Genetic Tests and Testing Services That Are Acceptable to Team Liddell et al

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d Team Liddell et al    c

“No Longer Separated by Oceans and Centuries”

Genetic Tests and Testing Services

That Are Acceptable to Team Liddell et al

By James W. Liddell (Dec 2004)            

The Team Liddell et al DNA/mtDNA Study

            Team Liddell et al accepts into the Team et al DNA/mtDNA Study only the Y-DNA/37-Marker test for males and the mtDNAPlus test for females, plus any subsequent test-result refinement tests that are marketed by the FamilyTreeDNA corporation. This has been the Team’s stated policy since the launch of the Team et al Study, its first, on 15Oct04.

 The Liddesdale DNA/mtDNA Study

            In May 2005, the Team opened its Liddesdale DNA/mtDNA Study. This new Study is designed for the residents of all non-USA nations and offers both the top-level tests from FTNDA and also the company's least-costly ones--the 12-marker basic DNA test for males and the basic mtDNA test for females. This Study and its offering of the least-costly tests was approved by a unanimous vote by the Study participants in the original Study--all Americans--who, because of their nationality and the then-prevailing Team rules, had purchased the most expensive tests. The lowest-cost tests are now offered in the Liddesdale Study as an accommodation to the Team members and interested public whose incomes might have difficulties with the top-level tests.

 General to both Studies

            The Team also accepts the outcome of any FTDNA conversion process involving the test results reported by other companies. Please see the FTDNA opening page for guidance to a text explaining this matter. An exception to this rule is possible if another company uses the same Y-DNA markers or mtDNA testing procedures throughout its testing processes as those used by FTDNA. (See the Conclusion remarks at the end of this essay.)

            But, in the absence of a FTDNA conversion process (or identical marker arrays) under no circumstances will any non-FTDNA tests or the test-results reported by non-FTDNA companies be accepted into the Team's Study--or, even discussed.

            This following essay explains the Team's policy in these matters.

            The Team additionally states here without reservation that neither it nor any of its members derive any benefit, financial or otherwise, from any of its activities and that this includes the two studies and the purchase of test kits from FTDNA.

             There are three principal reasons for our taking this highly exclusionary position in regards to the corporate origin of Genealogy Genetics tests and test results acceptable to our Team.

             REASON ONE: Of all companies currently in the Genealogy Genetics field, only the FamilyTreeDNA corporation is known to have a team of university faculty genetics advising its planning and operations, and overseeing its affairs. Also, a number of academics are actively involved in the company's day-to-day affairs.

            Specifically, this is the University of Arizona, which has world-class genetics scholars on its faculty who are noted for research excellence in their respective fields and have published a series of seminal papers in this rapidly developing science.

             Additionally, our Team's experience with FTDNA to date--now in its fourth month at this writing--firmly has demonstrated to us that this company's personnel are highly professional and attentive to our needs, and are immediately responsive even at the senior executive level to requests for information or test-kit purchase arrangements by any of our members on an individual, personal basis.

            In short, FTDNA is as much an academic activity that involves an educational service as it is a commercial Genealogy Genetics testing enterprise with a strong customer awareness.

            Additionally (and added since the original drafting of this essay, FTNDA has been selected by the National Geographic Society to provide the testing kits, genetic arrays, and testing laboratories for its own five-year "Origins of Mankind" Genographic Study. Since NGS had a choice of all the testing services available in the world and it decided on using FTDNA, the Team feels totally justified in its own choosing of FTDNA.

                                                >> Team Liddell et al is confident that it made the correct decision in its choice of testing services.

             REASON TWO: Our Team is dedicated to providing the best currently available genetic information on its Study's test participants to its members and their descendants, and to others interested in our respective genetic histories to the fullest extent possible under law, and under conditions which permit the participants in our Study, during their own lifetimes, to continue to benefit from the rapid advances in this new science following their initial testing. 

             This policy forms the framework supporting our decision to use in the Team Study only the Y-DNA/37-Marker test for males and its equivalent, the mtDNAPlus test for females--both terms being those used by FamilyTreeDNA--plus any refinement or conversion tests which can be ordered from this company for the Team Study, and the same tests as well as the lowest-cost ones for each gender also available from FTNDA for the Liddesdale Study.

             Note, please, that this discussion is modified slightly by the use of the more limited-capability of the basic 12-marker Y-DNA test and the basic mtDNA test for females. Even here, though, the Team adheres to its rule that those of FTDNA are acceptable.

             Since the 37 and Plus tests are the most expensive (and also the most thorough) tests offered by FTDNA, it is necessary at this point to provide some background on genetics in order to explain the Team's decision. (Note also that the Team enjoys a 20 percent discount off retail because of its group rate.)

             The male Y-chromosome has 45 markers (Some companies currently are offering a 45-marker test for males although FTDNA is not among them). But, only the first 37 markers have genealogical value since it is now known that the last eight markers either apparently do not mutate except at extremely slow rates or else, have mutation characteristics that have no known worth in Genealogy Genetics. Please note that many of the Y markers mutate at slightly different rates. DYS 385a and DYS385b, for example, are noted for "rapid" mutations, although this remains on the scale of hundreds of years for each random, minor occurrence. The Team provides a list of the 12 most rapidly mutating markers at this website.

             The first 37 markers on the Y-DNA chromosome fall into three groups: 1-12 which inform about a male's Deep Ancestry (up to 2,000 years ago and more, and sometimes up to 50,000 years ago in the general sense of some ancient ethnic group) and which are scientifically well understood, 13-25 which inform about the individual's familial kinships occurring between the Deep Ancestry period and the current generation and which are scientifically well understood, and 25-37 which also relate to the closer-in-time kinships and are nearly as well understood today as 13-25. This third group, however, still has a small number of mutation rates currently undergoing refinement investigations in laboratories. Despite this relatively minor qualification, most of the 26-37 markers mutation rates already are at least usefully approximated.

             Research will continue to bring markers 26-37 to full use alongside markers 1-12 and 13-25, and this entire matter of the various mutation rates is expected to be fully resolved most likely within the next five to ten years (2005 to 2014). And as this happens, FTDNA will update each test score and report this to the individuals affected. Thus, Team Liddell et al regards these top-level tests to be investments in the future that will continuing paying dividends to its studies' participants for many years to come.

             Thus, each Team Liddell et al Study participant's current Y-DNA/37-Marker test will continue to grow in accuracy and value during 2005-2014--which is not the case with the less powerful Y-DNA/25-Marker test which is already being supplanted by the 37-marker test through ever-advancing lab work, except where cost considerations are unusually important (There is only a roughly US$60 difference between the two).

             To better understanding the "conditional statements" stated above, please remember that the rapidly-developing science of Genealogy Genetics did not exist prior to 2000 and is still an emerging scientific discipline. A little ongoing "tidying-up" is to be expected for a while longer. (The first confirmed Y mutation rates were presented in the Kayser 2000 [Max Planck Instutue, Berlin Germany] academic paper.)

             The emerging importance of the 37-marker test was a process that the Team found to already be under way when we first began examining this new area of genealogy in late 2003. This discovery underlies the Team's September 2004 decision to seize the future by selecting the 37-marker test now and to refuse the smaller-scope tests, and to simply let developments come to us for free as the lab work progresses on markers 26-37 in particular.

             (Whenever something is resolved in these few remaining areas, the test results for each FTDNA Study participant will be automatically updated and the participants notified by the company.)

             The mtDNAPlus test for the female X-chromosome (mitochondria) is already fully developed. This is the test-equivalent of the Y-DNA/37-Marker test used for the male Y-chromosome.

             Finally, the Team believes that it is important that FTDNA's testing labs at the U of Arizona maintain the samples of all test participants for 25 years under proper storage conditions and available for additional testing even by the members' heirs. (Proper executor powers should be set up in participants' wills to handle this.) No other company is known to provide a storage service.

             All of the above facts also are applicable to the least-costly tests available from FTDNA except that the lower-cost ones by their very nature provide only basic indications for genealogists--a 'yes/no" reading for possible kinships and the indication of a haplogroup (the ancient origin) for each individual. (See related essays at this site for an expansion on these facts.)

                                     >> Team Liddell et al is confident that it made the correct decision in its choice of testing services.

             REASON THREE: The Team bases its refusal to neither accept nor discuss the genealogy-genetics test results from companies other than FTDNA on a known lack of compatibility between the various FTDNA and non-FTDNA tests, and also because of past questionable conduct by one or more non-FTDNA companies. 

             The Team first notes here that it is not aware that any two companies have selected the same array of markers or the same as FTDNA has for use in its own Y-DNA tests (and as an aside, the Team notes that many of FTDNA's competitors do not offer any type of mtDNA tests for females at all).

             As an example, please view the different marker arrays selected by FTDNA (Houston TX), GeneTree/Relative Genetics (both are associated with the Mormon Church in Utah) and Oxford Ancestors (based in the United Kingdom). These are listed in our essay at the "Genetics Made Easy" button at this website: These three arrays are set out in parallel columns in a chart about one-third into the essay, and it is very easy to see that there is no commonality among the companies. Therefore, since their contract laboratories are testing different marker arrays, their test results accordingly are incompatible. To make a comparison of their test results is analyous to attempting to use a Buick repair manual to fix the brakes on a Mercedes.

             The chart just referenced above was taken from a footnote on the sixth and seventh pages of the peer-reviewed and academic-journal-published "Butler (NIST) 2003" science paper which text is available in full in the reference material section at (NIST=National Institute of Standards and Technology [Maryland USA])

             Note also in the "Genetics Made Easy" chart that as of 2003, GT/RG used letters of the alphabet to identify some markers. Since all markers have scientific labels--which are NOT individual letters of the alphabet--the use of letters to label markers is unacceptable to the Team. One important Team reason is that this GT/RG usage of letters as marker labels is a questionable practice because, except for the GT/RG insiders, no one knows which markers are represented by these letters, or if the ones being used in a current test are the same as those used in an earlier test.

             There is also a question about the various choices of marker arrays. Based on the expert advice available to the company from its University of Arizona faculty advisors and who also serve on its board of directors and operations staff, it becomes obvious that the FTDNA marker selection is the only rational and scientifically efficient Genealogy Genetics array among those shown in the chart. The unspoken implication here is that this is also true of the current marketplace in general since the three companies, combined, possess nearly all of the Genealogy Genetics market, since FTDNA, alone, has about 90 percent of it.

             Team Liddell et al especially notes that FTDNA has some 90 percent of the testing market, the company uses scientific nomenclature to clearly identify all of its markers, the company has close ties to a major public university and its faculty currently active in this field, and the company conducts its affairs in a completely open manner. Furthermore, FTDNA was chosen during late-May 2005 to provide the scientific support to the five-year National Geographic Society's "Origins of Mankind" Genographics Study. The Team believes that these points taken together is a solid indication that the company is trustworthy in its presentments to the public and throughout its testing activities.

             Additionally, the Team very recently was informed by very well-placed and reliable industrial sources that no one, other than executives, fully knows which markers were used by that company while it attempted to enter the genealogy-testing market a few years ago since some of its marker selection also were identified only by letters of the alphabet and not by their scientific labels. This left the door open, as is the case for GT/RC, for that company-- whenever it wished--to change the markers disguised by the alphabet labels without revealing that changes had occurred to, say, past customers, and to leave considerable doubt about inter-corporate compatibility of testing results both in the present and in the future.

             In short, as of 2003 when the Butler (NIST) paper was published, not only did GT/RG use a marker array significantly different from those used by FTDNA but GT/RG also didn't tell customers what some the markers were, and, like, was in a position to easily change the markers in the future with no one other than the company's executives being any the wiser.

             A current example of the lack of compatibility among companies is shown in one document in the on-line genealogy files of and its subsidiary (which these companies present as being worthwhile information). Of the nine markers used in  about half of the charts in an extended discussion of the J haplogroup as reported by FTDNA, only four are used by FTDNA in its marker array and in several instances, only two of the nine are common to both marker arrays. Any attempt to use that file to analyze FTDNA test-results will be based on two incompatible arrays of marker selections--those used by FTDNA in its tests and by A-R in its file--and the attempted analysis will, by definition, not produce anything of much value.

             FTDNA, which recently provided its testing services under contract to one of its competitors, has informed Team Liddell et al that during that relationship the staff of the competitor frequently either lost completed test kits, reported the test participants' identities incorrectly to FTDNA's labs, or erronously and repeatedly issued the test results for one customer to some other customer. This company has since left the market but based on that FTDNA statement, the Team believes that some of that company's past customers are unknowingly using worthless test results in their genealogy activities. These outcomes probably are still being posted to the Web or offered to our members for comparisons.

             The same executive states that yet another company briefly attempted to market a Genealogy Genetic testing service while out-sourcing its lab work to a paternity-DNA processing center, a procedure which produces test results with no value whatsoever for genealogical purposes. That company's executives clearly did not understand Genealogy Genetics or else, were employing a stop-gap measure while selling their services to the public at the same time they were searching for a properly equipped lab.

            One other company listed above by name remains to be discussed.

            The Oxford Ancestors company specializes only in Deep Ancestry testing, but as of the 2003 Butler (NIST) paper's publication date, it used only 11 markers of the full 12 that are  necessary for this purpose according to FTDNA. Thus, Butler 2000 (NIST) indicates that not only was the company not using all of the markers necessary, according to FTDNA, to examine this limited area of Genealogy Genetics, but the use of only 11 markers effectively denied its customers access to all the scientific information which otherwise could be available to them. As with the GeneTree/Relative Genetics and the old tests, these OA's test results are likely to be non-compatible with FTDNA's test results because FTDNA uses the entire first 12 markers array on the Y-chromosome in its Deep Ancestry test.

            A slightly less-resolvant FTDNA Deep Ancestry test (the first 12 markers only) automatically is included in its Y-DNA/37 Marker test and this normally fulfills each test participant's informational requirements. Whenever a question arises concerning the 1-12 markers during a 37-Marker test's lab work, FTDNA advises the affected study participant to order a "refining" Y-DNA 12-Marker test (at a 35 percent discounted price) but, regardless of the participant's subsequent decision, the company provides a Deep Ancestry prediction within the full 37-marker lab report which comes close to what can be obtained from the "refining" test.

                                    >>  Team Liddell et al is confident that it made the correct decision in its choice of testing services.       

            Disclaimer: Since Team Liddell et al does not have any fulltime staff and can receive only a limited amount of time from its volunteers, its more active members cannot afford to give any attention to explaining and re-explaining to outsiders the details involved in incompatible marker arrays and testing procedures--and the Team's less-active members should not attempt to get into these issues at all, or even to refer these individuals' test results elsewhere in the Team.       

            This is the Team's recommended course for its members to follow!

             1.) If you are a member of Team Liddell et al and are contacted by anyone who has received test results from a company other than FamilyTreeDNA, the only Team-accepted procedure is to decline to discuss the test comparisons based on the above discussions, and instead, to refer the non-member to this publicly available essay.

             2.) If, after the non-member has read this essay, both of you are still interested in working together in the area of Genealogy Genetics testing (there could be the interest of a common surname, for example), then ask the non-member to test with FTDNA at by going to the Team Liddell et al "project page":

 or, for the Liddesdale "project page":

 and purchasing the appropriate test kit. (The Team will assist in this process as much as possible when asked.)

             An exception to Step Two will be made ONLY if a non-FTDNA company uses the same 37 markers as FTDNA. None are known to do this but the "DYS" marker array is listed in the Y-DNA chart provided at the "DNA" button at this website in case someone wants to check on this.

             3.) OTHERWISE, PLEASE DO NOT--UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES WHATSOEVER--refer non-Team members to other Team members EXCEPT when the non-member has questions about FTDNA, the Team's activities and assets and/or Team membership, or about genealogy research or Genealogy Genetics in general.

             Certainly, Team members are encouraged at all times to compare genealogy charts and engage in other genealogy activities with non-members, but when dealing with non-FTDNA tests or test results, any action by a Team member other than to refer the non-member to this essay will be, in very truth, a total waste of time simply because the results are completely incompatible.

             --Members of the public who are visiting this website and are not previously in contact with a member of Team Liddell et al will receive an answer to any email sent to (if this hotline doesn't work, please cut and paste the address to your browser window). The Team will discuss in its reply your questions about any aspect of FTDNA testing, the Team itself, or genealogy research specific to the Team, its members and the Surnames of Interest listed on the opening screen of this website.

             Again, it is important to remember that Y-DNA or mtDNA tests or their test results that do not originate with FamilyTreeDNA will not be further discussed other than referral to the points raised in this essay unless a marker array that is identical to FTDNA's array is involved.

             Blessings on all who read this far. And "Thank You" for visiting our families' heart.

             --Best wishes!      


          Team Liddell et al

(End of File)

Posted June 2005.

Edited by Jack Wardlaw, Editor-Team Liddell et al

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