Meek Family Y-DNA Project

How it Works and What it Means

This is my unscientific explanation of what a DNA test will do for us and how the process works. For additional information click here for a more technical but basic explanation of DNA from the Blair surname project. Also visit World Families Network. The test is simple and easy to do in the privacy of your own home. Click here for a nice presentation of the collection process by Dave Dorsey.

DNA testing for genetic genealogy uses certain non-coding portions (junk DNA) of the Y-DNA string. It does not reveal any personal characteristic or medical information about you or your ancestors. Your DNA results cannot be used to identify you individually as other people even those who are not related to you can have the same results. In addition there is no “chain of custody” and no way to determine whose DNA you actually submitted to the testing company. Your DNA sample will be kept by the testing company and is not available to any other entity. Your personal information included with your test kit will be safe guarded by the testing company and the group administrator and will never be released without your permission. See FTDNA's privacy policy Click here

What the test will not do: It will not tell you who the most recent common ancestor (MRCA) was. It will not tell you if the two people or ancestors are brothers, father and son or any other relationship.

The object is to compare the test results from two or more people and calculate the probability (percentage) that the two people tested shared a common ancestor within certain time frames usually expressed in generations or hundreds of years.

DNA testing is most useful when used in conjunction with a documented genealogy. If two people have documented proof of a common ancestor the DNA test can be considered supporting evidence. In many cases the documentation is not as definitive as one would like and again the DNA test will serve as one additional factor to support your conclusions. In many cases we cannot even prove that two lines are connected but suspect that they are. The DNA test can tell us if the two ancestors have a common ancestor but not who or when that ancestor lived. Finally, the DNA test can exclude possible connections which is helpful to prevent wasted time researching the wrong family.

How it works: The different DNA markers tested will each mutate at a given rate over time as the DNA is passed from one generation to the next. If the marker DSY#393 is 14 on one test and 13 on the other test that might represent a one step mutation. The genetic distance is expressed as 1 if all of the other markers match. However, if there are too many mismatches between the two samples then the results indicate that any probable common ancestor was so far back in time as to be irrelevant.

The differences between some markers need to be evaluated in relationship to other markers. Thus, it becomes more difficult for us non technical folks to calculate. However, FTDNA does provide information on how to do this. Newer technology is now showing that some markers mutates at different rates. So, in addition to determining a probable match the distance in years to the common ancestor can be refined. While you and I cannot calculate this FTDNA is now providing these calculations to the group. Click here for additional information on how the project administrator will analyze your results.

Generally speaking, on a 12 marker test a genetic distance of more than 1 would indicate that the two people tested are probably not related. In fact, anything other than 0 is likely not a match. If two people with different surnames match perfectly on the 12 marker test then you are most likely not related because the time frames to a common ancestor would be too great. In most cases if there is a 12/12 or 12/11 match you will want to upgrade to a 25 marker test. On the 25 marker test a genetic distance of more than 2 indicates that the two people tested are probably not related.


The 12 marker test can be useful to exclude someone from a group of related people but often does not provide a definitive indication one way or the other.
The 37 marker test has become the standard and in many Meek(s) families is required to confirm a connection. That is because markers in the third panel (26-37) sometimes contain values that will help define a group.
It is only logical that more markers will give you more specific information. However, you can always upgrade any test later for a modest increase in cost.

Cost for New members-1st purchase

Y-DNA 12 markers - $99
Y-DNA 37 markers - $149
Y-DNA 64 markers - $248
Y-DNA 111 markers - $339
* plus $4 US or $6 Int'l for postage.


Generally Y-DNA test results are completed in 4 to 6 weeks. Timing depends on the number of markers ordered and other factors such as volumn of tests being run at any one time.


How is the haplogroup determined? Is it determined (or estimated) from the haplotypes? If so, what are the key haplotype values that indicate someone is in the R1b haplogroup.

FTDNA Answer:
We use the entire 12 marker string to predict which of the 18 branches of mankind that you descend from. Usually we can do so with many less markers and in 100% of the cases so far if markers 5-7 are 11,14,12 then you are in Haplogroup R1. If you have an 11 at 392 you are in R1a, and if you have a 13 in 392 you are in R1b. Because you are 14 in DYS 392 AND your DYS 390 is a 23-24, and not a 25-26 our system predicted you as R1b.


Allele - (pronounced UH-leel) - The scientific result for a marker.

DYS - Acronym for DNA Y-chromosome Segment - The assigned number of a marker on a segment of the Y-chromosome. Example: DYS# 393

Haplotype - The term for the set of numbers that consists of your Y-chromosome or mitochondrial DNA results. Haplotypes are also known as signatures

Haplogroup - A group of similar haplotypes that share a common ancestor with a SNP mutation. Because a haplogroup consists of similar haplotypes, this is what makes it possible to predict a haplogroup. A SNP test confirms a haplogroup. Haplogroups are assigned letters of the alphabet, and refinements consist of additional number and letter combinations, Example: R1b1. Y-chromosome and mitochondrial DNA haplogroups have different haplogroup designations. Haplogroups pertain to your deep ancestral origins dating back thousands of years.

Ancestral haplotype - The method of deducing the MRCA's haplotype by comparing matching descendants' haplotypes, and eliminating the mutations. A minimum of three lines, as distantly related as possible, is recommended for deducing the ancestral haplotype.

SNP - (pronounced SNIP) - Acronym for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. A SNP test confirms your haplogroup by determining if a SNP has mutated from its derived or ancestral state. A SNP is usually found on a different area of the Y-chromosome than where the YSTR markers are. Sometimes, a SNP may cause a null result on a marker.

STR - Acronym for Short Tandem Repeat
YSTR - Acronym for Y-chromosome Short Tandem Repeat. The number of times the bases repeat that determines the value of the marker. Example: Thirteen repeats of the same bases equals a value of '13'.

The Role of the Project Administrator:

The Group Administrator will handle the data management of your Project. The Group Administrator will be Family Tree DNA's direct link to your project.

The Group Administrator will have access to a secure page where your project's status is updated daily. Family Tree DNA will distribute legal release forms allowing for the sharing of the test results with the Group Administrator.

Test results will be returned to the Group Administrator as they are received by the office. Each participant will also receive a certificate and report containing their personal test results. The staff of FTDNA will help you interpret the meaning of your test results.

You may request that your name and/or E-mail not be displayed on the project web site. Your surname, kit number and test results will be displayed on the project web page. No other information such as address and phone number will ever be displayed on the project web page or given out by the group administrator.

Click here for additional information on how the project administrator will analyze your results.

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If you have any questions E-mail Chris Meek or Fred Meek