Wednesday, December 30, 2015

5 Years and 10 Genotypes Later!

As the year 2015 comes to a close, I've decided to do some reflecting on the genetic side of my research! It's kind of crazy to think that it has already been 5 years since I first got my DNA tested with 23andme and currently I am up to 10 genotyped family members!

23andme home page [23andme]

Getting my DNA tested back in 2010 was an amazing and wonderful decision. I remember getting my DNA tested because I wanted to learn more about my family (duh--- right?) but I had VERY little information on my family at that time. I had heard about 23andme on TV and was interested in this test for a project I was interested in going into at the time. Since I had to start my family tree from scratch, I only knew the name of 6 of my 8 great-grandparents, and that was about it! At this point I was 20 years old and still naïve with certain things about genealogy since I had only known about the census records. Testing with 23andme opened many doors, I was introduced to various cousins and especially one (dunno if she reads my blog) who took the time to speak to me about the Puerto Rican Civil Registry, and other records, and how I could further my lines with their use. Since then I have searched other records online, in microfilm, and even in Puerto Rico allowing me to reach the 1600s in some lines and I have also discovered that I have ancestors from Martinique and Guadeloupe! Of course I was able to learn about myself genetically, but finding out about this community was really a refreshing breath of air; I had only known myself and co-worker who were interested in genealogy since no one in my family could be bothered, really.

After I tested myself, I decided I wanted to get other members of my family tested for various reasons (Y-DNA, mtDNA, disease inheritance, etc.) and so I decided to test various members of my family during sales, 9 besides myself including: my mother, father, maternal uncle, maternal grandmother, maternal grandfather, maternal great-grandfather, maternal cousin, paternal great-aunt, paternal great-aunt. Sadly my great-grandfather and a paternal great-aunt have passed since they have tested and I am eternally grateful for their contribution to our genealogy.

Testing these members of my family allowed me to see how I have inherited certain DNA from both sides, for example: my mother contributes ~11% of African DNA to me while my dad only gives me ~5% and European-wise I get about ~35% from my paternal side while my maternal side gives me about ~28%, which isn't too different. My native DNA is pretty similar from both sides also as well my Middle Eastern/North African. I have also been able to learn more about the Y-DNA and mtDNA my ancestors carry, so far I've gotten European, African, and Asian haplogroups with African and Asian being only maternal haplogroups. With my grandfather, his J1e could be Jewish/Arab (there is still a debate as to what group it can specifically be attributed to) which is interesting since his last name Correa is popularly known as a Sephardic surname. On the other hand, my great-grandfather has a haplogroup which is commonly found amongst the Irish which was interesting to learn about as well. Also, I have tested another cousin through ftDNA who is a male descendant of my 4th great-grandfather Jean Charles Chaleau and I'm hoping to learn more about his mixed ancestry from Guadeloupe.

Parental Split View [23andme personal photo]

One thing that has been extremely difficult for me though is using my DNA to find and match cousins. Since Puerto Rican genes have been recycled throughout the years with endogamy and it being such a small island, sometimes it is difficult to see which side of my family a cousin comes from. A lot of the time, the genetic cousins match both my sides and those that I can bring down to a certain side - it's still difficult to pinpoint which of our ancestors match. Things like limited researched genealogies and limited documents on the island make it hard to find cousins through the site for many Puerto Ricans, not just myself. To this day I haven't been able to confirm through paper trail and genetics a cousin who I haven't previously known about on 23andme. Maybe I'm doing something wrong especially since I have so many family members tested, but so far no luck! A lot of it also is two-sided, I can't figure out our connection just with your parents' names or by telling me all of your ancestors are from Spain, but luckily there are cousins who we have been able to pinpoint a specific town and/or certain surnames but we're just missing the actual connection between us two.

I'm definitely grateful for what I have learned throughout these 5 years and 10 genotypes of my family. I have seen my family tree through a different light and especially how diverse my family is on the inside. I'm proud to know approximately how much I carry of each of my ancestors' European, African, or Native DNA and how that has contributed to who I am today. Hopefully DNA analysis gets much sharper and helps to pinpoint better certain aspects of DNA, for example finding African tribes/regions my African ancestors belonged to (AncestryDNA has gotten into this a bit). Equally, I hope to test some more cousins and learn some more about other lines in my family and help to prove/disprove certain theories I've been building with paper trail. 

Finally, testing with other companies and comparing my DNA has been interesting as well. I'm hoping that more cousins test and build their trees so that we can connect and see how we connect through our DNA. There are some cousins who I have confirmed through paper trail and would love for them to test! So don't be afraid... test primos!!

How has genetic DNA changed your perspective on genealogy? Feel free to share! 

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