1. What is DNA testing and how can
we use it in our genealogy research?
2. What are "Haplogroups" and how do we use them in our DNA study?
3. Why may only Overton male descendents participate in this project?
4. What is does M.R.C.A. mean and why is it important to us?
5. What are the chances of two males with the same surname having an identical 37-marker test, but not being related?
6. How complicated is the DNA testing and is it invasive?
7. Is my privacy protected? What if I don't want anyone else to know what my results are?
8. How much does it cost to take the DNA test?
9. How do I participate in this Overton DNA project?
10. Still More Questions?
Deoxyribonucleic acid, or "DNA," is a chemical structure which forms chromosomes in all human beings. For those interested in the scientific details of DNA testing, the Blair Genealogy website provides what it calls a primer in DNA, DNA-101. If one wishes to have additional background reading, he or she can find additional reading material at the DNA interactive website.
"Haplogroups" are used to broadly classify the results of DNA testing into sixteen different ancient clusters of people and their associated ancestral roots, going back many thousands of years. Only eight markers are needed to determine the proper haplogroup for an individual, but much can be learned by knowing which haplogroup to which one's paternal ancestors belong. Click here to review each of the sixteen defined haplogroups.
Certain Y-chromosome characteristics are passed only from a male to only his male descendants and our DNA testing focuses on one particular segment of that Y-chromosome. This is why this project is limited to only males with the surname Overton (or any derivative form of that name). Any male can have his DNA tested for the purpose of genealogy, but their results will only be of use to individuals with the same surname. Within the Y-chromosome we are analyzing in this project, we are concentrating on either 12, 25 or 37 individual "markers." The greater the number of markers, the more expensive the test becomes, but the quality of the results also are higher.
It is important to understand that male participants in this DNA testing project may find that there are other males with different surnames whose DNA markers match their results when the lower resolution 12-marker test results are analyzed. There are, after all, tens of thousands of individual records in the FamilyTreeDNA data base.
The results of the DNA tests allow us to group the participants together in a common-ancestor "Clan," based on each person in that Clan having the identical "repetition value" for each of the 25-, 37- or 67-markers tested. There are exceptions to this, just to make things more complicated. Of the 25/37/67 markers, some are considered "fast mutating" in that they may evolve at a different and faster rate than the remaining markers. FamilyTreeDNA suggests that as a result, two males with the same surname likely have a common recent ancestor, even if one or two of their 25 markers don't exactly match, assuming these mismatches are the "fast mutating" markers.
To better understand the concept of "matches," one may wish to read FamilyTreeDNA's explanation.
The bottom line? We're all looking for the oldest Overton male in our lineage. This DNA project allows us to find our distant cousins and use the documentation and results of their hard work in the field of genealogy.
The acronym "M.R.C.A." is very important to this whole concept of genealogy and DNA. That's because the letters stand for "Most Recent Common Ancestor." Click here for an intelligent, statistically-oriented explanation from the folks at FamilyTreeDNA. Read on for my interpretation.
Assuming there are two participants with the same last name who have a match on 25 of 25 marker values; then, there is a 50% probability that they shared a common ancestor as recently as seven generations ago, or in the early 19th century. There is a 90% probability that that common ancestor could be found as recently as twenty-three generations ago, or in the early 15th century. It is this statistical model that allows us to feel confident in sharing our genealogical findings with others who match our DNA profile.
Of course, in the end, we're all related!
A great deal of scientific and statistical proof could be cited here, but hopefully the reader will accept a summary position as being somewhere between "unlikely and impossible."
For a step-by-step pictorial depiction of the process, click here.
FamilyTreeDNA has a very strict privacy code. Your results will be shared with others only if you sign a consent form.
There are now four levels of DNA testing; the 12-marker, 25-marker, 37-marker and 67-marker tests. We highly recommend the donor take either the 25-, 37- or 67-marker test. The 12-marker test is valid only for eliminating possible relationships; it cannot be used to establish positive relationships in a meaningful manner.
Our group pricing (as of November 1, 2007; subject to change) for the 12, 25 and 37 marker DNA test is $99, $148, $189 and $269, respectively. FTDNA will accept checks, money orders or credit cards. The cost is charged to the individual only upon the return of the samples to FTDNA.
Click here to go to the FTDNA website for the Overton project. Review the Overton material online to decide if you (Note: the Participant furnishing the DNA sample MUST be a non-adopted male with the surname of Overton, or derivative thereof!) want to participate, then click on the "Request to Join This Group" banner on the left side of the page. You will be contacted by one of the Project Administrators and your order will be entered. The kit will be mailed to your home address the next day. Payment will be due only upon your return of the kit to FamilyTreeDNA in Houston, Texas.
If, after reading the above on DNA you still have questions, you may want to try the Frequently Asked Questions page at the FamilyTreeDNA website. The reader may also wish to visit the WorldFamilies.net website which has some excellent information on DNA testing and Genealogy.
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