Sunday, January 14, 2018

DNA Chromosome Mapping

Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the San Diego Genealogical Society’s annual January seminar with Blaine Bettinger as the presenter.  Blaine is an great speaker!  He is able to put genetic genealogy into terms that make it a lot easier for most of us to follow and he makes it very interesting.  He is enjoyable to listen to.  Blaine presented the following 4 topics:
  • Introduction to DNA and Genetic Genealogy
  • Using Autosomal DNA for 18th and 19th Century Mysteries
  • Using Third-Party Tools to Analyze Your atDNA
  • Phasing and Mapping Your DNA
Blaine Bettinger conference 01132018
We realized as we were having our picture taken that we are all fellow Bloggers.

People purchase DNA kits for a variety of reasons.  Some are mainly checking to verify or learn their ethnic heritage.  Some people who were adopted are looking for possible connections to determine who their ‘birth’ parents may have been.  Some are using DNA to find cousins and answers to our brick walls.

I have done my own DNA testing and asked several members of my family to help me by being tested also.  I have done the testing for a variety of the above reasons.  I was pretty sure of my ethnic heritage but wanted to see if the DNA backed it up.  (see post How do my Known Ancestral Places of Birth Correspond to My DNA Results?)  I also wanted to look for cousins I had lost track of or new ones I didn’t know existed.  We knew very little of my maternal grandfather’s family and I thought DNA might help, which it has.  I also hope that DNA will help me break some brick walls in my paper research.

I was particularly inspired by Blaine’s last presentation of the day - Phasing and Mapping Your DNA.  I have read and attended several days of conference sessions on DNA.  One of the issues I struggle with is how to maintain and display the information I have in a way that allows me to make good guesses as to how I might be related to someone I ‘match’ as I start to back it up with a family tree paper trail.  I wanted to start working on which sections of my chromosomes are from which part of my ancestral tree.  This is called Visual Phasing.  Blaine used a program called DNApainter to show us an example of this.  So, I decided to see what I could do with my own family tree:
(Click on image to enlarge)
Debby Chromosome mapping 01142018
On each chromosome above there are 2 lines.  The top line contains the areas of DNA I match to my father and my paternal line.  The bottom line contains the areas of DNA I match to my mother and my maternal line.  The key is nicely color coded to help see the segments we share in common.  I am in the process of getting my brother and sister tested.  When their results come back it will be interesting to look at the 3 of us to see who gets which sections from which parent and where there is overlap.

DNA painter was a relatively easy program to use if you have tested on Family Tree DNA or if you have uploaded your results to GedMatch (great third party free website).  I would highly recommend it if you are trying to ‘see’ the areas of chromosomes you have from which branch of your family tree.  If you use DNApainter and have suggestions I would like to hear them.

Thank-you to Blaine Bettinger for yet another great conference!  I look forward to hearing him again at the Southern California Genealogy Jamboree in Burbank, CA in June.  Blaine also has 2 great books on genetic genealogy if you are interested in learning more.

Now what I need to do is ask some of my 3rd and 4th cousins if they would be interested in being tested.  I also need to ask my cousins who have tested on Ancestry if they would be interested in uploading their results to GedMatch so I can map their results.  So cousins…what do you think?

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.
Enjoy the journey,


  1. Thank you! I just got my DNA results from Ancestry and I had no idea what to do with them. I didn't even know to download my raw results.

  2. Good job - and good luck with adding more color to your chart. Are those your grandparents or great-grands on the chart legend?

  3. Thanks Randy! Great question- one set of grandparents, great grandparents and 2 gg grandparents-maternal and paternal. Now I have a better idea of who to test also.

  4. Thank you for sharing. I’m looking forward to trying DNA Painter.

    1. Thank-you for reading about my journey. Let me know how you like DNA Painter.

  5. One small correction. There is a difference between Visual Phasing and the chromosome painting that you can easily achieve with DNA Painter. Visual Phasing is much more difficult to do and normally requires three siblings to have been tested although one can do it with two siblings and cousins. The end result of Visual Phasing is to show for each sibling which DNA segments came from each of the four grandparents.

    1. Thank-you for the correction. I just had both of my siblings tested and we are waiting for the results. I thought about looking at their DNA, my parents and my son's. Should be interesting to see.

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