Question about mtDNA
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07-05-2016, 12:26 PM
Question about mtDNA
Alrighty you guys, I gots a question about having my mtDNA tested which, as I understand it, will follow the female DNA though my mother.

A little background. My mother was an orphan with no documentation, and I'm talkin' NO documentation.

So I'm wanting to have my mtDNA tested to find out about my mothers family. What I've been told is that this will only give me information dating from about 5000 years backward and won't give me any immediate family information. Is this true?

Someone told me to do regular DNA testing which is autosomal (do I have that right?) and if I understand it correctly, this will give me both parents ancestry?

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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07-05-2016, 03:16 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
Sort of.

Without something to compare it to it's very unlikely that you'll be able to trace your family to more than a general cultural level. You'll have your mtDNA but nothing to match it against except cultural databases. Same goes for your chromosomal DNA (autosomal refers to your 22 chromosomes that don't code for your sex, the X and Y chromosomes are the only ones that aren't autosomal). Even with a compete sequence you need something to compare it to. It's sort of like having fingerprints at the crime scene but no match in the database.

However, not all is lost.

- You might have some odd and rare genetic trait that is only shared by a very small subset of the population. Unlikely, but if you do it significantly narrows the search.

- At some point in the not too distant future having your entire genome sequenced might become much more common and you'd have a much easier time tracking immediate family down then. Less helpful now, though you might get lucky and run into a relative who has had their DNA sequenced for some reason or other.

- Being able to track even your general cultural group will be better than nothing. It'll give you some idea of where you might want to continue looking for clues to your ancestry.

---
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07-05-2016, 03:25 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
(07-05-2016 03:16 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  Sort of.

Without something to compare it to it's very unlikely that you'll be able to trace your family to more than a general cultural level. You'll have your mtDNA but nothing to match it against except cultural databases. Same goes for your chromosomal DNA (autosomal refers to your 22 chromosomes that don't code for your sex, the X and Y chromosomes are the only ones that aren't autosomal). Even with a compete sequence you need something to compare it to. It's sort of like having fingerprints at the crime scene but no match in the database.

However, not all is lost.

- You might have some odd and rare genetic trait that is only shared by a very small subset of the population. Unlikely, but if you do it significantly narrows the search.

- At some point in the not too distant future having your entire genome sequenced might become much more common and you'd have a much easier time tracking immediate family down then. Less helpful now, though you might get lucky and run into a relative who has had their DNA sequenced for some reason or other.

- Being able to track even your general cultural group will be better than nothing. It'll give you some idea of where you might want to continue looking for clues to your ancestry.

Thanks. I have no idea where my mother was from and she didn't either. If I could get just a general idea it would be great.

From what I've learned many people have found relatives through DNA testing from ancestry dot com and other online ancestry organizations because so many people have had their dna done these days that now there's a larger and larger network of DNA to match up with. I'm hoping it works.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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[+] 1 user Likes dancefortwo's post
07-05-2016, 05:52 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
A full sequence will likely be more useful than just an mtDNA sequence then. More costly too of course. mtDNA is the relatively short sequence of DNA that is found in your mitochondria. That's why it traces back down the maternal line. Sperm have no mitochondria so all your mitochondria, and thus your mtDNA, are inheritted from mom.

Unfortunately, mtDNA is a little less than 17,000 base pairs long and codes for a mere 37 genes. To make matters worse all of those genes regulate metabolism so mutations are more frequently harmful than not and strongly selected against. So you'll have the same mtDNA as your mother and a whole lot of other people that you're only very distantly related to.

What you can expect to get from it is that you have a bunch of genetic markers in your mtDNA that are only found in the natives of Lower Slobovia. That tells you that your mother had Lower Slobovian ancestry, not that she was necessarily from there or ever lived there.

If you're the typical white anglo-saxon mut then this can be very misleading since it tracks just one of your many ancestral lines. For example, mine would likely suggest that I'm Welsh, which is almost dead wrong. My maternal line just happens to track back through Wales while the bulk of my ancestors are from almost every point in Europe.

A full sequence of your chromosomal DNA doesn't suffer these limitations but it won't just trace your mother's lineage. It's also a bit expensive.

There might be a few things that you could do to improve your chances:

- Is your mother still alive? If not, do you have anything of hers that might have genetic material? A hairbrush or toothbrush would be useful if the DNA was still viable.

- Is your father still alive or can you get his genetic material? Subtracting his sequence from yours leaves you with your mother's contribution and can be done on a chromosome by chromosome basis.

- Do you have siblings? They'll have inheritted a different portion of your mother's DNA. You can build a more complete picture of her DNA this way, though the returns are diminishing.

Of course all of this is getting fairly pricey. There might be other avenues that would be less costly and more productive. You say that she had absolutely no documentation but everybody leaves a trail of some sort, albeit a very tenuous one. What's the earliest record you have of her and did she have anything at all with her?

---
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08-05-2016, 01:19 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
(07-05-2016 05:52 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  A full sequence will likely be more useful than just an mtDNA sequence then. More costly too of course. mtDNA is the relatively short sequence of DNA that is found in your mitochondria. That's why it traces back down the maternal line. Sperm have no mitochondria so all your mitochondria, and thus your mtDNA, are inheritted from mom.

Unfortunately, mtDNA is a little less than 17,000 base pairs long and codes for a mere 37 genes. To make matters worse all of those genes regulate metabolism so mutations are more frequently harmful than not and strongly selected against. So you'll have the same mtDNA as your mother and a whole lot of other people that you're only very distantly related to.

What you can expect to get from it is that you have a bunch of genetic markers in your mtDNA that are only found in the natives of Lower Slobovia. That tells you that your mother had Lower Slobovian ancestry, not that she was necessarily from there or ever lived there.

If you're the typical white anglo-saxon mut then this can be very misleading since it tracks just one of your many ancestral lines. For example, mine would likely suggest that I'm Welsh, which is almost dead wrong. My maternal line just happens to track back through Wales while the bulk of my ancestors are from almost every point in Europe.

A full sequence of your chromosomal DNA doesn't suffer these limitations but it won't just trace your mother's lineage. It's also a bit expensive.

There might be a few things that you could do to improve your chances:

- Is your mother still alive? If not, do you have anything of hers that might have genetic material? A hairbrush or toothbrush would be useful if the DNA was still viable.

- Is your father still alive or can you get his genetic material? Subtracting his sequence from yours leaves you with your mother's contribution and can be done on a chromosome by chromosome basis.

- Do you have siblings? They'll have inheritted a different portion of your mother's DNA. You can build a more complete picture of her DNA this way, though the returns are diminishing.

Of course all of this is getting fairly pricey. There might be other avenues that would be less costly and more productive. You say that she had absolutely no documentation but everybody leaves a trail of some sort, albeit a very tenuous one. What's the earliest record you have of her and did she have anything at all with her?

Both my parents are dead. My mother was perhaps Canadian and was handed over to her stepfather when she was about four. She has a vague memory of her real mother but there was no paperwork involved in the "adoption". He later created a fake birth certificate for her. He was known to forge documents when necessary.

Anyway, you mentioned a hair brush. I don't have that but I do have (don't laugh at this) a have eaten Lifesavor that she had in her mouth. For some odd reason I kept it but it's over a decade old. I wonder if this would work. It's gotta be super expensive to have it tested though. Do you know how much it might cost to test this Lifesavor?

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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08-05-2016, 02:15 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
(08-05-2016 01:19 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  Both my parents are dead. My mother was perhaps Canadian and was handed over to her stepfather when she was about four. She has a vague memory of her real mother but there was no paperwork involved in the "adoption". He later created a fake birth certificate for her. He was known to forge documents when necessary.

Anyway, you mentioned a hair brush. I don't have that but I do have (don't laugh at this) a have eaten Lifesavor that she had in her mouth. For some odd reason I kept it but it's over a decade old. I wonder if this would work. It's gotta be super expensive to have it tested though. Do you know how much it might cost to test this Lifesavor?

No laughing here. My mom's a packrat. That life saver might actually come in handy though. It should have picked up a load of epithelial cells but I have no idea how viable the genetic material might be. The sugar might have preserved it or it might have destroyed it.

No idea on the cost either. You might be able to get an idea from somebody who works in forensics or genetics. 23andMe charges ~$200 but uses fresh saliva samples. You might be able to get some info from them. The actual extraction from the life saver shouldn't be too difficult. It's a matter of viability and whether they'd be willing to do the extra steps.

Canadian is almost as bad as American. We're a hodge-podge mix of immigrants from every part of Europe along with a healthy dollop of native american, african american and asian. Any idea which part of Canada? I don't suppose her birth tongue was anything other than English?

The informal and paperless nature of her adoption is interesting. Did her step-father have a wife at the time or was it just him? His motivations raise some interesting possibilities. With this sort of adoption it's always possible that the birth parents were complete strangers to him but I'd be inclined to suspect that they might have been somebody he knew. Possibly somebody whose child he was raising as a personal favour. Childbirth out of wedlock back then would have been a very different matter in society but abortion was taboo so he may have been helping to cover up somebody's naughty secret.

If you can trace back any of his friends or relations look for matches between your mom's first and middle names and their first names. First names often get handed down like used clothing. She might be carrying great-grandma Mathilda's name about though so you may have to look back a few generations before her birth. Also look for anybody who suddenly moved, married, divorced or died about the time your mom was born. It wouldn't be uncommon to have to move to escape the rumours. Also the birth mother may not have survived childbirth.

Just a half-baked notion but it might be worth a shot if you can track any of his friends or relatives information down. Good luck with the detectoring!

---
Flesh and blood of a dead star, slain in the apocalypse of supernova, resurrected by four billion years of continuous autocatalytic reaction and crowned with the emergent property of sentience in the dream that the universe might one day understand itself.
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08-05-2016, 02:18 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
I had my genome test on : https://www.23andme.com and found many ( hundreds of) relatives. It is expensive but was worth it for me. I think that it would not be very helpful to just do the mtDNA- it would not find direct relatives. You would do a swab test on the inside of your cheek, and mail it to them. It does not hurt at all, just a soft cotton swab. Even if you do not find direct relatives, you will find a lot out about your ancestry, which may be interesting.

The biology of mind bridges the sciences - concerned with the natural world - and the humanities - concerned with the meaning of human experience. Eric Kandel
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08-05-2016, 02:34 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
(08-05-2016 02:18 PM)carol Wrote:  I had my genome test on : https://www.23andme.com and found many ( hundreds of) relatives. It is expensive but was worth it for me. I think that it would not be very helpful to just do the mtDNA- it would not find direct relatives. You would do a swab test on the inside of your cheek, and mail it to them. It does not hurt at all, just a soft cotton swab. Even if you do not find direct relatives, you will find a lot out about your ancestry, which may be interesting.

Hummm. How did you actually find them, Carol? Did you place your results in some database somewhere to find a match? From what I understand the web site, ancestry dot com only uses their own dna testing for their own database they have on the site. I don't know if I can take the results and place it in other databases. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
Find all posts by this user
Like Post Quote this message in a reply
08-05-2016, 02:55 PM
RE: Question about mtDNA
(08-05-2016 02:15 PM)Paleophyte Wrote:  
(08-05-2016 01:19 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  Both my parents are dead. My mother was perhaps Canadian and was handed over to her stepfather when she was about four. She has a vague memory of her real mother but there was no paperwork involved in the "adoption". He later created a fake birth certificate for her. He was known to forge documents when necessary.

Anyway, you mentioned a hair brush. I don't have that but I do have (don't laugh at this) a have eaten Lifesavor that she had in her mouth. For some odd reason I kept it but it's over a decade old. I wonder if this would work. It's gotta be super expensive to have it tested though. Do you know how much it might cost to test this Lifesavor?

No laughing here. My mom's a packrat. That life saver might actually come in handy though. It should have picked up a load of epithelial cells but I have no idea how viable the genetic material might be. The sugar might have preserved it or it might have destroyed it.

No idea on the cost either. You might be able to get an idea from somebody who works in forensics or genetics. 23andMe charges ~$200 but uses fresh saliva samples. You might be able to get some info from them. The actual extraction from the life saver shouldn't be too difficult. It's a matter of viability and whether they'd be willing to do the extra steps.

Canadian is almost as bad as American. We're a hodge-podge mix of immigrants from every part of Europe along with a healthy dollop of native american, african american and asian. Any idea which part of Canada? I don't suppose her birth tongue was anything other than English?

The informal and paperless nature of her adoption is interesting. Did her step-father have a wife at the time or was it just him? His motivations raise some interesting possibilities. With this sort of adoption it's always possible that the birth parents were complete strangers to him but I'd be inclined to suspect that they might have been somebody he knew. Possibly somebody whose child he was raising as a personal favour. Childbirth out of wedlock back then would have been a very different matter in society but abortion was taboo so he may have been helping to cover up somebody's naughty secret.

If you can trace back any of his friends or relations look for matches between your mom's first and middle names and their first names. First names often get handed down like used clothing. She might be carrying great-grandma Mathilda's name about though so you may have to look back a few generations before her birth. Also look for anybody who suddenly moved, married, divorced or died about the time your mom was born. It wouldn't be uncommon to have to move to escape the rumours. Also the birth mother may not have survived childbirth.

Just a half-baked notion but it might be worth a shot if you can track any of his friends or relatives information down. Good luck with the detectoring!

My step-grandfather was a railroad engineer and traveled all over the place between Canada and the USA. He even worked in Panama on a railroad there. Somewhere in his travels he picked up my mother. He would have been about 55 years old when he took my mother in and was widowed at the time. He would leave her with underpaid housekeepers in his home in Canada while he traveled on the railroad for months. The housekeepers would skip town and leave her all alone. She came close to starving sometimes until her stepfather would return to find her alone and in horrible health. He did later remarried but this woman is also dead. When my mom was 19 her stepfather died in a Burlesque theatre, drinking whisky and watching naked women. Laugh out load Thumbsup

No one is alive that would have known anything about my mother's early life so DNA is my only option. It's a mystery I've always wanted to solve. I'd like to at least know just a little bit about my mothers background.

Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.... on Donald J. Trump:

He is deformed, crooked, old, and sere,
Ill-fac’d, worse bodied, shapeless every where;
Vicious, ungentle, foolish, blunt, unkind,
Stigmatical in making, worse in mind.
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08-05-2016, 03:09 PM (This post was last modified: 08-05-2016 03:14 PM by carol.)
RE: Question about mtDNA
(08-05-2016 02:34 PM)dancefortwo Wrote:  
(08-05-2016 02:18 PM)carol Wrote:  I had my genome test on https://www.23andme.com and found many ( hundreds of) relatives. It is expensive but was worth it for me. I think that it would not be very helpful to just do the mtDNA- it would not find direct relatives. You would do a swab test on the inside of your cheek, and mail it to them. It does not hurt at all, just a soft cotton swab. Even if you do not find direct relatives, you will find a lot out about your ancestry, which may be interesting.

Hummm. How did you actually find them, Carol? Did you place your results in some database somewhere to find a match? From what I understand the web site, ancestry dot com only uses their own dna testing for their own database they have on the site. I don't know if I can take the results and place it in other databases. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.
The "23 and me" site finds them and lists them for you as part of it's service to you. That is why I picked it- you can decide if/when you would like contact and the amount of contact you would like. You will get a list of people related to you, many just have a distant relationship to you, but for me some were much closer- second cousins. then both you and the other person decide to communicate or not to- you can decide to only share genomes, or decide to write personal information to each other-
I do not know how ancestry.com works, it may be as useful, I have no idea.


It may be that all you find are distant relatives, but you also may find some closer ones. It really has been fun, although I did it years ago I still go on the site every month or so, and I am still getting contacted by relatives. It was also very interesting to find the distant maternal haplogroup- which also comes along with the test, V8 for me- (how cool, to be an ice maiden) - most likely from the Finnish Sammi people from what I have read .
I wish you luck on the search for your mother's ancestry. I found some surprises on the site- and it was interesting how my family myth ( what I was told my background was) was replaced by genetic realities for me . . . it has been kinda fun.

The biology of mind bridges the sciences - concerned with the natural world - and the humanities - concerned with the meaning of human experience. Eric Kandel
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