MacAulay Clan DNA Project Update – December 2012

After receiving my test results almost 4 years ago, I have been in the same position as most of us who have done DNA testing – What do the test results tell us?
To assist in answering this question, last year I agreed to take on the task of administrator for the Family Tree DNA MacAulay surname project.

Fortunately, the current president of the Southern California Genealogical Society, Alice Fairhurst, agreed to be a co-administrator for our project and has organized the MacAulay surname FTDNA project following internationally recognized genetic genealogy standards.
This has produced a major improvement in the organization and display of the Y-DNA testing results at: www.familytreedna.com/public/MacAulay
However, for most of us this method of categorization fails to provide much information on where we MacAulays are from and how the various historical geographic Clan groups in Scotland and Ireland may be related.

In order to provide information in a way that is more useful to the individual participants, I embarked on a project this year, in conjunction with Pat MacAuley, to analyze the test data based on the statistical DNA mutation rates and known family and Clan historical information. As you can imagine, this will be a long term (and ongoing) project based on the information we have available.
We will, later in December, reorganize the DNA data based on the limited data we have available.

Based on the current information we have received, the following can be said of the overall Family Tree DNA MacAulay surname project:

There are a total of 118 members in the project and at least 110 of those members have Celtic DNA.
The remaining members appear to have Nordic, Southern European, African or Mediterranean DNA.

The majority of the people identified as part of all of the various geographic groupings have Celtic DNA, including those from the Isle of Lewis.

With additional project members, additional testing for those already in the project and additional information on the oldest known ancestors, we should be able to develop the links between the various geographical Scottish and Irish groups in the Clan Association.
It is just as important for those who know their genealogy and migration history to join the DNA project as it is for those who do not, in order to provide the basis for the specific DNA signatures for the various groups.

Y-DNA testing is most appropriate for use in a surname project such as ours because Y-DNA is only passed from father to son. As a result, the genetic information is only from the straight male ancestral line. The common Y-DNA testing method is the STR (Short Tandem Repeat) method which is analogous to the branching pattern on a particular tree limb. This can provide information on the basic DNA grouping (haplotype) and matching between individuals. At least 37 markers need to be tested in order to correctly predict where an individual fits within our project. 67 markers may be needed for more detailed individual matching.

Additional much more specific testing is SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism), pronounced “snip”. A SNP is a specific chemical sequence at specific location. This is analogous to a specific leaf on a specific branch. Until recently, STR testing was needed in order to predict which SNPs to test because only small groups or individual SNPs were tested at one time.

National Geographic recently released a much more extensive test called Geno 2.0 which tests for almost 15,000 SNPs for paternal, maternal and ethnic ancestry. The test is also designed to provide matching to ancient and global populations. Positive test results will be able to be transferred to your Family Tree DNA account and utilized by our project.

Current testing costs:
Family Tree DNA is offering discounted testing prices through the end of December.
Y-DNA 37 Marker: $119.00, regularly $149.00
Y-DNA 67 Marker: $199.00, regularly $238.00

The National Geographic Geno 2.0 test is currently priced at $199.95

By: Jim McAuley
Project Administrator, FTDNA MacAulay Surname Group mailto:ftdna@mcauleys.org
Clan Commissioner, Southwest USA