Tuesday 17 July 2012

Update on SMGF and GeneTree

In May this year Ancestry.com announced the launch of their new autosomal DNA testing service. The launch was also accompanied by the news that Ancestry had acquired the DNA assets of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF). The full press release from Ancestry can be seen here. Although not mentioned in the press release the DNA assets acquired by Ancestry also included the DNA testing company GeneTree, which was the commercial arm of SMGF. GeneTree is now no longer accepting orders for DNA kits and the website will be closed down at the end of the year. Anyone who has tested with GeneTree is encouraged to download their results and transfer them elsewhere. GeneTree has provided instructions here on how to download your data.
GeneTree Y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) results can be transferred free of charge to AncestryDNA. You will need to set up a free Ancestry account if you don't already have one to upload your results. Y-DNA results can also be transferred free of charge to Ysearch, a free public database of Y-DNA results. mtDNA results can be uploaded free of charge to Mitosearch. Both Ysearch and Mitosearch are sponsored by Family Tree DNA but accept results from all testing companies and allow you to search the databases for matches.

Only a small proportion of FTDNA customers upload their results to Ysearch and Mitosearch and for most former GeneTree customers in the long run the best option would be to join the FTDNA database. All the large haplogroup and geographical projects are at Family Tree DNA along with over 90% of all the surname projects, including almost all the projects for the very common surnames. FTDNA are also now the only company which offer advanced marker tests (SNP testing) for people who are interested in exploring their deep ancestry. Y-DNA results can be transferred to FTDNA on the payment of a small fee as part of FTDNA's Third Party Y-DNA Transfer ProgrammeThere is no similar scheme to transfer mtDNA results to the FTDNA database, and you would have to buy a new mtDNA test from FTDNA to be included in their mtDNA database.

There has been considerable uncertainty over the fate of the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation database following the acquisition by Ancestry. SMGF has now announced that the site "will continue to operate for the foreseeable future as a freely accessible tool for the genetic genealogy community". The full text of the announcement can be read hereIt is, however, still unclear what exactly Ancestry intends to do with the SMGF data. The genealogical information and DNA data were contributed by genealogists on the understanding that they were contributing to a non-profit research project. It would be a different matter entirely if this information were to be included in a commercial genealogy database and presumably Ancestry would be required to gain the consent of all SMGF participants if they wished to re-use their data in the Ancestry database, though the legal position in the US is not clear. If you are at all concerned about Ancestry having access to your data you can choose to have your data removed from the SMGF database. Details are provided on the SMGF consent form.

I will be reporting on the new Ancestry autosomal DNA test in a future blog post. The kits were initially restricted to residents of the US and it is not yet known if the test will be marketed in other countries. However, as an Ancestry subscriber I have now been able to buy a kit from the US at the introductory price of $99. I returned the kit this week and hope to have some results in the next few weeks. It will be interesting to see how it compares with the 23andMe test and Family Tree DNA's Family Finder test which I have already reported on.

© Debbie Kennett 2012

No comments: