Thursday, 5 June 2014

Ancestry.com announcement regarding discontinuation of Y-DNA and mtDNA tests

I wrote a couple of months ago about the difficulties people were having ordering the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests from AncestryDNA and I speculated at the time that they might be phasing out these tests. Ancestry have made an official announcement today that they will be discontinuing both their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests with immediate effect. Results will be available for download until 5th September. After this date the results will no longer be accessible and all the stored Y-DNA and mtDNA samples will be destroyed. It appears that Ancestry's entire Y-DNA and mtDNA database will, therefore, disappear on 5th September. Four other Ancestry services  MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com and Mundia  are being "retired" at the same time so that the company can better focus on what they call their "core offerings". The AncestryDNA groups are hosted on the MyFamily website so these will also disappear on 5th September.

The following e-mail has been sent out to AncestryDNA Y-DNA and mtDNA customers:
Y-DNA and mtDNA tests and results will no longer be available 
Over the years we have built up a variety of products that enable our users to discover, preserve and share their family history. 
We recognize that there are a lot of ways that we, as a company, can make family history easier, more accessible and more fun for people all over the world. 
In order to do this, we need to focus on our core offerings to ensure we’re delivering the best service and best product experience to our customers. 
To that end, we've decided to retire our Y-DNA and mtDNA service on September 5, 2014, which means you will not be able to review your results after this date, but can download your raw DNA data prior to that time. 
To safely and securely download your raw DNA data that comes as part of the service, you can export your results prior to the service’s retirement, by visiting DNA.Ancestry.com and logging in to begin the download process. Your raw DNA data will be exported into a .csv file format, and can be uploaded to other Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing services. 
We understand the value you can gain from Y-DNA and mtDNA test results, however we’ve decided to retire these tests in order to dedicate more resources to the autosomal DNA test, called AncestryDNA, which surveys a person's genome at more than 700,000 locations. 
We recognize that there are a lot of ways that we, as a company, can make family history easier, more accessible and more fun for people all over the world. 
We encourage you to check out AncestryDNA as a way for you to try another DNA experience that has many benefits. Take a look at what AncestryDNA users are saying about their experience: 
Maggie from Pennsylvania - “Did this for me and my husband, now the kids have an in depth knowledge of who they are. Some surprises too!” 
Evelyn from California - “We did this and the results are fascinating and I have found several 2nd - 5th cousins because of matches.” 
Judi from Texas - “You'll be amazed at the results. Turned out my maternal grandmother was Russian and not German ... Ancestry.com is the greatest search tool yet … and the DNA test was just the icing on the cake!"
I would urge anyone who has tested with AncestryDNA to transfer their Y-DNA results to Family Tree DNA where they can join the relevant surname projects, Y-DNA haplogroup projects and geographical projects. There are various transfer options available starting at just $19. For details see the FTDNA page Y-DNA transfer from another company. If for any reason you do not wish to transfer your Y-DNA results to FTDNA you can upload your results to the free Ysearch database. Whatever you decide do make sure that you at least download your results before they disappear from the website altogether.

If you've taken a mitochondrial DNA test with AncestryDNA there are unfortunately no transfer options but you can upload your mtDNA results to the free Mitosearch database.

This announcement was probably inevitable given the low priority that Ancestry have given to their Y-DNA and mtDNA tests in the last year or so. However, it does rather beg the question as to what their future plans might be. Y-DNA and mtDNA tests are not only useful in their own right but serve as a complement to an autosomal DNA test. I wonder if a new AncestryDNA chip is perhaps on the horizon which will provide information on Y-DNA and mtDNA hapogroups along the lines of the tests from 23andMe and the Genographic Project.

Note that the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test is currently only on sale in the US, though Ancestry have indicated that they might be ready to launch in the UK and in some other countries in 2015. While the AncestryDNA test is potentially a good option for Americans with Colonial American ancestry because of the large size of their database and the integration with family trees, the AncestryDNA test lacks many of the essential tools, such as a chromosome browser and matching segment data, which are provided by the other major testing companies. For comparative information on the different autosomal DNA tests see Tim Janzen's Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart in the ISOGG Wiki.

CeCe Moore attended a bloggers' conference call where the announcement was made and she has further information in her blog post Ancestry.com officially retires Y-DNA and mtDNA testing.

See also Ancestry's blog post Ancestry.com focuses on core offerings, the AncestryDNA Legacy DNA FAQs and the AncestryDNA MyFamily FAQs.

Update 12th June 2014
Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President of AncestryDNA, has a written a post on the Ancestry.com blog, Comments on Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, explaining the rationale behind the decision.

5 comments:

Your Genetic Genealogist said...

Hi Debbie,
It wasn't at SCGS Jamboree where I learned about this, but rather a blogger conference call with Ancestry.com yesterday afternoon.
Thanks for spreading the word! I sure hope we can encourage many to transfer these records to FTDNA or, at least, Ysearch since it is a loss of a valuable database.

Debbie Kennett said...

Thanks CeCe. I've corrected the blog post to make that clear.

I've also now answered my own question about the AncestryDNA groups. They are hosted on the MyFamily website so they will now disappear on 5th September too. I've updated my blog post accordingly.

John Cleary said...

Hi Debbie
Is there any news about what may happen to the SMGF database and whether that will also be closed at the same time? It would be pity to lose two databases at one blow.

Also I've tried clicking on groups in Ancestry DNA and it looks as if they are not working now - I'm getting an Error 404 Not Found message for them.

Debbie Kennett said...

John, I'm afraid I don't know what will happen to the SMGF database. I'm hoping that the bloggers at Jamboree will be able to get some answers for us. Ancestry did originally promise to maintain the SMGF database for the "foreseeable future". They are re-testing some of the SMGF samples to use as reference populations for their autosomal DNA test. That is actually another of my concerns which is probably best reserved for another blog post. The SMGF was set up as a non-profit organisation and I believe that the original testees should have been asked to re-consent for their DNA to be re-tested and used for commercial gain.

The AncestryDNA groups were working for me yesterday and I managed to send messages to the handful of people who were in my groups. I'm getting the same 404 error message as you now. I hope it is only a temporary glitch, perhaps as a consequence of everyone trying to donwload their data. The website wasn't scheduled to close until 5th September.

Legacy Tree said...

Our team DNA genealogist says you can currently transfer your information from AncestryDNA to FTDNA for only $19. Well worth it so you can continue to be notified of matches! Here's more info on that: http://genealogistsblog.legacytree.com/2014/06/a-change-in-dna-test-offerings-by.html