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10. My maiden name is Gordon and I would love to have the information, but I am female and have no brothers, my father has passed on. There are no living males with surname Gordon in my family--only male cousins named Gordon, quite distantly related.
Q1. What is this DNA test? Answer: There are two types of tests now available for genealogical testing. The Y Chromosome (Y-DNA) test and the mitochondrial mtDNA) test. A direct female line can be traced by testing mitochondrial DNA. However, since we are presently interested in tracing surnames, which are usually passed from father to son, testing of the Y-chromosome DNA is what we are interested in. The portion of the Y-Chromosome that is tested for genealogical purposes is passed through the direct male line (father to son) unchanged (other than having an occasional mutation). Human sperm and egg cells contain 23 chromosomes. The 23rd chromosome is the one that determines the sex of the child. Males have an X and a Y 23rd chromosome, while the female has 2 X's with no Y's. The human egg becomes a female embryo if the male sperm carries an X-chromosome and a male embryo if the sperm carried a Y-chromosome. Males pass their Y-chromosomes or "DNA fingerprints" down to their sons with little if any variation, from generation to generation. Therefore, men with identical or near identical DNA fingerprints (some minor variation can occur) can genetically be descendants of a common male ancestor. Ideally, we would have 2 or more male Gordons in the same family line participating in order to establish the "DNA fingerprint" for that particular line. As these matches are established, future Gordon participants would be able to readily identify whether they have this family DNA fingerprint. Top
Q2. Will a DNA test tell me who my ancestors are? What will the test tell me? Answer: No, the DNA test will not tell you who your ancestors are. The test WILL tell you if two or more participants share a common ancestor, and give you a probability of the number of generations to that Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). Top
Q3. Why do we analyze the Y chromosome? Answer: The Y-Chromosome is the only chromosome that passes unchanged father to son, and therefore indicates the line of paternal descent. All males in a patriarchal line have the same Y-Chromosome. The Y-Chromosome is not present in females. Top
Q4. What is analyzed? Answer: We look at specific parts of the Y-Chromosome to obtain a signature. Two or more participants whose Y signatures match come from the same paternal line of descent. Those whose signatures do not match are from a different line. Top
Q5. Exactly what does a Y-Chromosome match demonstrate? Answer: A Y-Chromosome match shows that two males have a common male ancestor. This ancestor could be their father or it could be a male from a thousand years ago. Top
Q6. Does a Y-Chromosome match prove a relationship between two people? Answer: Although no evidence is ever certain, the confidence level for such a match is very high. Typically there is less than one chance in 1,000 that a demonstrated relationship is in error if 12 of 12 markers (DYS loci) match. Top
Q7. What is the advantage of the 25-marker test over the 12-marker test? Answer: More markers reduce the number of generations to the MRCA (Most Recent Common Ancestor). If you match someone on 12 of 12 markers, you probably share a common ancestor. If two people match 25 of 25 markers, the odds are about 1,000,000 to one that the two are related. The question becomes "how far do you have to go back to find that common ancestor?" If all 12 markers match, there is a 50% probability that the MRCA is 14.4 generations or less, a 90% probability that the MRCA is 48 generations or less and a 95% probability that the MRCA is 62 generations or less. For 12 identical markers,95% of the possible values fall between 1 and 77 generations. If all 25 markers match, there is a 50% probability that the MRCA is 7 generations or less, a 90% probability that the MRCA is 20 generations or less and a 95% probability that the MRCA is 30 generations or less. For 25 identical markers, 95% of the possible MRCA values fall between 1 and 44 generations. Top
Q8. Do Y-Chromosome analyses sometime match, but not at every point? Answer: Yes. Over a period of many years a number of mutations can be counted on to appear, so there may be one or more points where the Y-Chromosome allelle does not match exactly. Top
Q9. If no Y-Chromosome match is found, what does that show? Answer: It demonstrates to a very high degree of probability that the two males analyzed do not share a common male ancestor. Although this is true for the 2 individuals tested, it may not be for the family groups of the individual groups who were tested, because there are a number of sources for a non-paternal event. Top
Q10. My maiden name is Gordon and I would love to have this information, but I am female and have to brothers. My father has passed on. There are no living males with the Gordon surname in my family, only male cousins named Gordon, some quite distantly related. Answer: Your male cousins probably have the same DNA as your father and his male ancestors with the surname Gordon. Testing your cousins is the same as testing your father if they are natural sons of your Gordon ancestors. That is because the Y-Chromosome passes unchanged form father to son apart from random mutations. So, if your father and your cousins have any known common ancestor, even back to your 4th great grandfather and beyond, the DNA sample should be same as testing your father, given a mutation or two. Top
Q11. My line split off from the Gordon family 200 years ago. My ggg-grandmother was a Gordon. I do research my Gordon ancestors, but have no close Gordon relatives. Answer: If you know or can find male surname descendants of you gggg grandfather Gordon, you can in effect test him by testing his descendents. That is because the Y-DNA chromosome passes unchanged from father to son. If you test a couple of your Gordon cousins and they match, you can say with confidence that their Y-DNA is very close to the DNA of your ggg grandfather. Then you can compare his sample with the samples in the study and possibly learn much new information about his line for your research. Top
Q12. Why are you excluding women? We are the children of Gordon ancestors, the same as the males. Answer: Females cannot test for the Y-Chromosome because they don't have one, only males. The technology does not exist to trace Gordon female ancestors through their female decedents, at least not yet. The reason requires going into a big discussion of genetics, but essentially, we get a blend of genes from our fathers and mothers for everything except the Y-Chromosome which passes from father to son unchanged. Most other genes combine, thus making every individual unique with a unique genetic signature. But that does not mean that daughters are not just as related to their father. In fact, everyone has genes from all their ancestors, half from each parent, a quarter from each grandparent, an eighth from each great grandparent and so on. Every gene in our DNA existed in some ancestor 10,000 years ago aside from a few mutations maybe. By using Y-DNA analysis women can learn just as much about their Gordon ancestors as male descendants. There are tests of mtDNA that tract female lineages, but they are not useful for single surname studies. Top
Q13. There is only one living male person surname Gordon in my family. Is there any point in joining the study if I don't have 2 or 3 family members who are Gordon males? Answer: Yes, there is potentially value for you to join testing. The reason for testing 2 or 3 family members is it "validates" the family at least back to the known ancestor. A single test could provide incorrect data if there is an unknown adoption or a false paternity somewhere back in the past. If you alone take the test and it matches others in the study, you will have learned that your branch of Gordons is related to theirs, with little doubt. If it does not match, and you cannot find any cousins to validate the result, at least your sample will sit there in the database until sometime in the future when a match may be secured. Top
Q14. I was adopted by Gordons as a child. Is there any benefit to do a DNA test. Answer: That depends on whether you are trying to trace your biological family or your Gordon family. If you are trying to trace your biological family want your own DNA sample tested. If you already know the surname of your biological family, it would probably be best to join a DNA project for that name since your results would more likely match someone in that group than the Gordon group. If you are interested in tracing your Jordan family roots, you would need a DNA sample from your Gordon father or a male Gordon family member. Top
Q15. My male Gordon cousins don't care a thing about family history. They won't pay for this. Answer: There is no rule that says the person ordering and paying for the test must be the person tested. If your cousins will consent to doing the simple, painless test, you can order the kits on line and then send them to your cousins, and return them with your own payment. Some of the other family reconstruction projects have multiple researchers in the same family have paid for testing of male family members who have no interest in the hobby. Top.
Q16. I already know my Gordon family comes from somewhere in Ireland. What are we going to learn from doing the test that is new? Answer: You may discover many Gordon families that are your cousins that you did not know at all. They may have new information and family histories that will be useful to you, and you will know they are your relatives with little or no doubt. A couple of families named Gordon living side by side in the census may brothers or could be coincidence. But DNA is proof. Top
Q.17All it takes is one break a long time ago and you won't be able to match up a whole line of Gordons. You will never put all the Gordons together. Answer: That is very likely true, but the purpose of this is to help different Gordon families link up to further their genealogical research. Even if long a go a Mr. Gordon adopted a boy whose natural father is Mr. Jones, all his male descendants will still be with a common ancestor, which may prove useful. Also, if someday, someone else has the test done, we may find that match as well! Top
Q19. How do I participate? Answer: Details on how to participate are provided on this website. Basically each participant needs to send his full name, address, phone # and e-mail address to the Project Administrator who will order your DNA kit for you. The participant will take his own DNA and return to Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) in Houston, TX along with a check or money order (I think they also take credit cards) payable to FTDNA. FTDNA will forward your DNA sample to the Testing Lab at the University of Arizona. Results will be returned to FTDNA who will forward them on to the participant. Top
Q20. How will my DNA information be used? Answer: This poses a delicate balance between making the information publicly available to others while protecting the privacy of the participants. The DNA results are of little use on their own. The value is how they compare to other test results and who they match. Top
Q21 How will my DNA be protected? Answer: Only the participant providing the DNA sample and the Program Administrator will know what his results are (unless they decide they would like to share that information-see next question). All samples and identifying information will be received by the Project Administrator and will be assigned an identifying number. This ID number will be the only identifying information anyone else sees, so no one other than the Administrator will know who participates in the study or which result is from which person. The portion of the DNA tested gives a distinctive "signature" of lineage rather than for an individual, so there is no risk of this data being of use to anyone for personal identity. Top
Q22. I noticed my DNA markers match several other participants. Is there any way I can contact them? Answer: A participant's identity will not be revealed to anyone unless the participant gives his written permission to do so. Since the purpose of this project s to further genealogical research, participants are encouraged to identify themselves, particularly if they are part of a group, to facilitate open exchange of information.. Only the Participant cam make the decision about revealing his identity. If the participant chooses not to identify himself, you can contact the Project Administrator who will forward your request to the participant. Top
Q23. Couldn't it be embarrassing if an individual's Y-Chromosome does not match when it should? Answer: Yes, another reason no participants results will be revealed unless the participant gave written permission to do so. Top
Q24. My test results do not match any others, does that mean I am not a Gordon? Answer: There is always a possibility that you could get disappointing test results. Samples that vary by three or more markers from the main group may do so for a number of reasons. One possibility is that they represent distinct lines either older or younger than the currently observed line. Another is that has been a non-paternal event at an unknown past time. There are several possibilities, a non-paternal event in addition to a pregnancy outside of a marriage. For example, a child may be adopted and given the Gordon name; a man may take the Gordon name when he marries a Gordon daughter; a Gordon man may marry a pregnant woman whose husband has died; a couple where the wife is a Gordon may decide to give their children the Gordon name for various reasons; clerical error in recording administrative data may assign a Gordon name to a person and so on. It should be stressed that adoptions were quite common in every age ie. parents died by disease and a relative took in the children and raised them with their name; or young daughters had a child out of wedlock and parents raised it as their own. Some may not want to see a result indicating a non paternity event, but we are all legally Gordons and a small sample size could be misleading. One may get a DNA sequence which suggests a non-paternal event, but they could be of the original blood of the Gordon line. Let me explain. Twenty people are tested and 19 are very similar, the last is clearly different. It could turn out that the 19 descend from the same ancestor 300 years ago and this person was an adopted Gordon going back 800 years.
Q&A used with permission from Larry Jordan and edited by Janice McGough for use on the Gordon DNA site 12/10/02