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James Ogg
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« on: September 27, 2007, 11:52:02 AM »

I wanted to raise an issue about standardization of DNA test results. 

Over the last few months, I believe it has become more challenging to match family lineage because the testing services have been changing their interpretation of the results.

Each of the testing services and reporting sites seem to be following their own decision process as to which standard they are going to use.   Now that Ancestry-DNA has joined the fray there is another entity using slightly different standards.

Two months ago I had three different lineages tested by different services that matched my DNA very closely (40 out of 42 Markers).  I know these families to have common ancestors.  Today the test results for these families show much reduced similarity because the services have changed there reporting methodology.  Importing into ySearch or Ancestry-DNA simply compounds the problem.

Why do I bring this point to this forum?   Because the majority of people using DNA to find out about their lineage will look at the results that are posted and will not see the reporting discrepancies.  They will simply see the results and assume there are no good matches and forget about their test data and find something else to do with their time.  As happens with many posting sites such as Rootsweb or Genealogy or Ancestry, an individual will change his email address and we will be unable to contact them when the data is fixed and shows there are good family matches. 

I think this issue will certainly cause many people to question the validity of DNA testing as well as simply be frustrated and stop their DNA investigations - a sad result!

We all need to tell the management of these testing/reporting services that they must use common standards!

All feedback is welcomed......

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Terry Barton
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« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2007, 01:46:10 PM »

I share your concern and have already expressed my thoughts to Relative Genetics - who has "sold out" to Ancestry.com

We support a lot of projects, who all are using the FTDNA approach, which is the NIST standard - except for the dispute over Y-GATA-H4

As I pieced it together a couple of months ago, Ancestry.com was claiming to be adopting standards of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).  But - as I dug into it, it seemed that Ancestry.com was actually adopting the standards of the International Society of Forensic Genetics (ISFG).  NIST had NOT adopted the ISFG standards the last I heard - but it appeared that Ancestry.com was thinking/hoping they would. 

As Ancestry.com didn't have a testing branch before this latest initiative and have only recently bought Relative Genetics, who had previously been following the standards that NIST had actually adopted, the problem is being created (as I perceive it) by Ancestry.com 

At this point, FTDNA is testing about 90-95% of all of the folks using dna testing for genealogy, using labs at the University of Arizona, and the Sorenson lab has been testing for Relative Genetics and DNA Heritage, who have been doing most of the rest of the genealogy testing.  (In addition to the genealogy testing work that Sorenson has been doing for RG & DNAH, they also do a lot of testing for research projects funded by Sorenson, as well as paternity and forensics testing - which gives them claim to doing a lot of dna tests).  I understand that Ancestry.com will use the Sorenson lab.

I would also like to see a single standard - which we basically had (except for H4) until Ancestry.com muddied the water.  Until such time as the testing companies actually do come together - I think you have two useful approaches

1. Count on the surname projects to do the correlation.  (Stray results have always been suspect and will continue to be suspect - probably more so.)

2. Find a Correlation Table to work from.  (The last I heard, ISOGG was still waiting for Ancestry.com to define their markers and conversions so that the table could be updated.)

Does anyone know what Ancestry.com's markers actually are and where to find a correlation table?  I figure we will be needing this soon.  For the past year, I have been turning away the handful of folks with GeneBase/GeneTrack results, as we had no way of knowing how to correlate their results, despite repeated requests to GeneBase/GeneTrack.  I will hate to have to do the same with Ancestry, but won't have any choice until we get the correlation table.

Terry

ps  What project are you working with?
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James Ogg
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« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2007, 02:56:54 PM »

I share your concern and have already expressed my thoughts to Relative Genetics - who has "sold out" to Ancestry.com

Thanks very much for your response.  I am glad to see that I am not alone in my concerns.  I also add my support to your comments about Relative Genetics.  I loved their family DNA comparison and calculator tool - simple and elegant.  I hope something similar can be brought into the FTDNA groups.

I am also a FTDNA user and I believe that FTDNA uses Sorenson to test some of the advanced markers because I went back and forth on DYS452.  I am also caught in H4 fight which adds a large differential count.  When there are test discrepancies on either of these two markers it would be hard for anyone to find common ancestors with a reasonable "genetic distance".

I know the Surname group administrators work hard to recruit potential family members and to resolve data conflicts.  I have dealt with several different group administrators who have the best intentions but this is a complex field even with great training.   I will withhold the past group names I used to protect the innocent!!!

Is there anything you would recommend to us who would like to communicate our concerns?  I really don't want to see users get mired in this standards kerfuffle and lose the possibility of finding new family members and their history.

EDIT
I forgot to add that I do not know what DNA ancestry will be using as marker sets for their testing.   When I loaded my FTDNA data there were locations for all of my 67 standard markers as well as the advanced markers I had tested to compare to the RG marker set of my relatives.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2007, 03:03:06 PM by jcostowaway » Logged
Terry Barton
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« Reply #3 on: September 27, 2007, 04:57:48 PM »

I am pretty certain that FTDNA does NOT use Sorenson's lab.  I have toured FTDNA's new lab in Houston, where their advanced tests are run.

My 452 from DNA Fingerprint (precursor to the Houston lab - same Lab Manager - Thomas Krahn) matches my 452 from Sorenson.  I actually had Sorenson retest it, as my result is a mutation from my Dad's and I wanted to be certain of it.  So - it's been tested 3 times - twice by Sorenson and once by DNAF.

When you subtract one from my Sorenson H4 (as the correlation table requires), you get the result that comes from FTDNA.  (Sorenson could have greatly simplified the H4 problem if they had called their result Y-TAGA-H4 - which is what they are actually counting)  FTDNA counts Y-GATA-H4

ISOGG (International Society of Genetic Genealogy) is quite concerned about the correlation issue and has a small group working on it.  GeneBase/GeneTrack has been the recent focus of that effort, as GeneTrack weren't responding to requests for correlation.  GeneTrack have recently responded, but I haven't heard whether their reply was sufficient.

I suppose the same initiative will now be needed with Ancestry.  I hope they don't put us off for a year, too.

The simple way to avoid the standards confusion - and to be able to compare your results with the most other tests - is to encourage your project folks to keep testing at FTDNA.  That also makes sense for another reason - as ancestry isn't providing a project structure until next year.

Terry
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James Ogg
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« Reply #4 on: September 28, 2007, 06:29:51 AM »

Terry,
Thanks for the info on test labs.  I don't remember where I got the info on FTDNA outsourcing the tests on some of the advanced markers, but I think I actually exchanged some emails with FTDNA people about this.  Maybe they have taken these tests back now with the new facilities.

I forgot to add 442 to the list of markers that are being converted at Ancestry (add 5) that have caused problems with identifying potential common ancestral lineages.

Thanks for the info about the working group at ISOGG.  I will contact some of the people I know there to push my concerns. 
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