:39, 30 May 2010 (UTC)

My mistake was only a confusion over what link had been added/changed. As I said, I watched the first couple of minutes of the video. Unfortunately the start of a talk is invariably light on content so I did not give the video a good trial, although I did see that the graphics were indistinct in the video. I have asked for a brief statement of how the video assists the article (e.g. is there a fact mentioned that is not in the article?). I am not ready to endorse the video, but have offered an alternative procedure which is very acceptable: instead of "per talk page", you could say "as agreed on talk page" if you like. That is standard procedure here, although of course an independent editor may arrive later and add their own thoughts. Johnuniq (talk) 04:30, 31 May 2010 (UTC)


This had been used as a source for the article, but none of the claims in the article would actually be verified by this source. So I removed them and am placing the source here in case someone can come up with something encyclopedic to add to the article. -- TRPoD aka The Red Pen of Doom 18:07, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

Proposal to merge ISOGG into Genetic Genealogy[edit]

Please join the talk page, talk:ISOGG. --RebekahThorn (talk) 18:18, 1 July 2013 (UTC)

what is the boundary of genetic genealogy[edit]

After a first look through this article I just thought it worthwhile to point to an issue that editors on this article will have to grapple with and deal with in some sort of consistent way: genetic genealogists have always tended to have an interest in population genetics, but the two are apparently more distinct in my mind than in the minds of many genetic genealogists. (Keep in mind that I am a genetic genealogist and known for my position on this matter.)

The term "deep ancestry" to mean issues related to population genetics was common some years ago amongst genetic genealogists. The basic idea was that it all has to do with filling gaps in family trees, except that traditional genealogy is limited to the period of a few centuries where you can actually draw a paper trail and know the names of the "nodes". But things have gone much further now with things like:

  • The National Genographic project. In my mind it is not genealogy, but this article currently emphasizes how it brought more people to genealogy, which is another more relevant matter (but unfortunately I think hard to source?)
  • Autosomal DNA testing being offered by genetic genealogy testing companies like Family Tree DNA, whose original more proven genetic genealogy product revolved around Y DNA and surname projects. (In my mind a bit of a waste of money for normal genealogists, and a diversion from what is known to work.)
  • People like Anatole Klyosov arguing widely around the internet, and gaining support, for saying that there is no meaningful distinction between "genealogy" and studies of haplogroups going back thousands of years.

Please note that I obviously have nothing against people having both of these interests, because I also have them. This is partly just a question of word use and categorization. I suspect there is no perfect reconciliation between these two ways of categorizing things, but equally I do tend to think that there is at the very least a "primary" meaning of genetic genealogy, and a broader secondary meaning. The way the article weighs these two meanings now seems ok to me FWIW.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 15:31, 2 July 2013 (UTC)

"Genetic astrology", critiques by geneticists (and legal responses)[edit]

This BBC radio documentary[2] has Adam Rutherford talking to "to Professor Mark Jobling from the University of Leicester, Professor Mark Thomas from University College London and to Debbie Kennett, author, blogger and member of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, about the scientific lines they believe some genetic ancestry companies cross, when they provide people with stories about their ancient ancestors and their ancient genetic homelands." Anyone have time to listen to it and use it?

I hadn't run across the term "genetic astrology" before, but see this search.[3] University College London has a website on genetic astrology.[4] which I'll add as an EL until it can be used as a source. One response to the website from a company is at [5]. The whole thing seems to have involved legal threats.[6] [7]

Sense about Science has written about genetic testing and has written a guide.[8] which I've added as a link.

See also a mention about it being big business in the UK Telegraph newspaper.[9] Doug Weller talk 12:42, 8 February 2016 (UTC)

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