Genes R Us — Surprises in paternal lineage through Y-DNA haplogroups

Genes R Us — Surprises in paternal lineage through Y-DNA haplogroups

Posted: Wednesday, October 24, 2012 8:02 pm

With cheap DNA-testing, genealogy has entered the scientific era. Just as there are times when scientists have to admit the data does not support their cherished hypothesis, a thorough scientific genealogist may have to report that the ancestry records do not jive with our client’s DNA.
In other words, someone may not be descended from that parent, or grandparent, or someone much further back — as was previously assumed. Perhaps this is due to an undocumented adoption somewhere along the line.
First learning of a DNA discrepancy in one’s direct family line can be unwelcome news for a male, especially when that broken ancestral line occurs in is his surname or direct paternal line.
We invest much in our family traditions and heritage. Most of you grew up believing you knew who your biological parents were or who your grandparents were, and so on. You may have taken for granted that confident unspoken biological connection or blood tie in your family.
My adoptive parents were up front with me from my earliest memories about my “grafting” onto their family trees. I found my biological relatives in my mid-30s. Many years later DNA analysis would prove that I had indeed found my biological parents.
During the summer of 2011, I found a DNA-verified 3rd-cousin on 23andme.com with an important Acadian surname. This surname belonged to one of the key patriarchs of the French Acadians settlers in the New World. Moreover, that last name was shared by one of my favorite male classmates in the small town in which I grew up in Washington State.
I contacted my classmate with the exciting news that we may be cousins. Growing up, my classmate was taught to treasure the rich historical past of his paternal Acadian forbearers by his now-deceased father. “Evangeline” was required reading in his household. (http://bit.ly/1AqMq4)
He enthusiastically submitted a sample for DNA testing to 23andme so that we could verify our “cousinship.” The DNA testing company managed to lose his sample. Two months later, he submitted yet another sample. Finally after another several months his DNA results were in.
Talk about a letdown for both of us, we had no shared segments of DNA. This is virtually impossible if we shared roots in the Acadian founder population, so characterized by intermarriage. How could this be? The answer would prove to be a bit unsettling for my classmate.
Typically a male carries the surname of his direct paternal genetic line. With past immigrations sometimes the surname was changed or the spelling was modified — but there is usually a trail. The biological ancestry and the legal paternal line are identical unless the male was given up for adoption or was given his mother’s surname, typically for out-of-wedlock births.
It is easy to verify paternal kinship genetically. A bit of DNA on the Y chromosome is passed father to son, pretty much invariant, over tens of thousands of years. It is called the Y-DNA haplogroup. All the men directly descended from one another have the same Y-DNA haplogroup. Most men of Western European ancestry, for example, have the R1b1b2 haplogroup.
The Y-DNA haplogroup of the man responsible for classmate’s surname is publically available due the Acadian patriarch’s historical significance. The patriarch belongs to the E1b1b1 haplogroup, which expanded from the Near East some 8,000 years ago. It is the second most common haplogroup of for Jewish men worldwide, and among Sephardic Jews it is the most common at 30 percent.
The E1b1b1 haplogroup of this Acadian patriarch matches that of my DNA-verified 3rd-cousin with that same surname. It also matches another individual, located through ancestry.com, with this same surname that has also performed DNA testing of his Y-DNA haplogroup.
Sadly, it does not match the Y-DNA haplogroup of my classmate sharing that same surname. My classmate’s Y-DNA haplogroup is the R1b1b2, haplogroup, as is my father and my husband’s father. My classmate is unaware of any adoptions or out of wedlock direct paternal ancestors. Thus he expected to have the same Y-DNA haplogroup as the family paternal patriarch.
It appears that my classmate’s direct paternal line was somehow “interrupted.”
Who could have imagined it was going to be so technically and financially feasible to discover just who one’s is biologically descended from or even distantly related to?
I do wish that things could have turned out differently. I wanted to be my classmate’s cousin. But DNA analysis is not for the timid at heart. DNA does not lie. God made it that way. DNA cannot tell a lie. That can be good news or bad news depending on your perspective.
Nancy@NancyMiller Latimer.com has worked in scientific research and development for 27 years. She blogs at NeuronalBeauty.BlogSpot.com Published in The Messenger 10.24.12

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