In my opinion, it's time for another major advance in marker testing levels! We're overdue - not only being able to test more markers - but in being able to uniformly order them and then to compare them
My experience started back in 2001, when FTDNA was testing 12 markers and we started our Barton study with BYU's Center for Molecular Genealogy (CMG). Initially, we were told that we'd probably be tested an at least 15 markers. It took us nearly a year to get our results for 52 men (done in batch style) and we were delighted to have results on 23 markers - a huge advance. Within a year, those same men were retested to 26 markers and we had 42 more men, who were a part of our second batch. Barton was one of the very largest projects - with more than 90 men - all tested to 26 markers.
But, no one wants to stand still - and we needed more markers to try to subdivide our very large genetic family we called "Barton Lineage I". By now (early 2004), BYU's CMG had become Relative Genetics (RG) and we were asking for "more markers". As they weren't responding, we made a deal with FTDNA to test a number of our men with FTDNA's newly released 37-marker test. Merging the results gave us 42 markers - and the beginning of a long history of merging test results from multiple companies. We found a marker that divided our Lineage I into 2 parts and were pleased with the progress - but still not satisfied. Then, RG released their 43-marker test - and we upgraded our men again - yielding 48 markers (but little branching insight). We were now "halfway" to what I perceived to be the ultimate - "100" markers.
When I presented our work on the Barton DNA Project in 2005 at FTDNA's Second International Conference in Washington DC, I had the audience laughing by the time I made my third request for "More Markers". And sure enough, FTDNA came out with 67 markers in March of 2006. We got some useful value from the additional markers - but still needed - and wanted - more.
Well - it was a very short time before we were ordering the 31 additional markers that Thomas Krahn was offering from DNA-Fingerprint. Before we even received all of our results, Thomas had joined forces with FTDNA and had relocated to Houston. Adding up everything from the 3 testing companies gave us a little over 100 markers. Guess what - it still isn't enough to help us subdivide our giant Barton Lineage I into branches - a group which now includes more than 80 men - from nearly 40 distinct families (each with a different earliest known ancestor) that don't have connecting paper trails. And - these results were buried in the backrooms - where they weren't (and aren't) avaialble for easy comparison.
It's been 3 years with only modest advances (but - still - thanks goes to EthnoAncestry for pushing on the industry). Those of us who primarily test at FTDNA (far and away the industry leader) where something over 90% of the major projects operate - are still stuck with easily ordering and comparing only 67 markers - despite the fact that FTDNA will sell you testing on more than 120 markers.
It's time for a break-out! Here are my wishes:
1. Offer for sale and report a panel of about 30 markers - probably based on the ones originally offered by DNA-Fingerprint. That would give us "97" markers. (I don't care about the exact number) They should be a "standard" panel, offered for sale in the "standard" section and reported along with the first 67 (even if it has to be a second section of generated results). By presenting them as "Standard", they would become "standard" and then come into regular use. Being able to generate a report, which lists them for direct comparison, would give us a way of actually making beneficial use of them.
2. Offer for sale and report another panel of about 30 more markers - based on everything else (which includes the ones primarily tested at EthnoAncestry and Sorenson) plus whatever else FTDNA has come up with. This would take us to ""127". Again - these should be a "standard" panel, offered for sale in the "standard" section and reported along with the first 67 (probably in that second section of generated results)
3. Develop and offer another panel of 30-60 markers - ideally fast acting. These would probably belong in the "Advanced" section. They should be "fast acting" - and intended for use only within a genetic family - as mutations should be so common that they would wreak havoc with a traditional comparison of counting matches.
It's time for a "Break-out". It's time for better management of the markers we can already order and time for some that will help us break apart our genetic families.