Archiver > GENEALOGY-DNA > 2005-11 > 1131740655

From: David Faux <>
Subject: Re: [DNA] No Haplogroup at FTDNA (Problems in Molecular Biology)
Date: Fri, 11 Nov 2005 12:24:15 -0800 (PST)
In-Reply-To: <>


Ann, I ordered the SNP test in early August. Their predicted Haplogroup is
R1a. But this morning they tell me that two tries and no results . They are
trying again. It just seems odd to be so difficult. Margretta



This is not in the least odd. This is molecular biology. It is a very tricky business and SNP testing ranks more difficult than regular Y-STR testing. There is so much that can go wrong at every stage in the operation to the final results that it is amazing that it works as well as it does. Much of this is because of dedicated and knowledgeable technicians and geneticists who can troubleshoot a myriad of problems.

Three failures is not unusual. It could be that the PCR did not work (even if it had worked on previous occasions), there could have been a marker failure for an entire series that could necessitate redesigning and retesting everything since it is often not clear what is wrong. Sometimes it is so bad that you need to use an entirely different procedure and different equipment. The chromatograms are universally messy and so you forget about the sequencer and use a TaqMan protocol.

I am sure it bothers customers of both ourselves and FTDNA when they do not get their results in the expected timely manner - after all so and so got their results in a couple of weeks. Yes, but if you think it is frustrating being a customer try being a company that offers SNP testing at a time when things in the lab are simply not flowing smoothly for perhaps 4 separate reasons. Meanwhile customers start grumbling about the company when they should really be educated about the realities of molecular biology. When a certain company went out of the SNP subgroup testing business after two weeks I wondered how that could happen. I no longer wonder.

We have experienced the same problems as FTDNA. Can you imagine what it would be like for the lab technician to have tried three times and still no result. When do you give up and ask the customer for a second sample? The amount of time spent on a single sample may throw any profit out the window and you are in the loss category and getting deeper with each try.

People who want SNP testing are going to have to realize it is a bit of a lottery situation. Some win big with all results back in a few weeks. There will be a significant number who will be left with partial results or no results and that has nothing to do with the company but everything to do with the chemistry and technology of doing this kind of work. People who need instant gratification will have to learn to cool their heels and develop patience. There is no use in playing the "blame game" - both FTDNA and EA are working hard to meet the needs of customers but customers have to understand that they may have to wait longer than they would like or even seems reasonable. I know both FTDNA and EA are trying to put into place new systems and new equipment to make the process smoother - but molecular biology is not going to change. There will always be glitches and some rough edges.

David Faux.

Dr. David K.W. Faux
Ethnoancestry USA, Inc.

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