Raising Genomes’ Profiles

By Diane Haddad Premium

A new DNA testing site with backing from Google <google.com> purports to “help you understand your DNA.” It’s called 23andMe <23andme.com>, a reference to the 23 pairs chromosomes making up your genome.

The site’s $999 test examines your mtDNA and your autosomal DNA (everything but the X or Y chromosome) for genetic variations called SNPs (pronounced “snips”). You have about 500,000 SNPs linked to everything from your heart attack risk to whether you like Brussels sprouts.

To use 23andMe, order a kit, send in a saliva sample and await notification you can log on to get your DNA profile. According to 23andMe, its test is more accurate than most genetic genealogy tests because it evaluates more of your mtDNA and more locations on your autosomal DNA. That doesn’t translate into more genealogical information, though.

The service includes tools you can use to understand what your phenotypes (observable traits resulting from interactions between your genes and the environment) mean for your health-23andMe’s focus-and your ancient ancestry. W1th the Global Similarity Map, for example, you’ll see which populations have individuals with genomes similar to yours. Use the Maternal Ancestry Tree to learn your haplogroup, or an alphanumerical designation for your clan’s place on the world family tree. Though you’ll learn about your “deep” roots, rather than ancestors who lived within a genealogical time frame, the explanations of DNA testing terms are helpful.
From the May 2008 issue of Family Tree Magazine.