Editor’s Corner

 

An Explosion of Y-STR Markers!

 


Among genetic genealogists, it has long been an article of faith that once we could have 100 Y-STR markers available commercially, we would then have the resolution we needed to really figure out relationships in our surname projects.  Well folks, it looks like we just arrived!

 

With the new 22-marker panel offered in March by Family Tree DNA (bringing just their own offerings up to 59 markers), as I count them, we now have available 102 markers!  To get close to that many, however, you have to go to at least three different companies.

 

DNA Fingerprint (DNAFP) led the way into the development of new markers during 2005, and they still have the most markers of any company, plus the most not offered by any other company.  Ethnoancestry followed in early 2006 with a new 18-marker panel that at the time represented markers not offered elsewhere.  Not to be outdone, the venerable Family Tree DNA, in March 2006 brought out their new 22-marker panel.  So far on the sidelines as far as new offerings are concerned, DNA Heritage and Relative Genetics, still offer their 43-marker set.

 

The question for anyone wanting to add to the number of markers they have tested is, “How should I go about testing new markers?”  Unfortunately, the answer is not so simple, unless you simply must have all 102 markers.  Then, the answer is simple, though rather expensive—just buy everything that each company offers.

 

The problem lies in the fact that the offerings of all the commercial labs are not mutually exclusive—there is quite a lot of overlap.  Figuring out how to get the most markers for your money is a challenge.

 

Let’s start with the 37 markers available from FTDNA (sorry, DNAH, RG, EA, and DNAFP—we have to give the largest company its due).  Once you have results on those 37, what next?  For some time DNAH has offered a 23-marker “pick your own markers” test.  If you ordered that option and included the 11 markers not tested by FTDNA, that would allow you to raise your total to 48, which was about the most you could get a year ago.  Now, there are more options, including getting 10 of those extra 11 markers from DNAFP.  However, at DNAFP, there is a one-time DNA extraction charge, so going with DNAFP makes the most sense if you plan to buy many more markers than 10.

 

Beyond the basic set of 48 markers, each of DNAFP, EA, and FTDNA offer a new set of markers.  At EA and FTDNA you must buy the whole set, while the markers can be ordered individually at DNAFP (though you get a small price break if you order whole panels of about 12 markers).  However, as pointed out earlier, there is some overlap among the offerings from these three companies.

 

In the new 22-marker panel from FTDNA, 13 markers are available nowhere else.  In the new 18-marker panel from EA, 12 are available nowhere else.  DNAFP has 22 markers available nowhere else.  If you’re serious about getting to 100 markers, you can’t leave out any of these three sets of new markers.  You’ll have to buy all of them in spite of their overlap.

 

How much overlap is there?  In the cases of the 22-marker set from FTDNA and the 18-marker set from EA, seven of the markers appear in both sets.  None of the EA set and only two of the new FTDNA set overlap with the offerings from DNA Fingerprint.

 

One fairly efficient way to get a large number of markers would be to test the FTDNA 59, and then add on the 30 markers from DNAFP that are not offered at FTDNA.  That would bring your total to 89 and would only involve two companies.  If you’ve already started with the 43 from DNAH or RG, you could order from DNAFP the 27 markers they offer that DNAH doesn’t (bringing your total up to 70) and then add  the 18-marker panel from EA, whose markers do not overlap at all the offerings of DNAH or DNAFP, for a grand total of 88.

 

Table 1 (below) shows the commercially available markers beyond the basic FTDNA-37.  Not shown is DYS425, offered by Oxford Ancestors, but this marker is available from DNAFP as a part of DYF371.  With all of the new offerings, surely Oxford Ancestors will soon be offering more than their original 10-marker test.

 

With 100 markers, what is the probability that a mutation will occur in each transmission of the whole set from one generation to the next?  Unfortunately, we do not know the mutation rates for many of these markers.  If we just assume that the average mutation rate for all 100 markers is about 0.002, then the probability of a mutation in one of the 100 markers is about 20% per transmission in the whole set.  That’s probably in the right ballpark.

 

But, if 100 markers gets us to 20% probability of a mutation per transmission, look what 250 would do for us—that’s a mutation every other transmission!  And, for that matter, why not 500???  Here we go again—probably we will never stop until we’ve spent the last of our retirement fund on DNA tests!

 

Whit Athey

Editor


 

 


 


 

Table 1  Y-STR Markers Available Commercially in Addition

to the FTDNA-37

 

DNA Fingerprint

(Markers in panels or individually)

Ethnoancestry

18-Marker Panel

FTDNA

22-Marker Panel

DNA Heritage, Relative Genetics

Markers Available at More Than One Company:

DYS441

 

 

DYS441

DYS444

 

DYS444

DYS444

DYS445

 

 

DYS445

DYS446

 

DYS446

DYS446

DYS452

 

 

DYS452

DYS461

 

 

DYS461

DYS462

 

 

DYS462

DYS463

 

 

DYS463

DYS635 (C4)

 

 

DYS635 (C4)

GATA-A10

 

 

GATA-A10

 

DYS481

DYS481

 

 

DYS490

DYS490

 

 

DYS531

DYS531

 

 

DYS578

DYS578

 

 

DYS594

DYS594

 

 

DYS641

DYS641

 

 

DYF406S1

DYF406S1

 

 

Markers Available at Only One Company:

22 Markers Unique to DNAFP

11 Markers Unique to Ethnoancestry

13 Markers

Unique to

FTDNA

1 Marker Unique to DNAH, RG

DYS413a

DYS487

DYS436

GGAAT-1B07

DYS413b

DYS494

DYS472

 

DYS434

DYS505

DYS492

 

DYS485

DYS522

DYS511

 

DYS495

DYS533

DYS520

 

DYS643

DYS549

DYS534

 

DYS725a

DYS556

DYS537

 

DYS725b

DYS575

DYS557

 

DYS725c

DYS589

DYS565

 

DYS725d

DYS636

DYS572

 

DYS726

DYS638

DYS590

 

DYF371a

 

DYF395S1

 

DYF371b

 

DYF395S2

 

DYF371c

 

 

 

DYF371d

 

 

 

DYF385S1a

 

 

 

DYF385S1b

 

 

 

DYF399S1a

 

 

 

DYF399S1b

 

 

 

DYF399S1c

 

 

 

DYF401S1a

 

 

 

DYF401S1b