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Why upgrade to Y-DNA111?

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  • Why upgrade to Y-DNA111?

    Six years ago, I bought a Y-DNA67 test in hopes of learning anything about my paternal grandfather's father, whose identity is a mystery. The closest matches have been four men at the Y-DNA37 level, each with a genetic distance of four. One has a Y-DNA111 test. At the Y-DNA25 level, I have 23 matches, all with a genetic distance of two, and one man has a Y-DNA111 test. I can't sift by surname because, as I say, we don't know the name of my mysterious paternal great-grandfather. What advantage, if any, would there be in upgrading to Y-DNA111?

  • #2
    To me (and others who are more experienced may disagree with me), the value of the Y-111 test would be when you are trying to determine paternity in a situation where, perhaps your candidates are brothers who lived maybe 6-10 generations ago. In a case like that, if you could compare Y-111 tests between various descendants of the brothers, the test would most likely tell you which line you most likely came from. Or for an adoptee, the closer the matches you can get, the more likely they are to give clues for further research. If you have quite a few matches at the 67 level, the 111 level would weed them out to tell you who is closest. I'm sure others can think of other situations where it would be useful as well.

    However, keep in mind that the markers can change literally at any time. My father and his brother took the 12-marker test years ago when it was new. They had a mismatch on one marker. The lab re-ran the test to be sure! So I imagine if they had taken the 111-marker test they'd match on 110 markers. (Autosomal tests have since shown that they are indeed brothers.) But be aware that changes didn't necessarily happen 100-200 years ago!

    The big caveat here, of course, is whether you have matches at that level. However, at the 67 level, you don't have any exact matches yet. If they don't match at the 67 level, they probably aren't going to match any better (very likely more markers different) at the 111 level. My personal opinion is that you probably wouldn't get anything useful immediately with a 111 test. Having said that, though, you don't know who's going to test tomorrow who might be a good match.


    • #3
      I am in the same situation as you are Stennor. I have an unknown father of my paternal grandfather.

      I am wondering if the y-dna37 test would be sufficient to identify anybody out there who is genetically linked to my mystery g-g-father. I am not too interested in going back to earlier generations, although that could be an interesting bonus.

      If I did the y-dna37 test about how many hits could I expect? As the y-dna is largely unchanged over past generations does that mean that there could be thousands of people out there who have the same y-dna as me, my father, my grandfather, and my g grandfather? If I and everybody else in the world has the same y-dna as Adam I am not sure how the results would be of any use in identifying my mystery ancestor.

      Obviously I am a beginner so the above statements are probably wrong, but I would appreciate some guidance on this matter.

      I already have Autosomal DNA results from ftdna but cannot identify any matches related to my mystery g-grandfather.


      • #4
        “..... every other male in the world ....”


        • #5
          BrianG, thanks for posting. I'm far from an expert, but I'll share what I've read.

          Although we do all descend from a common male ancestor who lived in Africa at least 115,000 years ago (see, my understanding is that Y-DNA does recombine over time and through generations, but slowly, (see and also If it didn't change at all, then every man on the planet would have the same Y-DNA, but that's not the case.

          So I infer that the closer your common relative, the more likely you and a male cousin will match perfectly. My best possible scenario would be to match with a man whose father was the son of another son of my mysterious great-grandfather; that man would be a half-second cousin, and I'll guess that our Y-DNA would be identical or very close. Of course, it's possible that Mr. X had no other children or no other sons, and the same possibilities apply to his father, his father's father, and so on. If I find someone with a common ancestor farther back, I suppose that the Y-DNA could have morphed to some extent.

          Of course, the glitch in the Y-DNA hunt is the requirement of an unbroken male line. Each of us must have such a line--that is, each father had a father, etc. etc. The question is how far back one would have to reach in order to intersect with another man's unbroken male line. Bear in mind that if you go back ten generations, you have 1024 ancestors, but only one is that male-line progenitor. So most of your cousins descend from those other 1023 people.

          I don't know my great-grandfather's name, and I gather that you don't either, so we have a handicap in that we can't cull out Y-DNA matches by surname. My hope is that I find a strong match with someone so I can suppose that his surname tells me the surname of my great-grandfather. So far, though, I don't have such a match.

          I don't know the answer to your question about how many hits you could expect from a Y-DNA37 test. I have just four, all with different surnames, all with a genetic distance of 4. I assume that it's a matter of luck with regard to how many other men are in the database.


          • #6
            Thanks Stennor. We have the same "Mr X" situation so your comments are much appreciated. My present thinking is still to get the Y-DNA37 test and see if it identifies anybody of interest. I will let you know what the results are.


            • #7
              Stennor, I always encourage upgrading to higher levels, particularly at sale times. However, in your case, with only 4 matches at GD of 4 at 37 (in other words, barely matches), its hard to say that you will get any immediate benefit from going to 111. If you get 0 at 67, you are not likely to have someone pop up at 111. Although, that can happen. I have a match at 25 that skips 37 and 67 but re-emerges at 111, albeit GD of 9.

              It sounds like your paternal Y ancestors are from some under tested population. If they were British/Irish/Western Euro, I think you would have matches. Sometimes your haplogroup points to a nationality, sometimes not.

              You might want to consider BigY700 and working from that approach. At least you will get a detailed haplotype and you might be able to suggest an origin by looking at your haplotype matches.

              I dont think you are going to get quick answers. But testing at a higher level puts your 'flag' out there for someone to find you, at a future time. So if budget is not an issue, you should get a BigY when on sale, You will also get a further discount for 67 markers.