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Big-Y - any compelling reason for it in my case?

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  • #16
    I think there's very little that Big-Y is going to do for me personally for genealogical research. I've got 4 matches at Y-12 rather than 4000. The Y-STR testing is working effectively. My Y-STR matches haven't taken a Big-Y test so I am not going to get Big-Y matches. I just need more people testing their DNA to really give me usable genealogy data.

    If I could give autosomal familyfinder tests to strategic people, I'd probably learn more relevant genealogy information than the more advanced testing. I've got test results for my parents coming in that I'm hoping will help with some of the unknown FF matches to test that theory.

    The Big-Y test will tell me where I specifically am on the Haplotree and might give me an additional SNP test to determine the age of the match. It's more about genetic anthropology than genealogy at this point. I'm curious and while I don't just like to throw away money, the dollars involved aren't that high to me. I might even authorize all of the tests htb indicated if I catch a sale.

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    • #17
      Originally posted by mlcarson View Post
      My Y-STR matches haven't taken a Big-Y test so I am not going to get Big-Y matches.
      Not necessarily true (depending on how you define a "match"). Your lack of Y-STR matches means you won't see anything very close which you can use for genealogy, but you might still get a relatively close Big-Y match which leads to interesting discoveries. My cousin who was used as the Big-Y guinea pig for my paternal line (it was politically easier to collect donations towards testing "Great Uncle Doug") has a sequence of 8 "novel variants" shared with another guy which has now defined a new branch in the haplotree.



      If I could give autosomal familyfinder tests to strategic people, I'd probably learn more relevant genealogy information than the more advanced testing.
      I definitely recommend this. If you're lucky, some of your other family members might get curious about DNA testing when they hear what's going on and will pay for their own tests.

      Who to test and who to prioritise depends a lot on how much living family you're in contact with. There's a general consensus to target the oldest generation of relatives first, both because they have twice the relevant DNA that their offspring have and because they might no longer be alive in a few years. But the younger generations are generally less wary of technology and easier to convince to take a DNA test. And once they've tested they sometimes get the "bug" and persuade their parents to test!

      As for cousins (either in your generation or your parents'), first cousins obviously share most DNA, but they can only narrow matches down to a pair of shared grandparents. Second cousins share less DNA, but they narrow matches down to a specific grandparent on your side. Third cousins will narrow shared matches down even further, but you start running the risk of sharing little or no DNA with 3rd cousins and beyond.

      If you have living uncles or aunts, all of their DNA matches will be relevant to you. About half will be the same as your parent's matches (you mentioned that they have been tested), but the other half will be different. That means that they will also have different matches to any 2nd or 3rd cousins you've tested.

      Testing a second aunt or uncle on the same side has a reduced benefit in terms of the percentage, but it's something you should rush to do if either of your parents has two living siblings. When three or more siblings have been tested you can use techniques called "visual phasing" and "chromosome mapping" to determine who inherited which segments of DNA from which of their four grandparents.

      It's incredibly useful. I did it for myself and two siblings (our parents are deceased) and it's great that almost every DNA match any one of us gets can be assigned to one of our grandparents. Our grandparents had ancestry from different regions of England, Wales and Ireland so it really increases the chances of find a common ancestor relatively easy.

      I love the technique so much that I was instrumental in getting some of my father's Canadian cousins (three siblings) to test. Their paternal grandfather, Harry, was my great-grandfather's brother. Anyone who matches Harry's DNA is my cousin, even if I don't share DNA with them. I only share between 50 and 120 cM with these Canadian cousins, but the chromosome map means that nearly 2000cM of their respective DNA is directly useful to my genealogy. That's a huge amount of value from some relatively cheap FF tests (which I didn't even need to pay for!).

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      • #18
        Big Y and Family Finder tests give you different (and potentially useful) views of your ancestry.

        Big Y of course pertains only to your patrilineal line, but even if there are no close matches (my situation), at least it may be possible to RULE OUT a direct connection with anyone else having your surname who has taken the Big Y test. For my patrilineal McCoy family, that proved to be very useful. I can ignore all of the other McCoy families who have tested! Sometimes genetic tests can be extremely useful in ruling out possibilities, and that fact can help you focus your genealogical research.

        Making sense of Family Finder results can be very difficult, but it becomes much more productive if you can also test some close relatives on one or both sides of your family. The main drawback is that very few people take the trouble to post their pedigrees, which ideally should go back at least to the generation born before 1800. I find the tools on the free GEDmatch site to be far more useful (and usable) than those on the FTDNA site, so I have transferred all of the kits I managed to GEDmatch and work almost exclusively there. The ability to analyze matches in all combinations, thus enabling the construction of real triangulation groups, was decisive for me.

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        • #19
          Well, ordered Big-Y today since it went on sale. Also purchased the mtFull sequence for the same reason. The only thing left is the Y67-Y111 upgrade which isn't on sale and doesn't have a lot of appeal since my match pool is so small.

          My parents have FF results. My mother's maternal first cousin on her maternal side has been tested and now I'm trying to get a cousin on her paternal side tested.

          Looking forward to see what the Big-Y results might be.

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          • #20
            Another reason for Big Y

            I chose Big Y over SNP Backbone and 111 because my dad passed away a couple of weeks ago and I felt that I would rather have the most thorough test available at this time just in case his DNA would be used up. I also upgraded to mtFull.

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