Tag Archives: ancestry

Friday SNPpets

This week’s SNPpets include the highly topical human migration issues–those that weren’t prohibited by the White House, at least. Speaking of charged issues–the NAS releases the CRISPR-human editing report next week. Also this week–human food crop resources and papers. Quinoa! But one that’s truly key for science is the coffee genome, of course. I’ll bet a disproportionate amount of science world-wide relies on caffeinated grad students. Also: sequencing Filbert. Not the nut. I love crowd-funded genome projects. And I added a nice graphic of clinical mutations that could be useful in public outreach situations. I’m getting more and more interested in doing that.

SNPpets_2Welcome to our Friday feature link collection: SNPpets. During the week we come across a lot of links and reads that we think are interesting, but don’t make it to a blog post. Here they are for your enjoyment…


Friday SNPpets

This week’s SNPpets explore the past and the future. There’s the effect of climate on human population movements. And a correction to another ancestry paper. We have retro bioinformatics hardware. The creator of the ribbon protein diagrams appears. Top stories from last year, and from this year (so far). And Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Anne Wojcicki on a “future without disease” (oh, please–but that was the headline writer’s fault, the interview isn’t that pollyanna-ish). There’s also the future of genetic discrimination and GINA. And future disease outbreak tools. Have a look.

SNPpets_2Welcome to our Friday feature link collection: SNPpets. During the week we come across a lot of links and reads that we think are interesting, but don’t make it to a blog post. Here they are for your enjoyment…


23andMe Scan: what I plan to find out

So, 23andMe has received our spit. The machines are churning away as we speak. I expect that sometime over the next few weeks to get some results for myself, my husband and our two daughters. What do I expect to find? Well, let’s look at two trees representing my history. The first is a pedigree following heart disease on my paternal side (there has not been any reported on my maternal side).  Here is a pedigree I whipped up using Madeline 2.0′s web service (I say whipped up, because I didn’t use all the features, just for illustration purposes, a tutorial here :). Of course this will be nothing like that done in the research I posted about a while back. I don’t have a team of doctors, nor a lot of time:

I’m the red square, 109. The black squares are those that have been diagnosed with heart disease. All also were diagnosed with hypertension before that. Patient 101 died of cancer… after having four heart attacks from her mid 40′s on. Patient 106 died of a heart attack at age 55. Patient 102 has had a couple heart attacks as has patient 104. I was diagnosed with hypertension at the age of 18 (at which time I was 140lbs, 6′ tall, non-drinker, non-smoker, physically active). In this pedigree, none are obese. Though my paternal side can tend to burly, they are for the most part within healthy ranges. Patient 103 and 101 especially have been lifelong healthy weights. I myself have been nearly technically obese, but lost the weight.

I think from this I’ll be able to tell, quite clearly, that I will have a high propensity towards heart disease and heart attack. What do I need to do to ward that off? Eat less food, mostly plants, exercise, don’t smoke. Pretty much the advice everyone should take I assume. That I have had hypertension since 18 doesn’t bode well for good news from my maternal side (where heart disease and heart attacks are unknown).

I looked at the list of disease risks, and from what I know of my family health history, I don’t expect many surprises.

Daughter 1′s Pedigree? Here it is:
Her biological grandfather might have had a heart attack. Nothing else known.
Daughter 2′s Pedigree? Her maternal side has obesity. Nothing else known.

There I expect to find something useful!

Now, let’s look at my ethnic background. I come from, on my maternal side, a long line of very proud Virginians, FFV in fact (with the expected boasts of 2 presidents, 2 signers, and several governors). As such, my genealogy is documented on my maternal side back over 500 years in many cases. My paternal side? Anglo-German-Native. It was not well documented, but after I became a Mormon* at the age of 18, I documented a lot of it, some lineages back 200-300 years. Here is an Ancestry.com view (name redacted and just known-ancestry listed):

My paternal grandfather? He had two grandparents born in Germany with German surnames, German ancestors, two grandparents of English ancestry, surnames and ancestors. My paternal grandmother? Three of her grandparents were of Native American ancestry (Mattaponi to be exact). I’ll put a caveat there. Though her maternal side is well-documented Mattaponi, there are questions about further back (her grandfather was said to be of African descent, and it appears to be some early Anglo-Scottish mixing). These caveats are not without basis. The native American tribes of Virginia were well-known to have inter-married and mixed with both the African-American and Anglo-American populations. Nonetheless, you just have to look at photos (and birth certificates :) of my great grandmother to know she was a Mattaponi.

Maternal side? Well, Anglo-Scottish back hundreds of years.

What do I expect to find with my 23andMe data? Perhaps some questions answered (is the Lathe surname and ancestry from the Danelaw and Viking settlements of old as stories would have us believe), but for the most part I don’t expect anything new or surprising.

Daughter 1′s biological genealogy (her cultural genealogy is a mix of mine, my husbands and her biological):
African, possibly from the regions of what is now Nigeria and Angola (from some research I did a while back). Her biological grandmother was reported to be “Creole”.

Daughter 2′s biological genealogy: Maternal side, European. Paternal side, completely unknown, possibly African, Indian subcontinent, Middle Eastern?

From our scans we expect to find some more detail of where daughter 1′s ancestry ultimately came from, perhaps clarify ‘creole’. For daughter 2, everything we learn will be news to us.

Looking forward to getting the results. My next post will be about adoption and genomic privacy. Even now I am learning some new things I hadn’t thought of before.

*no longer of that religion :)

A closer look at consumer ancestral DNA tests

At the ASHG conference (which my colleagues had the pleasure of attending), there was a call for the many companies that now do ancestral DNA tests to take a closer look at the implications of such tests (behind a free subscription wall). There are many implications of this growing consumer product, health, accuracy and education being among them. And ASHG has created a set of recommendations for the purveyors (and consumers and educators) of these tests.

As the white father (with a Native American grandmother) of an adopted African-American daughter with a husband of Spanish-Mexican ancestry, it is one implication that struck me as particularly appropriate:

For some groups (some Native American tribes, for example), a major concern about scientific
efforts to explain origins is the apparent diminished regard for important cultural, religious,
social, historical and political processes that also inform group origin, membership, and identity,
and access to group rights.

This concern can be brought down to the level of individual families. We, as a family, celebrate our diverse heritage and  accept and honor each of our individual heritages as those that inform our entire family’s culture and heritage. That culture and heritage is informed by our genetics (and thus my own interest in these tests and genealogy), but also by our cultural, religious, social and historical foundatins. As someone deeply interested in geneology, history and genomics, and as an adoptive father, I understand that our ‘genetic’ origins, though important, are only a  part of the cultural, historical, religious and social foundations of what it is that makes up a family, much less a broader culture. Taking into account only genetic origins (especially given the accuracy, lack of breadth and preciseness of today’s tests) when speaking of our heritage and origins can be a mind field that needs to be addressed with education, thought and foresight. There is more to our heritage and origins than can be found in a genome test.

I’m glad ASHG is starting the dialog. (you can download the ASHG Ancestral DNA tests recommedations here)