Red tailed mother carrying avocado branch © Robert Sommers 2023

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Human Jigsaw

I have always been interested in Genealogy. I went through an intensive phase in the early nineties where I was pouring over records at the national archives and bothering my family incessantly in order to fit pieces of the puzzle together. Got involved with Jewgen at the time and took most of the leads as far as I could.

On New Years Eve, my friends Tracy and Stanley gave me a gift. They scraped my inner cheek, three times to be exact, and sent the findings to the laboratories of the FamilyTree DNA website. These folks have the most comprehensive database in the world for individual dna testing. They work with Dr. Michael Hammer, a leading geneticist at the University of Arizona and his research labs.

Yesterday my initial results came back. I can feel the obsession returning.  I got the first twelve genetic markers codified. These markers reflect male paternal DNA. I await the results of my mitochondrial maternal DNA as well as more involved Y-DNA testing.


(If anyone wants to play my allele numbers in the lottery, I demand half of the booty.)

This allowed me to search for initial matches. Now most people have hundreds if not thousands of matches for their first 12 loci. Not I.  I found one, possibly two. The known match, a Doctor from Seattle, had consented to make his information accessible to me, and I emailed him. We both come from the same general area near Warsaw. We have a 33% chance of a common ancestor in 4 generations and a 55% chance in 8. I emailed him a picture and we briefly discussed family history. I have a sneaking suspicion that our grandfathers were brothers and that they were both conscripted into the Russian army at the same time. I need to find my genealogy papers.  He had doubts about his actual last name and so do I.

I uploaded my findings to Ysearch and found another possible match, an attorney whose family comes from the same area. I have not contacted him as of yet.

I also tried to download my haplotree, but it came back unknown, which is highly unusual, I think. The human genome, which all traces back to the same adam in africa, has at least 26 distinct haplogroups with a number of smaller divisions called sub clades. Haplogroups are like branches on a family tree. Lineage is identified by both known genetic mutations and genetic drift.

The three of us potential relatives are a subgroup of a clan that is loosely called E1B1B1*. Today they have sent me some additional confirmation and a tree that suggests an E M-35 designation. This is known as the "ancestral state" of the haplo, a sort of factory model free of subsequent mutations. Old school, if you will. This haplotype is shared with a significant percentage of Moroccan Berbers, Andalusians, Sardinians and Italians, according to Levy - Coffman. I may have to send additional money to now do what is called deep clade testing to see if my sub clade can be positively identified.

I have looked at the trees of the other individuals and they are still labeled as unknown haplogroup subjects. Perhaps they have not had the deep clade testing, but I see that one has been tested out to the 67th marker. My results are being checked to the 37th marker.

The upshot is that I am off on a new treasure hunt. The thought of having a unique DNA profile is seductive, and would certainly explain the unusual precognitive and shapeshifting abilities. The family lore of sephardic heritage has been pretty firmly debunked, the Eb3 being mostly ashkenazic folk who started off in the horn of Africa about 22,000 years ago.  I can see a benefit to future generations by identifying genetic anomalies and traits through this type of study.

According to Wikipedia:

E1b1b (E-M215) and its dominant sub-clade E1b1b1 (E-M35) are believed to have first appeared in East Africa about 22,400 years ago. The ancient dispersals of the major E1b1b1 (E-M35) lineages. The map shows the earliest movements of E1b1b lineages as described in the most recent articles.

All major sub-branches of E1b1b1 are thought to have originated in the same general area as the parent clade: in North Africa, East Africa, or nearby areas of the Near East. Underhill (2002) believes that the structure and regional pattern of E-M35 sub-clades potentially give "reagents with which to infer specific episodes of population histories associated with the Neolithic agricultural expansion". Concerning European E-M35 within this scheme, Underhill and Kivisild (2007) have remarked that E1b1b seems to represent a late-Pleistocene migration from North Africa to Europe over the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.

Concerning E1b1b, Coffman-Levy (2005) wrote that although E1b1b "arose in East Africa, approximately 25000 years ago, certain sub-clades appear to have been present in Europe and Asia for thousands of years" and so it is "often incorrectly described as 'African'" in a sense that creates a "misimpression regarding the origin and complex history of this haplogroup."

A large majority of E1b1b lineages are within E1b1b1 (defined by M35). Exceptions discovered so far are M215 positive/M35 negative ("E-M215*") cases found in two Amharic Ethiopians and 1 Yemeni.

The E-M215 derivative, E1b1b1 (E-M35) is defined by the M35 SNP. E-M35 includes individuals with the "ancestral state" (no known sub-clade forming mutations). These are referred to as E1b1b1* or E-M35*. As of 2009, there are seven known branches that have resulted from different mutations on M35: M78, M81, M123, M281, V6, P72, and M293. In order to show what is known of their relationships to E1b1b1 and other related clades, these are also currently referred to as E1b1b1a to E1b1b1g, respectively (see image). The more frequently described sub-clades are E1b1b1a and E1b1b1b. Both are found in Mediterranean & West Asian peoples. These two sub-clades represent the largest proportion of E1b1b. E1b1b1a is found over most of the range where E1b1b is found excluding Southern Africa. E1b1b1b is found mainly in the Maghreb. E1b1b1c is less common but widely scattered, with significant populations in specific parts of the Horn of Africa, the Levant, Arabia, Iberia, and Anatolia. E1b1b1g is a fourth major sub-clade that has been found in parts of Eastern and Southern Africa, includes the majority of unique E1b1b1 lineages in sub-Saharan Africa (those that lack M78, M81, or M123 mutations).[8] Two smaller sub-clades are defined by mutations M281 and V6 appear to be unique to the Horn of Africa region.

So here I stand, a lonely african without rhythm. You can actually track the migration patterns of the different haplogroups. The amount of new discoveries in the realm of human genetics is truly remarkable.

I will continue to post new information as I learn about it and will correct any of my misconceptions. I can see that I am about to plunge into a major study of genetics.

My biggest question at this point is how unusual is it to be part of an unknown subset? Why are there so few of my line extant? Was Hitler so successful that he managed to wipe out the whole sub group except for so very few survivors? Did overweight, near sighted yids with atrial fibrillation have much chance out on the veldt?

If anyone is interested in this new technology, I encourage you to check out Family Tree DNA. The initial testing will set you back less than $200.00. Women will not be able to chart Y-DNA and will have to tackle the mitochondrial DNA or get male siblings scraped. Happy hunting!

Interesting article on Jews and DNA by Ellen Levy Coffman.

Levites and Cohens. - Khazaria

Phylogeographic Analysis of Haplogroup E3b (E-M215) Y Chromosomes Reveals Multiple Migratory Events Within and Out Of Africa - Cruciani

Exact Matches
CountryYour MatchesCommentMatch TotalCountry TotalPercentage
England1-119,968< 0.1%
Poland1Ashkenazi13,021< 0.1%

Ancestral Markers

The Y-DNA contains two main types of ancestral markers:

   1. SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphisms). SNPs are a change in a single nucleotide in a chromosome and occur infrequently; once they occur they are stable and typically define a whole chromosome and become its signature.
   2. STRs (short tandem repeats, aka microsatellites) (see Figure 2). STRs change by the number of repeats and change at a much faster rate than SNPs.

By testing the combination of SNPs and STRs in our Y-DNA, we can gain information on our paternal ancestry, ranging from ancient history (thousands and tens of thousands of years ago) with the much slower mutating SNPs, to recent history (100-1000 years ago) with faster mutating STRs.  More simply, SNPs allow us to track ancient or deep ancestry, while STRs allow us to track recent ancestry in the range of immediate family history over several generations and the relatively modern use of surnames.


Anonymous said...

gives a new meaning to living in the past, taking it to a whole other level; interesting.

Anonymous said...

I had my Y-chromosome DNA tested for ancestry also. Although I am a member of the exact same "E1b1b1*" group, my marker numbers are not the same. Four of the first twelve markers came out differently.

Out of more than 180,000 people in the database, five people match my first 12 marker values (14-25-13-9-17-18-11-12-12-14-11-32). Sounds great, no? The only catch is that each of these people have only a 50% chance of being related to me within eight generations, and I've been able to trace my paternal ancestry back only five generations. And none of these matches trace their paternal line back geographically through Lithuania (Vilnius or Vilijampole) as I do. Their ancestors came from entirely different locations.

Extending to 25 markers, there were no exact matches for me. The only person differing from me in only one marker was adopted and doesn't know the name of his birth father. Eleven people differ from me in two markers, and for them the chances of a common ancestor don't reach 50% until we go back 13(!) generations. How many readers have been able to trace their paternal ancestry that far back? I'd be surprised to find anybody that lucky.

So the Y-chromosome analysis hasn't really been of much use in my family tree research. I'm less than fully satisfied with the published papers, since nobody seems to be able to answer simple questions about which marker values (or sets of values) are associated with specific haplogroups, subclades and mutations.