"Second, as part of the decision to retire Y-DNA and mtDNA tests we were faced with another difficult decision of what to do with the customer samples. On the one hand, we understand the value of these samples to many of you. On the other hand, we take customer privacy seriously and, regrettably, the legal framework used to collect these samples does not allow us to retest or transfer those samples. Practically speaking, many of these samples are also no longer useable. For example, many of the swabs were exhausted of genetic material during our testing or the sample may be past its shelf life. In the end we made the difficult decision to destroy the samples and are committed to trying to find solutions to these roadblocks for future products." (Source: http://blogs.ancestry.com/ancestry/2014/06/12/comments-on-y-dna-and-mtdna-tests)There was widespread concern in the genetic genealogy community at the potential loss of this valuable resource. The decision was particularly hard on those people with deceased relatives in the AncestryDNA database. Many people wrote to Ancestry to ask for the samples to be retained and a petition was started asking them to reconsider. A number of leading genetic genealogists and bloggers also pleaded directly with Ancestry to ask them to change their minds. Nevertheless, it was widely assumed that once Ancestry's Y-DNA and mtDNA database was taken down at the end of September 2014, the DNA samples would be destroyed at the same time. However, I'd heard unofficially that the samples hadn't been destroyed after all so I asked Mike Mulligan, International Product Manager of Ancestry.com, for clarification on the issue. This is the official response that he sent me from the AncestryDNA team:
AncestryDNA stores DNA samples in a secure facility designed specifically for the preservation of DNA. Though we no longer offer Mitochondrial and Y-DNA specific DNA tests, Ancestry continues to store the DNA samples collected from the past. We are currently in discussion as to the future of the stored Y-DNA and Mitochondrial samples and take this responsibility seriously. Ancestry understands the value of the tests to family history research and for this reason, members will continue to have access to their digital results by downloading the file from the AncestryDNA results page. This feature will be available for the foreseeable future.
When a decision is made, Ancestry will work to inform customers affected by these changes. In the meantime, be assured that Ancestry is working toward the best outcome for the Mitochondrial and Y-DNA samples.It's reassuring to know that Ancestry have listened to their customers, and I hope that a satisfactory solution can be found for everyone concerned.