EYRE-L ArchivesArchiver > EYRE > 2009-11 > 1257834620
From: Judy Ardine <>
Subject: [EYRE] Genealogical DNA Testing
Date: Tue, 10 Nov 2009 01:30:20 -0500
(CNN) -- Here's a fun exercise: Compare the DNA profiles of random
individuals who reside in different regions of the world, have little in
common and don't much resemble one another.
If you could do this, you'd find close DNA matches once in a while.
About three months ago Kevin Shepherdson, a Eurasian in Singapore,
discovered that his DNA matches strongly with Thomas Kurowski, a man of
Polish descent living in Rhode Island.
The men have never met, and they were unaware of each other.
Both of them research their family history as a hobby, but finding each
other through traditional methods (such as sifting through census, marriage
or property records) would have been unlikely if not impossible.
And yet their DNA profiles match so closely that they can be certain of
sharing a common ancestor within the past six generations. It took
scientific sleuthing for the two men to make a connection.
The fact that they discovered each other at all speaks to the increasingly
sophisticated tools available to genealogy researchers. These tools are
being made available at a time when the hobby's popularity is expanding
around the world.
As a genealogical tool, DNA testing started coming into its own about seven
years ago, with more family researchers using it to confirm (or rule out)
the results of their traditional research.
To test one's DNA, a kit can be ordered online that includes a few forms
and a swab, which is scraped along the inside of the mouth to collect a
sample of cells. These are sent to a laboratory, which creates a DNA
profile that can be compared against others.
Such services are offered at sites such as
Ancestors, <http://www.familytreedna.com/Default.aspx?c=1>Family Tree DNA
and many others. Prices vary, but a test can be conducted for about US$100.
Shepherdson has been investigating his roots for about 15 years (see
http://www.shepherdson.com). As a result of his efforts, he's now linked
with a large group of previously unknown relatives scattered around
Southeast Asia, all descended from a pair of English brothers who served as
captains in the British East India Company in the late 1700s.
Though Shepherdson's traditional and online research led to the discovery
of these relatives, it was the DNA testing -- of himself and a few key
individuals -- that confirmed the clan's genetic ties about four years ago.
But DNA testing can also be used in another way, one less well known but
set to increase in frequency and significance.
With many of these DNA testing services, for little or no extra cost,
customers can have their DNA profile included in a searchable database that
other participants -- from around the world -- can match their own profiles
Shepherdson had to wait about four years, but in mid-August he was
contacted through a DNA database Internet site by Kurowski, who had
discovered the DNA match through his own search.
In such a case, the genetic verification comes first and traditional
research follows, which is the opposite order of Shepherdson's previous
Now the unlikely cousins will try to figure out how they are related, not
whether they truly are. It's a different sort of challenge.
"One of the captains may have laid the family seeds while trading in one of
the ports," Shepherdson speculated.
Discoveries like this are set to increase as more people around the world
pursue roots research and add their DNA profiles to such databases.
"As the genetic genealogical databases continue to grow in size we should
expect to see more and more matches on a local, regional and international
basis," noted Lars Mouritsen, chief scientific officer at Sorenson
Genomics, a DNA testing firm in the U.S. state of Utah.
Full article: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/TECH/11/09/dna.families/
|[EYRE] Genealogical DNA Testing by Judy Ardine <>|