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Comments on Y-DNA and mtDNA Tests

Posted by Ken Chahine on June 12, 2014 in AncestryDNA

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As many of you know, we announced last week that we’re retiring our Y-DNA and mtDNA tests.

Unfortunately, we didn’t explain clearly our rationale for our decision, which has led to confusion. We’d like to take this opportunity to share the thinking that went into our decision making process.

 

First, we’d like to clarify that we are not retiring our autosomal AncestryDNA test that we launched in May 2012. We are only retiring the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests* that we launched in 2007. While the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests launched genetic genealogy and led to many great discoveries, the autosomal test has opened even more possibilities for family history research. Therefore, our decision to retire the Y-DNA and mtDNA tests is a deliberate attempt to focus our resources on providing powerful family history research tools that use autosomal testing.

Second, as part of the decision to retire Y-DNA and mtDNA tests we were faced with another difficult decision of what to do with the customer samples. On the one hand, we understand the value of these samples to many of you. On the other hand, we take customer privacy seriously and, regrettably, the legal framework used to collect these samples does not allow us to retest or transfer those samples. Practically speaking, many of these samples are also no longer useable. For example, many of the swabs were exhausted of genetic material during our testing or the sample may be past its shelf life. In the end we made the difficult decision to destroy the samples and are committed to trying to find solutions to these roadblocks for future products 

We understand that many of you have spent years using the Y-DNA and mtDNA products for genealogy and no amount of justification will offer you comfort in our decision. It is our hope that our future products will convince you that the autosomal test is a powerful and useful tool for family history.

 

*The genetic results from these tests are available for customers to download until September 5, 2014.

 

UPDATE JULY 1, 2014: Due to recent site issues, we will be extending the period that MyFamily, MyCanvas, Genealogy.com, Mundia, and the Y-DNA and mtDNA websites will be available. These sites will now retire on September 30, 2014. An email will be sent to all customers accordingly.

 

About Ken Chahine
Ken Chahine has served as Senior Vice President and General Manager for Ancestry.com DNA, LLC since 2011. Prior to joining us, he held several positions, including as Chief Executive Officer of Avigen, a biotechnology company in the Department of Human Genetics at the University of Utah, and at Parke-Davis Pharmaceuticals (currently Pfizer). Ken also teaches a course focused on new venture development, intellectual property, and licensing at the University of Utah's College of Law. He earned a Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Michigan, a J.D. from the University of Utah College of Law, and a B.A. in Chemistry from Florida State University.

25 comments

Comments
1 Anne PorterJune 12, 2014 at 5:30 pm

When will the mobile app be available for Microsoft Surface 2 RT?

2 Audrey BabbittJune 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm

I have saved the DNA Results from ancestry.com/dna to my desktop. However, I can not open it. Now what do I do?

This is making more work for us and it leaves less time to research our family history.

We all paid a hefty price for these results and I do not want to lose them.

thanks, Aud

3 AdrianaJune 12, 2014 at 6:40 pm

I understand discontinuing the tests and destroying the samples, if they’re usable at all. I also understand not updating matching or refining the analysis because, after all, if you’re retiring the tests, you are clearly retiring the services attached to the tests.

What I’m a little less clear on is why you’re just deleting the results off the website. Can’t you simply archive them so that they’re viewable? Does it really take that much effort or bandwidth to simply let me see my mtDNA haplogroup?

4 Rick WaggenerJune 12, 2014 at 7:57 pm

I anticipated this when I first heard about the AncestryDNA tests two years ago. I frankly was very disappointed with the Y-chromosome tests for a number of reasons. These included the fact that the statistics used to measure the closeness of matches were just not that precise. Also, the direct paternal line is just one of many different ancestor lines I have worked on and researched.

The nice thing about the Y-chromosome tests was the groups that could be organized around the common surnames. We need something like this for the autosomal tests. Surely somebody can figure out a way to make this happen, and create ways for members of different groups, to compare matches with each other. If you really can’t figure this out, I would love to help you try.

I currently have six tests that I “administer.” These are for myself, my mother, and my deceased father’s brother; also my wife, her father, and her deceased mother’s sister. I am thinking about adding a couple of more tests, one for one of my siblings and one for one of my wife’s siblings. Any “matches” that I get for myself, as well as to either my maternal or paternal line tests, that correlate to my research, further affirm and support that research. Right now I can manually go through my matches and compare them to matches for my mother and uncle, but it is tedious and time consuming. It would be wonderful if there was some way to automatically make this comparison. Better still, it would be wonderful if I could consensually make a similar comparison with the tests of known kin. These “matches” would further affirm our connections and could lead to many possible new areas of connection and research.

Hopefully these are the kinds of “tools” you are planning to add. Please feel free to contact me. I am in the SF Bay area. I have lots of ideas and would love to help make this happen.

5 Judy Moore HillJune 12, 2014 at 9:09 pm

Rick Waggener, have you tried using GEDmatch? It is a free program that atDNA from any of the 3 companies can be uploaded & compared. They are having some problems keeping up with the load since they are all volunteer so it is down sometimes. But, it is a fantastic program. Users send donations to keep it going. You can upload your raw atDNA data & your GEDcom.

Also, did anyone else notice that they mentioned that many of the samples are past shelf life? How does FTDNA guarantee 25 yrs of maintaining our samples? That’s where I’ve done testing & will do more with them. I don’t trust Ancestry for testing, especially now.

6 KathyJune 13, 2014 at 12:32 am

I have more luck being Mary Poppins and having a flying umbrella than I have finding a match that isn’t from a 4th or 5th cousin!
One other thing I will never understand is why someone would do this test, and keep their tree/information private?!

7 Carly HendersonJune 13, 2014 at 8:12 am

Now please explain why you would freeze GenForum. I have been able to help so very many people through Genforum. Now if new information is discovered there will be no way to get that info to those asking for that very info. Thousands, maybe millions, of people have been using that forum. I was able to get valuable help in the Finnish language from people in Finland for example. It is a wonderful resource.
I am a long time Ancestry World member, and Ancestry Autosomal DNA subscriber. But now I’m very angry at Ancestry.

8 Mitch ThompsonJune 13, 2014 at 8:39 am

I found several connections with Y-DNA that did not show up with my Autosomal DNA. I understand that they are different databases. BUT I have to question how committed you are to my research when you delete a valuable tool that I paid you for.

Why didn’t you make an effort to find a compatable company that would incorporate your Y-DNA results into theirs? Was obtaining consent too unwieldly for you?

Frankly, I am tiring of the weekly emails telling me of how your research has “found” new matches in my tree… matches that I previuosly found & attached to my tree sometimes years ago.

9 Trevor ThackerJune 13, 2014 at 8:40 am

Hi Audrey, your raw DNA data will be exported into a .csv file format, which can be uploaded to other Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing services. Have you tried uploading them to another test service?

10 Tom BJune 13, 2014 at 8:52 am

Ancestry & LDS have no peer on records research and both have been tremendously helpful in my journey of search for family connections. Ancestry never established their Sea Legs on DNA testing and tying it into their records and trees.
I tested w/FTDNA, Sorenson’s and 23&me before Ancestry tried their hand at testing. It didn’t take long to realize that Ancestry was using one of those labs and charged me for previous results.
‘Y’ and mito testing go back a very long distance but autosomal is relatively ‘Near-Term.’ It is a ‘Fun time’ DNA equivalent to Lincoln Logs in Home Construction. Ancestry is taking the easy way out. They obviously never were serious about DNA but it is a tool for creating Positive Cash Flow for their ‘Tree” work.
All ancestry did was irritate me with their effort or lack there-of. They had some great ideas but they just fumbled the ball on ‘y’ and Mitochondrial DNA. They are probably now where they need to be.
There will be connections lost that I haven’t seen duplicated elsewhere.
Tying it all together was their biggest boondoggle.

11 Debra Ingrum trammelJune 13, 2014 at 9:37 am

I have long sang Ancestry’s praises in spite of some aggravating problems through the years. Fellow researcher’s lets face it; we are stuck. This reminds me of Walmart! They “own” the industry and there is little or no competition. We the consumer’s are left at their mercy. Seems to me that this entire undertaking was not thought out clearly from the beginning and I’m wondering if these tests have proved to not be profitable for ancestry??? As I complain, I must admit that the testing has yielded little help for me. I also have to say that a couple hundred bucks is difficult for me to come up with and I must choose my expenditures wisely. I do not understand this completely and will feel apprehensive about spending money on any sort of testing with ancestry in the future.

12 Genealogy News Bites to 12 Jun 2014June 13, 2014 at 9:40 am

[...] Comments on Y-DNA and mtDNA Tests [...]

13 ShirleyJune 13, 2014 at 7:45 pm

I agree with Carly. My DNA showed that I have Scandinavian ancestry. It also shows 4th and 5th cousins. Those names are not names in my heritage. Also I have no one from Finland, Norway, Sweden, etc in my line. I am German, English, French — not necessarily in that order. I think I wasted my money.

14 ShirleyJune 13, 2014 at 7:47 pm

I meant to say I agree with being a Mary Poppins flying. (Kathy, #6)

15 Billy J. RiceJune 13, 2014 at 9:07 pm

My one and only reason for DNA testing was to find possible matches. I have been trying to figure out any value in doing the Autosomal DNA. My question is how can I get matches on a test that states your brother may have different results than you? The only thing I see so far is that it will tell me (maybe) where and what my ancestors were. This would be a nice peace of info but not worth $99.00, more like about $5.00 added to my current Y-DNA. It’s possible I just don’t understand this test, please educate me. I am not happy!

16 Michael WardJune 13, 2014 at 10:19 pm

Now that you’re concentrating on autosomal DNA testing, can you please, please, please give us the numerical data on our matches, so we can compare and triangulate among our matches?

I have more than 6000 potential matches on AncestryDNA, including dozens/hundreds of fourth and fifth cousins, but with incomplete trees there is no way to figure out how we are related. Actual data would help tremendously. We don’t need a “chromosome browser” — we just need the numbers.

Please give us our data.

17 JohnJune 14, 2014 at 7:50 am

In his recent YouTube video for Ancestry.uk Sir Tony Robinson finished with this parting comment: “I look forward (more than anything else) to when Ancestry.uk starts to advertise its entry into the world of DNA”. As an American anglophile with anglo/irish roots, I too look forward to that day. Especially since my earliest ancestors to come to North America arrived as late as 1885.

Would that Ancestry would say when the UK (autosomal) roll-out will start.

18 WinonaJune 14, 2014 at 7:54 pm

I purchased my DNA test on 11/08/2011. Was that the Y-DNA and mtDNA test?

19 TCJune 15, 2014 at 1:04 am

I look forward to more groundbreaking results via the DNA Ancestry !!

So far as those that say FTDNA is ‘better’ – funny, I hear the opposite from those that are beyond furious that they changed the Y format. I am VERY glad I did not pay them $800 and more for testing, and it is beyond confusing.

For those that say there is NO way that they are what Ancestry says they are genetically : you will NEVER EVER be able to trace back all of your ancestors .. that is where ‘your story’ began.. others just added to it. Vikings traveled all over, for thousands of years … DNA does not lie. Genetics is not ‘a paper trail’ and to say that you are only X Y and Z is beyond silly. You do not know who ll your ancestors are.

My 4-6th matches are helping me to break through walls. When I see the same names showing up, clearly I ‘am’ related .. I just need to find out where that connection is. I don’t blame Ancestry .. they cannot know who my ancestors are, or anyone else’s. In fact, most of my matches do not have even 50 people within their trees, and it comes back to people not knowing who they come from. DNA helps. It helps a LOT!

I also have figured out many cousins via matching, which has been extremely cool! because my mother did the work, starting back in the 1970s, I have a pretty good start on many outside family names.. those names are hitting, which allowed me to msg them and say Hi cousin! we share this grandfather/grandmother. And I would not have been able to do that without the DNA showing me we were connected and my mothers notes to help guide my tree in the correct direction.

I am also very excited for those overseas who will be able to test via Ancestry as well. Once the legal hurdles are crossed, this is going to be a very exciting adventure indeed! thank you Ancestry! and thank you Sorenson Labs for trusting Ancestry with your original work in gathering samples all over the world.

20 Susan BoesterJune 16, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I too was distressed when I first read that Ancestry was planning to delete my results. The results tied to my family tree! I don’t know why since I have learned nothing from those two tests….nothing, zip….no matches even close enough to try and research. But I have to wonder if this decision was made because you could not afford to match the industry standard in both testing and security. That’s how I feel every year when its time to renew my World Explorer Membership. Can I afford to remain with a company that I now have trust issues with? The only reason I am not ringing your phone off the hook is because I was one of the lucky members who got in on the ground floor of autosomal for free. I do understand that many of those with these results you are maintaining are free members or even people who no longer use Ancestry. But I have a had a paying relationship with you for about 12 years. I would liked to have heard this directly from you BEFORE I got it from Dick Eastman’s Newsletter! It’s not like you don’t have my email address. Some courtesy in the future please!

21 Sharlene MillerJune 17, 2014 at 7:41 am

I too am very disappointed that Ancestry has decided to stop offering Y-DNA and mtDNA testing. I have encouraged many people in the past to have these tests run and to use Ancestry because of the accessibility and continued support for these tests.

I also am very upset that you have chosen to destroy the samples. You have the contact information for people and could allow them to sign whatever releases there are to have the samples and results moved to some other site or testing lab. Many people are still living and those that are not may have left permission for their executors / administrators to manage these samples. I believe there is a way if Ancestry wanted to work on preserving these samples. I hope you will reconsider.

Also, what about all of the information that will be lost by those that worked many years on managing DNA family groups. Please provide support to all who donated samples and have results on your websites.

Please reconsider your decisions.

Sharlene Miller

[...] Comments on Y-DNA and mtDNA Tests by Ken Chahine [...]

23 Ruby L. WisemanJune 29, 2014 at 9:22 am

I’m totally confused after reading all the comments. I do not, so far find the searching for ancestry people friendly. So, I’m going to try the tutorials and see if this help.

I sent for the DNA, and now I’m hearing all this negative stuff. My confusion comes from this-have I thrown away my money on this? I’m asking, will I get the true DNA study, that I just sent out.

I’d like to hear from each of you- a balance of the negative and positive. So, please get back with me soon.

RubyLee

24 wayne johnsonJune 30, 2014 at 12:19 pm

I can not download my raw data for my Y-DNA and mtDNA I keep getting ancestry.com DAN is temporarily unavailable for system maintenance

Is possible to e-mail the data to all the accounts who will lose the date when Ancestry close down Y-DNA and mtDNA

25 Howard BlairJuly 7, 2014 at 4:21 pm

I am not dis appointed you are cancelling these tests. But I would like my samples taken or sent to another company that can connect me to a blood line. This is why I took this test in the first place.
I already knew what counties my surnames came from, i wanted to know whether I am a Blair or Howard by blood, and to find other people who share the same numbers, and earliest ancestor.

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