Bullseye Editor’s note: TCA is introducing a new project and is very excited about the potential involved. By participating in a global DNA project, those interested in their heritage and genealogy are able to find possible connections and relatives worldwide. Robert Turnbull has taken on the task of helping make this happen. He shares the article below with us to help us understand this new adventure.
By Robert M. Turnbull
Greetings to my fellow Clan members! First, let me say what a great time Angela and I had on the Clan Association Scotland trip (thanks for the trip of a lifetime Betty and Wally!). It was such a thrill meeting all my “brethren” and seeing the “homeland.”
At the annual meeting of the members in Scotland, Wally mentioned the Clan’s interest in starting a Turnbull DNA project for the members interested in genealogy and asked if anyone would be willing to coordinate such a project. Being a Biology (Zoology, Anatomy and Physiology, Environmental Biology …) Instructor at the University of Southern Mississippi, I saw this as a great opportunity to combine my background in science with my interest in my heritage and volunteered for the job.
Long story short, a project is underway and the company that we will be using to perform the tests is Family Tree DNA https://www.familytreedna.com/. They are a well respected company in the field and are at the forefront of DNA testing. The results of the project will be posted for you to see on the World Families.net web site http://www.worldfamilies.net and this site is where you will want to go to order your test kit (to participate in the Turnbull project and get the group prices). While I hope everyone will visit both sites (there is a great tutorial about DNA testing at the Family Tree as well as other great references including a glossary of terms) below are the answers to some frequently asked questions. Some of the answers are the ones provided by Family Tree (they can answer them better than I) while others are “tailored” to our specific situation.
What is Family Tree DNA?
Family tree “is dedicated to helping genealogists find lost relatives when the paper trail ends and the brick wall takes its place. A painless cheek scraping is used to obtain DNA that can help accurately determine a relationship with either a 99.9% probability of YES or a 100% certainly that no near term relationship existed.”
How far back can you determine a genetic link?
All genetic tests from Family Tree DNA will provide you a probability that you and another person, who have an exact match, will have your Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA) within a range of time backwards. The 12 marker test gives you the following range: 7 generations (50%) likelihood and 29 generations (95%) likelihood. Using the 25 marker test the 50% likelihood drops to 3 generations and the 95% to 13 generations. The 37-marker test tightens further to 2 generations (50%) and the 95% to 7 generations.
How do I find out that I am related to someone who also did a DNA test?
After you have placed your order, a genetic test kit and instructions will be mailed to you. Upon its return your genetic sample will be processed, and the results will be entered into the secure, private and confidential non-web-based genetic library. A comparison between your specific genetic markers and those of others in the database will then be performed and you will be notified if another person matches your results perfectly.
Why would I want to take a genetic test?
The service was created for the serious amateurs and the professional genealogists who wish to extend their family trees by confirming a link where no conventional source records exist. In some cases the tests can also be used to determine if a person is part of a larger group of people: for example, Jews will be able to confirm they are of Cohanim lineage. The tests are also perfect for individuals who want to perform Surname-based family tree reconstruction projects.
What are the costs of the Family Tree DNA tests?
Since this is a surname (Turnbull) project, the test that will be used is the “Y-DNA” test (remember your high school biology? The Y chromosome is the one passed from father to son). The cost will vary depending on the number of “markers” you wish to look at. Terry Barton, one of the other group administrators for the Turnbull project, provided this response to which test you may want to choose.
“If you are trying to match to a different surname without a paper trail - I always recommend 37 markers as a minimum but 67 can be helpful in establishing extended family relationships.”
12 markers $99
25 markers $148
37 markers $189
67 markers $269
Upgrades from one test to the next cost $49. (37 to 67 is a two step increase which costs $99)
TCA requests that each family have the oldest male in the Turnbull line do a 37 marker DNA test. Because one test will serve all family members the cost per person is not high.
Please note that since this is a “Y-DNA” test, only males will be able to submit their DNA for this particular project as only males have a Y chromosome. If a female member wishes to participate, she can send in a sample from a close male relative (brother, father, etc).
What is done with the results of the tests?
Results will be placed in the secure, private and confidential database. Once a person's test result has been entered into the genetic library, a connection can be made whenever another related person chooses to have their DNA tested. See the https://www.familytreedna.com/ statement for more information. The DNA extracted from your sample is kept by the lab for a period of 25 years for your exclusive use. It is important to note that Family Tree DNA adopts a "double safety net" in regard to your sample: Arizona Research Labs at the campus of the University of Arizona keeps the DNA associated to a number and not a name, while Family Tree DNA offices keep the database with no access to the actual sample.
How is this test different from a paternity test?
Family Tree DNA's primary test attempts to determine if 2 people thought to be unrelated actually had a common ancestor. The specific purpose is to help recreate lost family links. The test is for genealogy NOT for paternity, alimony or other legal purposes
How is the test performed?
Your genetic test kit consists of a cheek scraper and a collection tube. In about five minutes, you will be able to read the instructions and perform a painless cheek scraping. The effect of using the scraper is about the same as brushing your cheek with a soft bristle toothbrush. A backup scraper & tube is included to insure that a good sample is obtained by the lab. The lab intends that you use them both!
How long will it take for me to get my results?
From the time you return the two specimens to the lab it will take approximately seven weeks to test your DNA sample, analyze the specimens and compare the results to data in the existing genetic library.
What's in a DNA test kit?
The Family Tree DNA test kit consists of two cheek scrapers and two collection tubes---designed for a single person’s use. Each tube contains a fluid designed to arrest bacteria growth, so you can scrape your cheek and return your kit in any type of weather (hot or cold). The freshness of your sample will remain intact for months.
If you are interested in participating in the project, again I recommend visiting both the Family Tree and World Families’ web sites to further familiarize yourself with the process. If you decide to participate, go to the World Families site and do a Surname search for Turnbull. Once you are taken to the Turnbull project homepage, there will be a place to order your kit and select which marker test you are interested in. Again remember that even if you only choose the 12 marker test (the cheapest one, $99.00) you can always do upgrades to that test in the future (see previous section on pricing).
Like any project of this kind, the more members that take part the better and I hope that you each of you will consider joining with us in exploring our Turnbull roots.
Please ask the oldest male in your Turnbull line to order a 37 marker DNA test as soon as possible from www.worldfamilies.net – search Turnbull or by phone from:
Family Tree DNA - Genealogy by Genetics, Ltd.
1919 North Loop West, Suite 432
Houston, TX 77008, USA
Phone: (713) 868-1438