Tuesday, February 28, 2012

23andMe DNA Results

I’ve hesitated writing a post about my 23andMe.com DNA results until I could understand them better, but then I thought why keep what I do know to myself. Who knows when I’ll get this all figured out. I might as well share some of the results. I’ve told various people bits and pieces of the results, but then I forget what I’ve told to whom.

I’ve been wanting to take a DNA test for a long time for genealogy. I was intrigued by 23andMe’s Ancestry Painting that they do by looking at your 22 biparental chromosomes, called autosomes. I ordered a kit this past December. I even got a promotional discount which paid for the shipping. The kit was shipped out quickly and I received it in just a few days. As soon as it arrived, I did the test and mailed it out a day or so later. Instead of cheek scrapings with a swab, you collect saliva in a plastic tube. (Ok, you spit in a tube. A lot. Not the most pleasant thing to do.) They notified me via email that they received my kit on January 5. It takes 6 to 8 weeks for processing. It took less than 7 weeks, but I was starting to get impatient around week 5. I received my results last week.

My results show that my maternal line is Haplogroup R0 which is 35,000 years old. It includes the regions of the Near East, northern Africa, and Western Eurasia. Populations include Saudi Arabs, Yemeni Jews, and Bedouin. I’m subgroup HV0. I’m 100% European, and according to the Global Similarity, I most closely resemble Norwegians. I’m also close to Orcadians who live in the Orkney Islands off of the northern coast of Scotland.

I started getting genome-sharing emails from a few people right away. I’ve accepted all of them. I’m ready to find some cousins and maybe solve some ancestor mysteries! I’ve sent only a few invitations so far to share genomes, but I’ll keep working through the list of 966 relatives until I’ve invited all of them. I’m sure not everyone will respond, and some probably won’t.

One of the people that I sent an invitation to emailed me back to say I am the closest match in autosomal DNA he has had with someone that he didn’t already know! 23andMe says our predicted relationship is 3rd cousin which means we probably share great, great grandparents. We’ve exchanged emails and ancestors. We are intrigued by our close match. I’m going to ask my mother to take a DNA test so I can see on which side this cousin and I are related. (Hi Mom! Will you take a DNA test for me, please? I’ll order the kit.) That will narrow down whether this match is on my maternal or paternal side. 

The 23andMe blog has a few posts that explain several ways to explore your test results. I found these very helpful as I felt lost at first. I’ve learned from some of my newly found cousins, too.

In filing out ones profile, 23andMe asks you to list your surnames. This is helpful, too, in figuring out how you are related to someone. I’ve listed many of my surnames but not all. I even noted the full name of my earliest American Pendleton ancestor plus the full names of a few other ancestors. One of my newly found cousins and I discovered we are related through two different lines on my paternal side. One line goes back to a 6th great grandparent that we both share, and the other does back to a 4th great grandparent that we share. How cool is that?

I’ll keep you posted, especially if this helps solve any family mysteries!



  1. I love DNA for genealogy. Isn't it exciting to find cousins and prove a paper trail? Testing your relatives will be very helpful in narrowing down your relatives - but it's addictive! Once you test one person, you want to test just one more...

  2. You are so right Valerie! I've gotten so excited about this! I've already asked my oldest brother to take a test (he said "why not") and I'm hoping my mom will. Then I started thinking "who else can I ask." :) One of my cousins said he might do it and another cousin who's been working on one of our family mysteries is ordering a test today. One of my matches might be the key to the mystery. Love it!

  3. Let's see if I can actually post a comment this time...

    I'm doing DNA genealogy research too but with FTDNA. Your not Orcadian by the way, that's a population misnomer. I was able to send my raw data, and I think FTDNA tests more than 23andMe, but anyway, I sent it off to a Dr. for further analysis and he was dead on for both of my parents. If you can, transfer your results to FTDNA, there is a transfer fee but they have a larger "genealogical" database. 23andMe is mostly geared towards the medical side of the report. You can also 'match' someone but it could be in a timeframe that you're not able to prove on paper. I have predicted 3rd cousins which are actually much further back than that. Some segments of DNA can persist over long periods of time and combine with other bits to make a match seem stronger than it really is. It's a difficult but rewarding process and you can learn a lot from it but it'll eat up just as much of your time as traditional research. Good luck with your 'matches'!!

  4. Catherine PendletonJune 3, 2012 at 12:32 AM

    I still have a lot to learn about DNA. There's so much that I don't understand. I've been thinking about transferring my raw data to FTDNA. I should have done it when they were having a sale--I think at Christmas last year. You're right, this can really eat up time. I spend lots of time on genealogy as it is. Looking into my DNA has been fun and frustrating at the same time!