Sunday, October 24, 2021

The Ever-Expanding DNA To-Do List


DNA testing has become a game-changer for those of us grappling with brick wall ancestors in our family trees. And as more researchers experiment with ways to manipulate that DNA data, it benefits all of us with tools to help unlock some ancestral puzzles.

If you have recently visited GEDmatch—or read Roberta Estes' recent post on the changes there—you know that GEDmatch has recently added an AutoSegment Triangulation Cluster Tool. DNA may be a powerful tool for building our family trees, but it requires us to know how to coax it to reveal those genetic secrets. Tools such as this set developed by Evert-Jan Blom of Genetic Affairs can be a game changer.

Like so many others, though, my DNA to-do list includes plowing through the thousands of matches I've accumulated at the five companies at which I've tested—and at which I've had family members test, as well. Let's just say that alone has kept me quite busy.

Admittedly, starting out, my initial response to viewing those thousands of names of matches was, "Who are all these people?" But like those dominoes lined up in a queue, with the slightest push, the rest of them eventually come tumbling down. The more matches I can link to my tree, the more their "shared" matches at Ancestry DNA follow suit.

Just that simple process of confirming just one match, then seeking "shared" relatives and working through the record-keeping update has kept me quite busy. Of course, the advanced work of building out my working tree to include descendants to the level of fourth cousin has also streamlined the process.

Still, it has been interesting to spot those distant cousins with whom I share only one segment—and a segment of a decent size—and know there is only one ancestral couple who could possibly have been responsible for the nexus. Those are the ones whom I'd like to paint onto my records at DNA Painter and, now, analyze through the new tools at GEDmatch. 

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