Monday, February 16, 2009

DNA Results - Does the Number of Matches Mean Anything?

I mainly do tax work now but I'm an accountant and auditor by nature so I'm always looking for patterns in data. Sometimes patterns are coincidental, other times they point towards something. I've been wondering about the results of the various DNA tests I've had done for myself and several family members.

Me - mtDNA=no matches, not a single one

Arnold Klein (my dad) - Y-DNA=3 exact at 12 markers, 1 at 25 markers, 1 at 37 markers
Arnold Klein - mtDNA=239 low resolution, 61 high resolution

Jerry Schneider - Y-DNA=39 exact at 12 markers, 1 at 25 markers, none at 37 markers

Jason Berger - Y-DNA=118 exact at 12 markers, 4 at 25 markers, none at 37 markers

Barry Lutsky - Y-DNA=133 exact at 12 markers (upgrade just ordered)

The results for Jason's Y-DNA test are both exciting and disappointing at the same time. What I've been wondering is, is it just a coincidence that a lot of DNA cousins just happen to be interested in DNA testing for genealogical research or is this really a very large Y-DNA pool with lots of male babies being born each generation? At the 12 marker level, there are matches in India, Italy (Catholic), and the Caribbean. Unfortunately, these are all distant matches and the common ancestor will probably never be found. Too bad...the stories I've heard from several people would add some spice to my family history.

Arnold's Y-DNA test yielded some exciting results. We have an exact 37 marker match with an Eli Lande. Unfortunately I can trace my Klein family back to Kovno/Kaunas, Lithuania in 1895 and Eli Lande's daughter Myrna has her dad's family traced back further but in Berdichev, Ukraine. Unfortunately Myrna passed away before we could find the connection. If I ever do find it, I will make sure to tell her husband.

The Lutsky test results surprised me. I expected a few matches but not this many. Wow! I just ordered the upgraded tests so hopefully we can whittle it down to a match with a common ancestor that lived not too long ago.

I discovered a couple of years ago that the mtDNA testing is generally a waste of time. It is a lot less precise than the Y-DNA testing. I still do find it odd that my mtDNA does not have a single match. This may just be that not as many people purchase the mtDNA tests. The number of mtDNA matches on my dad's test would be very exciting if the results were better at pinpointing when a common ancestor might have lived.

It only takes one good match to find a closely related ancestor. Many matches doesn't ensure a common ancestor will be found. I haven't figured out yet if the large number of matches is just a coincidence. Maybe a discernible pattern will eventually emerge. In the meantime I'll just keep my fingers crossed that I will hear about closer matches in the not too distant future.


Scott said...

Do they only match you to people who had the test done with the same company? Or is there some registry? What company did you use?

Sharon said...

The results will normally only match other researchers within FamilyTreeDNA. I believe there are several outside projects that you can join through FTD and have your results submitted.