This summer, I finally asked my maternal great-aunt (we’ll call her “Victoria”) if she was interested in testing her DNA for me. She agreed, and we sent off a sample of her DNA to Family Tree DNA for mtDNA and atDNA analysis. A few weeks later, the results were back and ready for digging in!
I found a close match that shared 201 cM (including 47 cM on the X chromosome). This close match had a tree, and I immediately found the most likely common ancestor. The shared X-DNA interested me the most, and I decided to review that a little closer.
Mom and My Great-Aunt Victoria
My mother is the daughter of Victoria’s brother. Now, that means that my mother has an exact copy of her father’s X chromosome (daughters receive a copy of their father’s single X chromosome). Any X-DNA that my mother and her aunt Victoria share, is the same X-DNA that her father and Victoria shared.
Here’s the tree:
And here’s the DNA that my mother and Victoria share in common (and thus the DNA that siblings Grandpa and Victoria shared in common):
Now, I also know that since Grandpa inherited only X-DNA from his mother Goldiah Blanchard (males only receive X-DNA from their mother), I know that the X-DNA that Grandpa and Victoria share came from Goldiah Blanchard.
Grandpa and Victoria share almost a full chromosome. It appears that, at a minimum, there were two recombination events that occurred when Goldiah gave an X chromosome to either Grandpa or Goldiah.
Great-Aunt Victoria and her Second Cousin
As I stated, there was a new match that shared 201 cM (including 47 cM on the X chromosome), which appeared to be a second cousin:
Victoria and New Match share this X-DNA:
This X-DNA, therefore, came to them from their shared X-DNA ancestors Wade Tyler (b. 1856) and/or Olive Webster (b. 1862) who lived in Upstate New York.
Mind the Gap (97,000,000 to 155,000,000)
My mother and New Match share this X-DNA (which again, came from Wade and/or Olive):
As you can see above, Victoria shares 48,806,648 – 120,403,501 with New Match, while my mother is missing a gap in there. Remember the gap in sharing between my mother and Victoria? Here it is:
Remember, this is the same X-DNA that my mother’s father (“Grandpa” in the charts) shared with Victoria. So Grandpa and Victoria shared a lot of X-DNA, but didn’t share that gap. What can I learn about the source of their X-DNA, and this gap, from the X-DNA shared with the New Match?
My grandfather received a single X chromosome from his mother Goldiah, and that X chromosome could have ONLY come from Ross Blanchard and/or Mae Tyler. It may be a mix of both, or it may be an entire copy of the X chromosome that Goldiah received from Ross Blanchard, or it may be an entire copy of the X chromosome that Goldiah received from Mae Tyler. About 86% of the time it will be a mixture, and about 14% of the time it will be one or the other full X chromosome without change.
As you can see above, Victoria shares the gap region with New Match, meaning that her gap region came from Mae Tyler. If grandpa didn’t inherit the gap region from Mae Tyler (which he didn’t because my mom doesn’t match either Nancy or New Match in the gap region), he must have inherited it from Ross Blanchard. Thus, grandpa’s gap came from Ross Blanchard!
So, absent any recombination events that occurred at EXACTLY the SAME spot in BOTH transmissions to grandpa and to great-aunt Victoria, it appears that my great-aunt Victoria inherited a full, unchanged copy of the X chromosome that Goldiah received from Mae Tyler, and my grandfather inherited a mixture of Mae Tyler and Ross Blanchard’s X chromosome as follows:
I received a copy of the X chromosome from my mother. My mother has two X chromosomes (the copy of grandpa’s X chromosome, above, and a copy from my maternal grandmother), and I could have inherited one of the following:
- A full copy of grandpa’s X chromosome, unchanged (in which case I would match great-aunt Victoria and New Match exactly the same as my mother does);
- A full copy of of my maternal grandmother’s X chromosome, unchanged (in which case I would share NO DNA with either great-aunt Victoria or New Match); or
- A mixture of grandma and grandpa’s X chromosomes.
Numbers 1 and 2 happen about 14% of the time, while #3 happens about 86% of the time. And sure enough, I fall into category #3.
I share the following X-DNA with my great-aunt Victoria:
And I share the following X-DNA with New Match:
This suggests that my mother recombined her X chromosomes thusly when creating the egg that led to me:
Mae and Ross were both born about 1820, so I’ve tracked these portions of my X-chromosome back in time approximately 137 years. And, really, since the X chromosome that Ross Blanchard passed down came from his mother, I’ve tracked that segment back to his mother Annette Martin (my 3rd great-grandmother), born about 1856 in Essex County, New York.
My Siblings’ X-DNA
Interestingly, this also tells me quite a bit about my siblings’ X chromosomes (my brother and my sister). They share a full X chromosome in common:
And they share no DNA with their great-aunt Victoria:
They share the ends of the chromosome with me:
So, based on this, I can reasonably conclude that they BOTH received the same full copy of the X chromosome that our mother received from her mother, my grandmother. This will be somewhat rare since there is only a 14% chance that one person will receive an unrecombined X chromosome, but it isn’t exceptionally rare.
All this from a single New Match, prompted by testing my great-aunt Victoria. Test the older generations today!
By David Frey
When forensic science professor Daniele Podini’s students examined the evidence in the 1984 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl, they discovered a problem. The man police accused—and a jury convicted—for the crime in what the class was told was a mock case did not seem to be the perpetrator.
The suspect’s DNA did not appear in forensic or on physical evidence police gathered. Another man’s did. Appearing before more than 40 fellow students and onlookers, they presented their findings, explaining to peers what they would have to explain to a jury in a real case.
“The evidence we collected exonerates Antonio Garcia as the perpetrator,” Racquel Hopkins, a student in the Forensic Molecular Biology class, announced to the group.
But there was a catch. This was not a mock case. This was a real case, and the man imprisoned for nearly nine years for a crime he didn’t commit was sitting in the back of the classroom listening as the students presented evidence that could have acquitted him at trial
“So you solved a real case,” Dr.. Podini told the group after he revealed his secret. “Congratulations.”
In real life, the suspect’s name wasn’t Antonio Garcia. It was Kirk Bloodsworth, who was a 22-year old Eastern Shore waterman and ex-Marine when he was falsely accused in the 1984 incident.
His message to the class was simple.
“It’s all about integrity. Doing it right,” he said. “If it’s right, it isn’t wrong to stand up.”
Police arrested Mr. Bloodsworth after an anonymous tipster said he matched a police sketch that aired on TV news shows. Eyewitnesses said they saw him with the victim, although some of them, including children who were playing hide and seek with the victim, initially had been unable to identify him in a lineup.
Convicted and sentenced to death row, and after an appeal, resentenced to two life terms in prison, Mr. Bloodsworth insisted on his innocence.
In the early 1990s, when he heard about DNA testing, he succeeded in having his case reopened. The DNA evidence pointed to another suspect, and after nearly 9 years behind bars, “Bloodsy,” as he was known to fellow inmates, was released and pardoned in 1993. The other man was sentenced.
“When you work on these cases, it’s somebody’s life,” Mr. Bloodsworth told the students, his voice sometimes breaking as he told his story.
“You could be the difference between an innocent man going to death row or walking out a free man,” he said.
That was exactly the lesson Dr. Podini wanted to impress on the students.
“It’s a fact that their job is going to affect people’s lives and have an impact on society,” said Dr. Podini, an associate professor of forensic molecular biology in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences. “Behind every case is a person. Today was for them to never forget that.”
Ms. Hopkins said she had been questioning whether the forensic work she was considering as a career would really make a difference, but after hearing Mr. Bloodworth’s story, she changed her mind.
“It really confirms to us that this is real. We’re really helping people,” Ms. Hopkins said. “It teaches us that if you do your job right, hopefully things like that won’t happen.”