09 October 2009

FTDNA full mtDNA or 23andMe test

It had to happen. The price of DNA testing has been dropping as technology improves.

Now Family Tree DNA, www.familytreedna.com, the leader for many years in DNA tests for genealogy, are reducing their prices for their Full Mitochondria test. I'm tempted, but have also been thinking about getting a test through 23andMe.

Here's part of the message sent to existing clients by FTDNA:

"As you know, this (Full Mitochondria) test has continually dropped in price from its initial introduction at $895 in 2005. These price decreases were related to volume and workflow, translating productivity into economies of scale that allowed us to reduce prices to those customers interested in testing their full mitochondrial sequence.

Now Family Tree DNA is doing it again, but this time we are going to take advantage of new technology that will allow us to run more samples in less time, and the savings are substantial. We expect that this price decrease will hearken a new era of Full Mitochondria Testing for the entire Genealogy community!

We will jumpstart this new era of complete mtDNA testing with an aggressive price in order to build the comparative database to the levels that genetic genealogists will be able to use to answer precise ancestral and geographic questions.

So now on to the news that you've been waiting for. A new price for the full mtDNA test will be introduced in November but until then we are offering our current customers a promotional price through October 31st, 2009:

$179 (was $410) for those who have already tested up to HVR2 (the order item is HVR2 to MEGA)

$199 (was $420) for those who have already tested HVR1 (the order item is HVR1 to MEGA)"

What's the benefit you get with a Full Mitochondria test? According to the FTDNA FAQ:

- to determine the most extended haplogroup assignment according to currently published research, including the ability to refine the haplogroup assignment further as more research is published without the need for further testing.
- to identify whether a relationship is likely to be close or distant.
- to have the full sequence available to compare with research, to include in research, and to eliminate the need to perform additional mtDNA testing on the sample.

Remember, the information in mtDNA is strictly about the maternal line - mother's mother's mother's .... mother.

Now for 23andMe. Their analysis covers about 500,000 locations across all your DNA. That includes 2,000 of the 16,000+ mtDNA locations.

The recent news from them that attracted my attention is mentioned in a recent post by Blaine Bettinger, who blogs as the Genetic Genealogist. See the full posting at www.thegeneticgenealogist.com/2009/10/04/a-new-tool-for-genetic-genealogists-23andmes-relative-finder/. Of particular interest for the genealogist is 23andMe's new Relative Finder (in beta) which compares your autosomal SNP results to the results of others in the 23andMe database to determine matches. They claim that for more than 5000 individuals with European ancestry, 90% had at least one distant relative between 2nd and 8th degree cousins!

You also get the medical risk information described at www.23andme.com as part of the test result.

The 23andMe test costs $399US plus shipping - the price for a while now. Will it too come down?

I don't have discretionary funds to take both tests, but know which way I'm leaning.

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