Monday, March 16, 2009

I want more!

I would really like to have the whole of my mitochondrial DNA sequenced (this is the part of our genome that tells us about our direct matrilineal descent). The best website for this seems to be Family Tree DNA. But out of the three sequencing options they offer – mtDNA, mtDNAPlus, and mtFullSequence –, the only one I’m interested in, because it would give me more information than what I’ve already got from 23andme, is the third one – and currently, that costs 495 dollars. I’m still pondering.

Both the other options would give me much less information than what I already have, and, accordingly, a lower resolution on my maternal “haplogroup” (genetic family). The first option (129 dollars) only reads 22 SNPs (point mutations) in the so-called Hipervariable Region 1 (HVR1), which is like looking at the mtDNA with a simple magnifying glass; the second one (189 dollars), adds to that a series of SNPs from Hipervariable Region 2 (HVR2), which gives a somewhat higher resolution. But compare this to the data from 23andme, which reads some 3,000 SNPs not only from HVR1 and 2, but also along the rest of the whole mtDNA molecule. I rest my case. The advantage of FTDNA, though, is that it’s been around longer and has many more clients than 23andme, which means many more people with whom to compare our results in search of similarities.

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