DNA Developments: Looking Back at Genetic Genealogy in 2018

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DNA developments in the news

Can you believe that 2018 is nearly gone? There are just a few short weeks…um days…left. DNA made the news in some amazing ways this year. So, buckle up for a quick review of the DNA developments, as well as a look into 2019.

The biggest development was the use of genetics and genealogy to solve cold case crimes across the US. Leaving your personal feelings and the ethical debate behind, this has affected the genealogy community greatly. I have answered many questions from people who had never thought about genealogy before who were now intrigued by what their DNA—and their genealogy—held.

DNA developments and genetic genealogy

DNA tools at your fingertips

Last spring DNA Painter made a splash with its incredible website. If you haven’t heard of it before now, this website allows you to “paint” your chromosome with segments as you identify them. The process gives you a colorful chart of ancestral DNA segments, which can be helpful as you identify other descendants of common ancestors. Plus, you can figure out exactly which bits of you came from whom.

The most recent development in 2018 came in November from Genetic Affairs. This program takes your results from AncestryDNA, FamilyTreeDNA, and 23andMe, collates your matches, and then emails them to you.

If you like that, you’ll love the AutoClustering function. Despite not being free, people have been losing their minds over this tool because it shows you a graphic of all three-way matches in your list. This is not verified triangulation, but you can use it as a starting tool. Just be warned, some people have lost whole weekends playing with the software!

Making genetic genealogy accessible

Finally, MyHeritage held an all-genetic genealogy conference in Oslo, Norway this past November. While it is not the only one of its kind (there is also the Family Tree DNA conference in Houston and the i4gg conference in San Diego), this one was geared more to general users and made their live streaming videos free to view. Add in the inaugural Virtual DNA Conference at Family Tree University, and there were a lot of opportunities to learn more about your genetic family history in 2018.

This is a trend I hope continues. While it’s still a niche part of the genealogy community, genetics can be accessible to everyone. Yes, some may need to put a little more work into it than others, but with the right support, the future is bright if you want to learn.

Looking forward

The question now: What DNA developments are in store for us in 2019? I am anxious to see what new tech is unveiled at RootsTech 2019, here and in London. Plus, I cannot wait to see how the face of genetic genealogy education is transformed and increased. There are excellent programs in the works right now and I cannot encourage you enough to go out and learn as much as you can! Stay tuned, we will get you the scoop as it becomes available.