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- A Genealogical Sojourn -

DNA Project... under construction

To start with I've copied the text from the old site and cleaned it up a bit. I do not plan to include a chart of results as I had before, rather I will link to the charts on ftdna.com. This way the charts will be up to date and will save me a LOT of time and trouble. I ordered my kit April 1, 2002, almost 10 years ago. Much has changed since then and I've not been involved in the past 4 years. A lot more test options are available now, many of which I'm not sure how to use in our analysis. As I've stated before I am not a geneticists and would appreciate any help or suggestions you might give.

The Tests
For this project we are using a firm called Family Tree DNA which specializes in DNA testing for genealogical and anthropological purposes. Each subject is sent a pair of plastic swabs and asked to collect a cell sample from inside their mouth. The samples and payment are sent to an address in Houston, TX, where they add you to the computer and forward the samples to a lab at the Univ. of AZ. At the laboratory the DNA is isolated for each subject and tested for genetic markers on the Y-chromosome, if that was the test you ordered. The actual testing procedure is complicated; but for each sample short lengths of genetic code that show repeating patterns are identified, along with the number of the 'repeats' found for each marker. The results obtained from each sample are given as a list of numbers; such as my data for the original 12-marker test: 13-24-15-11-11-14-12-12-13-13-13-29. The set of numbers from a person is known as their 'haplotype'. These 'haplotypes' can then be compared; and only close relatives can be expected to have exactly matching 'haplotypes'.

The particular markers selected by Family Tree DNA for their Y-chromosome testing have been chosen as they change (mutate) slowly over many generations. These variations occur because of mutations in the genetic material between a father and son, and these changes are essentially 'random'. It is considered that a change from one number to another, such as a change from '24 to 23' for a particular loci, might occur within a period of, say, 500 years - which roughly is 20 generations. This means that distant relatives can be expected to have similar 'haplotypes' to each other. Please note that it is difficult to say when people are definitely related to each other, either closely or more distantly; and all that can be said it that a relationship is possible.

As stated above the estimated rate of mutational change is estimated to be approximately one change per 500 generations for each of these loci (the locations on the Y chromosome). The original $99 test used 12 different loci, thus it is reasonable to expect a change to occur every 40 or so generations. However, these changes can take place at any time. The 12-marker test was not really refined enough for our purposes, even the 25-marker test wasn't as helpful as had been hoped. Currently you can't order any Y-DNA test that is less than 37 markers, unless you order it in combination with the Family Finder test suite. Here is an example of the issue with the 12-marker test. Four other Middletons matched my haplotype 12 for 12, but nobody matched me 37 for 37. The closest was one matched at 36 out of 37 markers, two were 35 for 37 and the other one was off by 6 markers. As you can see the more markers you test, the more refined the results will be.

The 'haplotype' from a subject can also be compared to samples taken from people in other areas of the world. There are clear differences between Western European patterns, Asian, Native North and South American, and in particular, African. These regional patterns are called 'haplogroups'. Middleton males who believe to be from England or Great Britain have a haplogroup of R1b1a2, based on test results.

Here is a map showing the worldwide distribution of haplogroups based on Y-DNA testing.

Here is a style of map I prefer that show migration of haplogroups based on mtDNA testing.

In both maps you can see that mankind started in Africa and branched out to populate the world. If you like to read, I'd like to suggest James A. Michener's novel "Alaska." The first chapters of the book explains how migration could have happened across the Bearing Strait and down through South America. I will let you do your own additional research to find out more as it is a fascinating subject and one that is surrounded by controversy.

The Results
The results you will find on the ftdna.com website compares individuals to see how closely or distantly they may have shared a common ancestor. Our project has been organized by groups, with a number of "ungrouped" members. I don't know who did the grouping as it must have been done while I was away. I am assuming that the groups are of closely related individuals based on test results. I'll look it over and see if any changes are needed. Here is the Y-DNA Classic chart.


Alleles--One of the different forms of a gene of DNA sequence that can exist at a single locus. Alternatively, one of several alternate forms of a gene occupying a particular location on a chromosome.

Chromosome--Is composed of DNA, which itself is composed of four (4) nucleotides A (adenine); T (thymine); C (cytosine); and G (guanine); Chromosome = thread-shaped structure occurring in cell nucleus, which transmits hereditary characteristics.

DNA--Deoxyribonucleic Acid.

DYS--D = DNA: Y = Chromosome; S = Segment; The DYS numbering scheme (e.g. DYS388, DYS 390) for the Y-STR haplotype loci is controlled and administered by an international standards body called HUGO, Human Gene Nomenclature Committee based at the University College, London.

Gene--The fundamental and functional unit of heredity.

Haplotype--Refers to a single or unique set of chromosomes. A set of closely linked alleles (genes or DNA polymorphisms) inherited as a unit. Different combinations of polymorphisms are known as haplotypes.

Haplogroup--Haplogroups are groupings of individuals with the same genetic characteristic such as restriction enzyme recognition sites or deletions at the same location on the DNA.

Loci--The position that a given gene occupies on a chromosome.

Locus--A specific location on a chromosome.

MH--Modal Haplotype = Any person who matches exactly the alleles found to be most common among the descendants of a person. A person who matches 11 alleles whiile being only one off in only one (1) loci, will be considered to be in the haplogroup, rather than in the family haplotype.

MLE--The Most Likely Estimate of when the MRCA between two people lived.

Modal--The value at which an absolute or maximum occurs in the frequency distribution of the variant.

MRCA--The Most Common Recent Ancestor between two people.

Mutation--Small changes during the DNA copying process during transfer from father to son.

STR--Short Tandem Repeats = A VNTR (see below) in which the repeated sequence is from one (1) to five (5) base pairs.

Y-chromosome--is passed down from generation to generation only through the male line; from father to son, father to son, etc.

VNTR--Variable Number Tandem Repeats. A defined region of DNA containing multiple copies of short sequences of bases, which are repeated a number of times, the number of repeats varying among individuals in the population.

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