Saturday, December 15, 2012

My Family on the DNA Level

 By: Mikaela Reisman

I had myself sequenced with 23andMe last semester, and was so interested, I wanted to take another APG class that would go into more depth with it.  In September, my dad did his spit-test, in October, my mom volunteered, and during Thanksgiving, my dad and I convinced my paternal grandmother (who is 90!) to try it (it was no cost to her, as we paid for it, although she complained about the amount of spit that was needed).  My grandmother's results came in two days ago, and combined with my parents' and my own, things are coming together.

I already knew my maternal haplogroup (H10), and where my mother's family had been for centuries, because of my own testing and because of an extensive family tree.  My cousin has been sending me emails with old photos attached, of my great-grandparents on both of my mom's parents' sides, as well as great aunts and uncles, and even further back.  There is a daguerreotype of my great-great (etc.) grandfather Schemmel (my mom's maiden name) from the early 1800s even.  Considering all I know, the DNA results came as a slight surprise.  My mom is only 1.6% German according to 23andMe, and I am 8.6%.  This obviously means 23andMe has a way to go before their results in ancestry are close to perfect.

My dad was the most fascinating (hence why I wanted him to be tested first).  This is because I am the carrier of the disease Familial Mediterranean Fever, and he is too.  We also found out that my Grammy is as well (no surprise).  This does not prove they are my father and grandmother, but other evidence suggests it, like the fact that half of my chromosomes are the same as my dad's.  My dad has another reason for trying 23andMe, and this is to find out more about his (and my) family.  He has been told that his mother's family came over to the U.S. from Ukraine between 1915 and 1920 (my grandmother was born here in 1922).  He does not know anything about his father's side (as he never knew him), and has wanted to learn more about both sides for years.  We discovered some British/French/Basque roots (not exact, obviously), and this has brought us a few steps closer.  My dad is his mother's son (they share the K1a1b1a haplogroup), and he also discovered his (and my) paternal haplogroup (R1b1b2, which confirms the north/western European roots).  I even found out that my grandmother has some middle-eastern roots, which makes sense, as she is 100% Jewish.  I am just waiting for 23andMe to come out with new information to help with my dad's dad's side.

Wow.  I probably would need a separate post if I wanted to go into other things, but to me, ancestry was the most interesting.  I am Ashkenazi Jewish, German, Ukrainian, and possibly British (or something else).  Of course, exact nationalities have no real meaning, but the regions do help provide answers to family mysteries, as well as to help bring to life my family from years ago.

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