Category Archives: DNA & Genetic Genealogy

This post is not so much about genealogy…

I am reading the new book Advanced Genetic Genealogy edited by Debbie Parker Wayne. So far, excellent book, full of challenging methodology, case studies, and much more detailed information on how and why DNA works for genealogy than any other books on the market so far.

I was just reading the chapter by Kathryn J. Johnston, MD on X-DNA in which there is a section titled “The Fibonacci sequence is what makes the X unique.” The Fibonacci sequence is a really cool phenomenon that happens in nature quite regularly. The numbers in the Fibonacci sequence are 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, and so on. The sequence starts with the number one and the number that follows is a sum of the previous two numbers (1+1=2, 1+2 = 3, 2+3=5, etc.). The numbers of X-DNA ancestors in each generation follows the Fibonacci sequence!1

First of all, I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Art. I am not a math person. But I know about the Fibonacci sequence by watching these YouTube videos by Vihart called “Doodling in Math Class.”2 I love how math and nature interact.

While this does not really have much to do with genealogy, I thought it was a really cool point that reminded me of some fun videos and I just wanted to share. Fibonacci is everywhere in nature, even in our DNA!

     1. Debbie Parker Wayne, editor, Advanced Genetic Genealogy: Techniques and Case Studies (Cushing, Tx.: Wayne Research, 2019), 76.
     2. There is a series of three videos having to do with the spirals in plants. Very cool!

DNA Samples Without All the Spit

Last week at our DNA SIG, I was asked about how to get a DNA saliva sample from someone who cannot make that much saliva. If you are testing your elderly relatives, this can definitely be a problem.

I remembered a colleague discussing a process (thank you Randy Whited!) and so I went looking for the full instructions. I found an amateur-created YouTube video that gives good, quick instructions.

Check out this YouTube video describing the process.1

Good Luck!

1. Reviews @ Another Teen Mom, “Short & Sweet: AncestryDNA & 23andme WITHOUT Spit!” video, uploaded 1 January 2018; YouTube ( : viewed 30 October 2018).

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

The use of DNA in our genealogical research is becoming more and more prevalent. As the use of DNA has grown, the Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG) has been assessing how it has affected the field. As a result, BCG has adopted new standards for the use of DNA in genealogical work.

The following news release was received from BCG making the announcement:

For immediate release 27 October 2018
News Release, Board for Certification of Genealogists

Board for Certification of Genealogists Adopts Standards for DNA Evidence

On 21 October 2018, the Board for the Certification of Genealogists (BCG) approved five modified and seven new standards relating to the use of DNA evidence in genealogical work. BCG also updated the Genealogist’s Code to address the protection of people who provide DNA samples.

The new measures are intended to assist the millions of family historians who now turn to genetic sources to establish kinships. The action followed a public comment period on proposed standards released by BCG earlier this year.

“BCG firmly believes the standards must evolve to incorporate this new type of evidence,” according to BCG President Richard G. Sayre. “Associates, applicants, and the public should know BCG respects DNA evidence. It respects the complexity of the evidence and the corresponding need for professional standards. BCG does not expect use of DNA to be demonstrated in every application for certification. However, all genealogists, including applicants, need to make sound decisions about when DNA can or should be used, and any work products that incorporate it should meet the new standards and ethical provisions.”

“Standards for Using DNA Evidence,” a new chapter to be incorporated in Genealogy Standards, introduces the issues this way:

“Meeting the Genealogical Proof Standard requires using all available and relevant types of evidence. DNA evidence both differs from and shares commonalities with documentary evidence. Like other types of evidence, DNA evidence is not always available, relevant, or usable for a specific problem, is not used alone, and involves planning, analyzing, drawing conclusions, and reporting. Unlike other types of evidence, DNA evidence usually comes from people now living.”

In brief1, the new standards address seven areas:

  • Planning DNA tests. The first genetic standard describes the qualities of an effective plan for DNA testing including types of tests, testing companies, and analytical tools. It also calls for selecting the individuals based on their DNA’s potential to answer a research question.
  • Analyzing DNA test results. The second genetic standard covers factors that might impact a genetic relationship conclusion, including analysis of pedigrees, documentary research, chromosomal segments, and mutations, markers or regions; also, composition of selected comparative test takers and genetic groups.
  • Extent of DNA evidence. The third genetic standard describes the qualities needed for sufficiently extensive DNA data.
  • Sufficient verifiable data. The fourth genetic standard addresses the verifiability of data used to support conclusions.
  • Integrating DNA and documentary evidence. The fifth genetic standard calls for a combination of DNA and documentary evidence to support a conclusion about a genetic relationship. It also calls for analysis of all types of evidence.
  • Conclusions about genetic relationships. The sixth genetic standard defines the parameters of a genetic relationship and the need for accurate representation of genealogical conclusions.
  • Respect for privacy rights. The seventh genetic standard describes the parameters of informed consent.
  • The modifications made to several existing standards call for:
  • Documentation of sources for each parent-child link.
  • Where appropriate, distinction among adoptive, foster, genetic, step, and other kinds of familial relationships.
  • Use of graphics as aids, for example: genealogical charts and diagrams to depict proved or hypothesized relationships; or lists and tables to facilitate correlation of data and demonstrate patterns or conflicts in evidence.
  • Explanations of deficiencies when research is insufficient to reach a conclusion.

A new edition of Genealogy Standards is expected to be ready by next March. A new application guide and judging rubrics incorporating the new standards will be released at about the same time. In the interim, portfolios submitted for consideration for certification will be evaluated using the existing Genealogy Standards.

1. The Board for Certification of Genealogists® (BCG) contractually granted the publisher of Genealogy Standards the exclusive right to copy, publish and distribute the standards including amendments. However, BCG-certified associates have the contractual right to include reasonable portions of the standards in presentations, articles, blog posts, social media, and the like. In no case may BCG or its associates allow the standards to be published in their entirety because the publisher deems that competitive to its publication rights.

The words Certified Genealogist and the designation CG are registered certification marks and the designations Certified Genealogical Lecturer and CGL are service marks of the Board for Certification of Genealogists, used under license by board-certified associates after periodic competency evaluations, and the board name is registered in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

New AncestryDNA Ethnicity Update

If you haven’t logged in to your Ancestry DNA account today, you might want to go take a peek. They released an update to the ethnicity estimates, making some adjustments and refining some regions to be a little more specific.

Here is mine:

DNA ethnicity update1

Compared to my previous numbers:


You can see that they’ve refined some of the regions such as “Great Britain” to “England, Wales, & Northwestern Europe.” And they’ve split out Wales from the previous category of “Ireland/Scotland/Wales.” “Europe West” has been refined to “Germanic Europe.”

This refinement makes more sense from what I know from documentary research and it is good to see updates to the data.