MITOCHONDRIAL DNA DATABASES

 

First some caveats as to what one can expect from the available databases.  It must be noted that mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have a very limited role to play in genealogical research.  By studying the results of testing of HVR1 (Hypervariable Region 1) with its 400 possible "mutation" sites one can categorize the "scores" into broad haplogroups such as U5 or K, but it is quite likely that you will find that these designations are found widely distributed throughout Europe, and that you scores are often shared by large numbers of individuals - most of whom are unrelated to you within a genealogical time frame.  However, since the Shetland Islands is a small isolated region, the utility of this data may increase significantly.  Likely, however, all you are going to be able to do is to say that your haplogroup is found in, for example, Italy and Russia.  Then of course you are going to wonder how your female ancestor ended up in Shetland - but an answer may be elusive.  By adding values in the HVR2 (Hypervariable Region 2) matrix it offers enough variability that you may be able to find a match that has some genealogical significance - where comparing notes may prove worthwhile.  Here follow the databases that can be checked to garner further information on the scores obtained via your FTDNA testing:

 

1)  Family Tree DNA "DNA Matches".  If you tested with this company, clearly this is the first source that should be explored before any other searches are made.  The databases are found on your personal webpage that is provided by FTDNA (accessed via www.familytreedna.com with your kit number and password).  This is your starting point. You will see the number of those who are an exact match to you along with their e-mail addresses (if provided).   Record (print) your "mt Results" since this is the information you will need in comparison with other databases.  The HVR1 results (the haplogroup and the mutation numbers) are the most useful for broad comparison with the worldwide databases noted below.

 

2)  Mitochondrial DNA Concordance HVR1. Using the haplogroup and mutation values, compare your findings with the charts on this site to see where in Europe and adjacent areas a majority of your matches are found.  The site can be accessed at:  http://shelob.bioanth.cam.ac.uk/mtDNA/ .

 

3)  Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA).  Test Result Log BookThis database was set up by Charles Kerchner as a site comparable to the "ybase" site for Y - Chromosome signatures.  Individuals (including participants in the present project) are encouraged to submit their own information such that over the years the database will have grown to become a useful tool to genealogists. the URL is http://www.kerchner.com/cgi-kerchner/mtdna.cgi .

 

4)  Oxford Ancestors.  This company also offers mtDNA testing of HRV1.  “Guests” can check their matches for helpful information.  Unfortunately very few of those testing have included information about the origin of their "deepest known maternal ancestor" and so the database is of limited usefulness.  Anyone can go to www.oxfordancestors.com/ms_guest.htm , and select the maternal line and input any numbers (each of your mutations / substitutions).  Unfortunately, not a great deal can be learned from this exercise except the number of matches to your motif; and occasionally the distribution of countries where those patterns are found.  Bear in mind, however, that the customers of Oxford Ancestors are largely from England so that the data will be skewed in that direction.  

 

Another thing to bear in mind is that OA only measures 400 locations (potential mutation sites), whereas FTDNA measures 570.  Also, in a search for one participant the Administrator found 114 matches, but only 9 had included contact information and only 4 noted their "deepest known maternal" ancestor's birthplace. 

 

5)  Macaulay's Database (Supplementary Data from Richards et al., 2000)A very useful work which is detailed enough that you will be able to find (hopefully, if your haplotype is not too rare) your haplogroup, and your set of "mutations" and then see how many individuals in this geographically diverse database are exact matches - and from what country or region.  The URL is http://www.stats.ox.ac.uk/~macaulay/founder2000/index.html.

 

6)   Mitomap:  A Human Mitochondrial Genome DatabaseAt present I am unable to give you any sort of understanding how this site may be of use to you.  While I am in the process of exploring its potential, you may wish to see what it has to offer.  It can be accessed at www.mitomap.org/

 

7)  McEvoy’s Irish Database (Supplementary Data from McEvoy et al., 2004).  This database contains 146 haplotypes (mtDNA signatures) found in Ireland (many or most of which are also seen in Scotland).  The URL is www.gen.tcd.ie/molpopgen/data.htm.   Only the link to the Irish database is useful for our purposes, the others can be ignored.  Remember to click on the tabs at the bottom of this Excel sheet as this will bring you to the raw data that is most useful.

 

8)   Mitosearch.  This database is a free service if Family Tree DNA, and permits customers to directly upload their results to this database and to add information about the genealogy of the earliest known ancestor in the female line.  Anyone (e.g., those who tested via Oxford Ancestors) can also add their data to this unique service.  The URL is www.mitosearch.org.