My DNA results have arrived!

I have previously written about beginning my DNA adventures with a test with 23andMe, a company that focuses more on the health aspects of genetics than the genealogical aspects. They had an offer I couldn’t refuse, and I didn’t!

When I got up this morning there was an email to say that my genetic profile was ready. I had to go out and so couldn’t give this interesting news the attention that it deserved, until now. I’d like to write down my impressions as I go through the results.

The menu is split into three headings:

  • My Health
  • My Ancestry
  • Sharing and Community

The first thing I did before I left the house this morning was look for my mtDNA haplotype under My Ancestry. This is the one that sorts  you into migration groups from 10-50,000 years ago. Mine is X2b:

According to 23andMe haplogroup X2 is mostly found in southern Europe, Central Asia, and North America, with a few scattered populations in places like the Orkney Islands in Scotland. It is relatively rare in most of the populations in which it is found.

It’s nice to think that my haplogroup is relatively rare. We all like to think of ourselves as a bit special! I can trace my direct female line back five generations to Agnes Allan, who married William Stewart in Paisley, Scotland, in 1827, and died before William remarried and took his family to Auckland, New Zealand in 1842. So perhaps she was descended from the people who ended up in Orkney.

Other headings under My Ancestry are:

  • Relative Finder, which won’t have results for another week or so. Disappointing!
  • Paternal Line which is no good to me since I am not male and the paternal line can only be traced by the Y chromosome, which women do not have.
  • Ancestry Painting, which makes no sense to me at the moment. It has a diagram of some chromosomes and a key that shows different colours meaning different things if the chromosomes show those colours. My chromosomes show no colours, only grey bits, and apparently “Gray segments indicate regions where 23andMe’s genotyping chip has no markers.”
  • Global Similarity shows your similarity to groups of people from around the world. Check it out:

Global similarity map

Global similarity graphI am slightly more similar to the people of Oceania than to any of the Europeans. Apparently Oceania includes the people of Australia (ie, Aboriginals), New Guinea and the Pacific Islands, including New Zealand, but the sample only includes those from New Guinea. The sample dates from January 2008, which is a bit disappointing.

There is the opportunity to see the graph for others who have shared their profile with you, and those I can see have predominantly Northern Europeans and very little Oceania. That makes sense. Most of us in Australia, aside from the Aboriginal people, come from Europe.

My father, however, is a part-European Fijian. The Fijians are Melanesian, with some Polynesian where they associated with people from Tonga and other islands. So this result makes some sense.

When I have some time I will delve into these results in more detail to work out how they arrive at the conclusions they have.

Under the heading Sharing and Community are the tools for comparing your genes with those of relatives. So far I have shared my profile with two people, and I have no similarities with either of them. I will look at this category in more detail when it has something to show me.

The first heading, which I have left until last, is My Health. First up is Disease Risk.

The results for Parkinson’s Disease are locked, so that they can explain what the results mean, and don’t mean, before you see them. I think that’s a good idea. I have a scientific background and know that the percentages they are talking about are very small, but others may be unnecessarily concerned.

The other results are displayed in a long list, with the increased risk first, followed by decreased risk and then typical risk. The ones on the top of my list are no more than double the very low average incidence, which is heartening. I can then click on each one to find out more. Here are some of my ‘typical risks':

Health typical risk

Where the results show a red and green arrow there are multiple markers associated with the condition, and I may have one or more of them.

It would be easy, I imagine, to use these results as an excuse to do nothing. If I see a graph that shows my risk of heart attack is greater than average I might resign myself to the fact and keep living on fatty foods and no exercise (which I don’t – it’s hypothetical). Or I could make some changes to counteract the predisposition in my genes.

Each item on the list also gives a ‘confidence rating’, the stars, based on the number of studies that have been done and the number of participants in the studies.

I have a slightly higher risk of developing asthma, based on one of three markers for which studies have been done. The studies are listed and described, with the type of population and numbers of subjects described. I actually do suffer from asthma.

Carrier status to certain conditions has a similar layout. I’ll have a good look at that later.

Drug response will also take some time to digest. I am likely to be a fast metaboliser of caffeine, which I gave up some years ago, and I have typical results for most other items on the list.

Traits looks interesting. I don’t have the muscle performance of a world-class sprinter, nor am I resistant to malaria or HIV/AIDS. I am likely to have brown eyes (correct) and to have straighter hair (correct, despite my father having frizzy black hair).

That’s enough for now. It will take some time to go into this more thoroughly. My initial reaction is positive, and I’m glad I spent the $99.

Image courtesy of Chris Harvey at Dreamstime.

A good reason to write a blog

Blog posts are a snapshot in time. Just as a photograph can tell you a lot about someone, so can a blog post, even when they talk about seemingly trivial things. Even memes, those things that seem to go around like a craze in primary school, can be meaningful.

I have been sorting through old drafts that were never published, and I found this one from October 2008:

Ten years ago I was:

  1. Working on the implementation of a new computer system to prepare for Y2K
  2. Sharing our new house with my sister’s family until theirs was ready to move into
  3. Wondering how long my mother’s new marriage would last (not long)
  4. Planting Australian natives in the garden
  5. Spending too much money

Five things on today’s to-do list:

  1. Give the cat his antibiotics (done)
  2. Call my Dad to see how my step-mother is doing (trying)
  3. Go and see my step-mother in hospital
  4. Meet an old friend for lunch (will do)
  5. Do some neglected housework (not done)

Five snacks I enjoy:

  1. My sister’s brownies
  2. Yoghurt
  3. A banana, or some grapes
  4. dry-roasted cashews
  5. Did I mention my sister’s brownies?

Five places I have lived (in no particular order):

  1. Beautiful leafy Hornsby in Sydney’s northern suburbs (for the last 20-odd years)
  2. Dubbo in Central Western New South Wales (where I grew up)
  3. A flat in Rockdale in Sydney’s south (while I was at uni)
  4. A semi-detached house in inner-city Stanmore (when I was finishing uni and starting work)
  5. Suva, Fiji (for about 6 months when I was 12)

Five jobs I have had:

  1. Salesgirl at Woolworths Variety when I was 14 or 15
  2. Sales assistant at Angus and Robertson book store in Dubbo between school and uni
  3. Bar attendant at a couple of southern Sydney pubs while I was at uni
  4. Clerk for the Department of Immigration and Ethnic Affairs for a couple of years when I finished uni
  5. Computer programmer at the gas company

Five places I would like to visit:

  1. Ireland – Northern Ireland and the Republic
  2. The National Archives of Fiji
  3. Namibia (again)

None of this will have any significance for anyone outside of my family, I suspect. For my close family, however, it may mean a great deal. Not only does it say to anyone who is interested some details of my past and present life, but it has some bearing on other events that had great significance.

I suspect that I didn’t finish the post because of what was going on at the time. I did talk to my Dad about how my step-mother was doing, and I went to see her in hospital every day and sat with her while my sister, her daughter, raced home to get things done. We moved her home when the hospital could no longer do anything for her, and after a few days she passed away, in her own bed with her family around her. Only 11 days after I wrote this.

It still hurts that she was taken so soon. 60 is young, these days. Her father lived much, much longer.

I also remember meeting the old friend for lunch. He told me a trick to do with parking near the hospital before the afternoon peak hour.

It was a shock to read through this post after all this time. I thought I would share it with my family, and anyone else who is interested.

Adi, Christmas 2007

When to say Enough is enough

I’ve been part of the 1st ProGen Study Group for nearly 18 months now. Each month we study a chapter or two of the book and do an assignment which is submitted to others in the group for review.

Assignment 16 was the toughest yet – we had to write a proof argument for some part of our family history where the answer required some deductive reasoning. I chose two cases from my own family and started writing each one. The Irish/Australian Eason case seemed too complex for a first attempt, so I chose the other one, on my Fijian Riley side.

Big mistake. You’ve probably already seen it. I didn’t. I’m in Australia, and the records I need are not. I have some, but I need more. So I don’t have enough evidence for the case I was trying to make, and it turned out not to be a ‘proof’ at all.

By the time I realised this I decided it was too late to go back and start again with the other one, so I kept going. My assignment got later and later, and I still didn’t have enough. I’ve almost finished transcribing a ship’s log from 1831-2 and I have two more to go. I’ve searched the Fiji Times from 1869 onwards, which is far too late to be relevant but I had to try!

I handed it in, so to speak, today – non-standard citations, unclear argument and all. I’m over it.

When the frustration has worn off some I’ll post my findings here.