About the Geneabrarian

My Photo

Wired up and ready to go, I don't sit still for long! 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

DNA Update: Haplogroup H1e

As mentioned in the previous blog post, my husband's mtDNA classified him in haplogroup H.  Since then, his mtDNA Full Sequence has been classified as H1e.  This is a subclade of haplogroup H1.  Not much is known yet about H1e, but you can take a look at the haplogroup tree on SNPedia by clicking here.

By the way, SNPedia is a great tool to use for haplotype trees and information and DNA.  Its a good bookmark to have!

The Jewish heritage noted in the mtDNA Full Sequence and DNA matches to others in the Family Tree DNA database also provided some clues.  As noted before, some of the matches came from Poland, Morocco, France, Czech Republic, Bohemia, and Iraq.  The highest matches came from France (Alsace and Ashkenazi) with 14.6% and Morocco (Sephardic) with 17.6%.  One of the exact matches was from the Czech Republic (Ashkenazi).  In searching for explanations about such a wide dispersal of matches, I found an article Counting the Founders: The Matrilineal Genetic Ancestry of the Jewish Diaspora by a multitude of authors at PLOS One (an open access article database for science).  Page 4 of the article details the lineage of Moroccan Jews through H1e and H4a1a, which are themselves two distinct subclades of the H haplogroup.  The H1e subclade is specific to Morocco and Northern Africa.  The article further explains much of the Jewish diaspora using genetics to trace the different Jewish groups.  So it would seem according to his mtDNA that his ancestors migrated from Morocco (Sephardic) to Europe.  Since one of his exact mtDNA Full Sequence matches reported Ashkenazi heritage in the Czech Republic, there may be more to the story yet to be uncovered. 

More to come......

Monday, December 5, 2011

mtDNA revelation of Jewish ancestry

Genetic testing for genealogy has really revolutionized how researchers can back up documentation with hard science.  The two really go hand in hand as a DNA test can only tell a person a limited amount of relationships and records can provide a more rounded family narrative that DNA cannot.  But sometimes testing can reveal things that are very surprising!  Any hint in tracing ancestry is a bonus and surprises can be the most helpful of all. 

Mitochondrial DNA
Recently, I had my husband's mitochondrial DNA tested to see if it would reveal the Native American ancestry that was always claimed.  Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA for short) is passed down through the maternal line from mother to offspring so while women continuously give their mtDNA to sons and daughters, only daughters can then give the mtDNA to their children.  How helpful to have a tracking device recorded in each of us to trace particular lines.

Family Tree DNA
We chose Family Tree DNA located in Houston, Texas as the lab to test with.  This was due to the quality of the lab and the amount of information that is provided along with some great customer service by support staff.  It also happens to have one of the largest databases of DNA testers that allow for others to contact them if there is a match.  This proved extremely helpful when the results of my husband's DNA test were revealed.

The test we chose was the mtFull Sequence so we could find out the most about the mtDNA.  This test can define relationships with others within 16 generations

Kramer Family Lore
My husbands maternal great grandmother died very young and not much was discussed by the family.  In fact, this side of the family was rarely mentioned.  There are a few remaining pictures of Dora Ellen Noel.  What we had been told was that there was Native American on that side of the family, but could not prove it through paper.  Little did we know that her mtDNA left a lasting legacy that remained hidden for about 80 years.

Dora Ellen Noel

Wow!  Once the results of the DNA test were back, there were two exact matches of the full sequence of mitochondrial DNA.  Along with the results was a list of matches by country and SURPRISE!  Also with the matches by country were notes of Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews.  These are two Jewish groups that my husband's mtDNA matches.  Our first thought was WHAT?  And then, this is really cool!  Then we thought that the Jewish ancestors must have been a long time ago since no one in my huband's family knew about it.

We contacted one of the exact matches for the full sequence.  The most recent common ancestor was 5 generations ago, so we did not think we would be able to find out much more.  One of the questions we asked is if he had any more details about the Jewish background.  Yes he did!  His grandmother was Jewish, but hid it all her life and he did not know until she passed away.  After her death, he was going through her things and found Jewish tablecloths, jewelry, and shawls.  His grandmother died in the 1960s, so this places the Jewish ancestry within the past 3 generations.  80 years of a secret revealed!

My husbands mtDNA haplogroup is haplogroup H.  This is the oldest mtDNA haplogroup, so I really can call him the old man!  Countries with significant matches to his DNA are Poland, Morocco, France, Croatia, Czech Republic, Bohemia, and Iraq.  What an interesting mix!  And why Morocco or Iraq?  Remember, in the middle ages the centers of the Muslim worlds were also the centers of the Jewish worlds.  Not only can DNA testing help with lineage and migration, but it can also give an important history lesson to put it all in context.

On to the next....
Finding out the details of your genetics can be quite helpful and surprising.  While my husbands DNA test revealed previously unknown Jewish ancestry, we have not looked into any records to verify it yet.  However, that is the next step!