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Diana, Goddess of the Hunt for Ancestors!
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FAQ's about DNA Testing for the Lyon(s) Families Association Project
1. Do you accept results from any testing lab?
2. Are there any limitations on the geographic scope of the project?
3. Do I have to join the LFA to participate?
4. What does direct line ancestor mean?
5. How does DNA testing help with genealogy?
6. My test results are just a bunch of numbers, what do these mean?
7. Which test would be of most value?
8. Should additional family members be tested?
9. What about the senior members of my family?
10. Can my test results be used for my mother's ancestry?
11. What about privacy?
12. What is Ysearch?
13. What about SNP testing?
14. Is this a commercial project?
15. Will you sell my data?
16. Can I transfer my Y-DNA test results to FTDNA?
17. How can I get my GEDCOM to upload?
1.  Do you accept results from any testing lab?

Yes, we will accept results from any testing laboratory.  Because some results require mathematical conversion to be compatible and because some of these conversion factors have changed over the years, please send a copy of your original results, as sent to you by your testing company, including the date (or at least the year) when the tests were done.  If your results are in an online database, please point me to the page.

2.  Are there any limitations on the geographic scope of the project?

No, the scope is worldwide, though the reality is that most test subjects surnamed LYON(S) are descendants of European emigrants seeking their roots.  For that reason, European LYON(S) or those with known roots in Europe are expecially welcome to join.

3.  Do I have to join the Lyon(s) Families Association to participate?

No, you do not have to be a member of the Lyon(s) Families Association to participate in the DNA Project.  I certainly recommended that you join, and I'm a member based on my descent from Henry LYON of Newark, NJ.  My LYON line has obviously daughter'd out, so I'm depending on cousins to test Henry's connections.

4.  What does "direct line" ancestor mean?

A direct male or direct female line is one where the gender of the ancestors doesn't change from generation to generation.  Each of us has only two such ancestral lines, one all male (patrilineal) and one all female (matrilineal).  If your line to your ancestor zig-zags between males and females, you will not be able to participate in a Y-DNA project based on that ancestor.

Everyone inherits their mother's mitochondrial DNA, so both males and females can be mtDNA tested.  But because only males have inherited a Y-chromosome from their father, only males can participate in Y-DNA surname projects. 
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
Male Female Male Female
Male Female
Male test subject has both a Y-chromosome and mitochondria
Male Female Male Female Male Female Male Female
Male Female Male Female
Male Female
 Female test subject has only mitochondria, no Y-chromosome

5.  How does DNA testing help with genealogy?

For a general discussion of Y-chromosome and mtDNA testing for genealogical purposed, please see this Introduction.

6.  My test results are just a bunch of numbers, what do these mean?

For help with understanding your Y-DNA test results, please see this discussion.

7.  Which test would be of most value?

With regard to Y-DNA testing, all levels of testing are useful for something, but most researchers have found the more markers tested the better.  It partly depends on whether you turn out to have a common haplotype or a rare one, but of course, you don't know that until after you've been tested on at least 12 markers.  It's parallel to the situation with names, that is, identifying you is more difficult if you are John SMITH than if you are Engelbert HUMPERDINCK.  In identifying John SMITH, it helps greatly to know his middle initial and, better yet, to know his middle name.  Adding more markers to someone's haplotype is parallel to knowing John's middle name to help separate him from other John SMITHs.  I guess we could think of markers 1-12 as the surname, 13-25 as the first name, and 26-37 as the middle name and 38-67 as the birth date and place!  In other words, the more clues you have to the identity, the more confident you can be of the identification.  And the more common the name or haplotype, the more clues you need.  Testing a full 67-markers is a given necessity for those who are Haplogroup R1b, the most common haplogroup in western Europe.

With regard to mtDNA testing, the combined HVR1+HVR2 test (HyperVariable Regions 1 and 2) is definitely preferable to testing only HVR1, to narrow down the size of the group with whom you match.  To make serious genealogical use of mtDNA, the FGS (Full Genetic Sequence) test would be desirable, if not necessary.  mtDNA testing is of limited use in surname projects because the surname does not follow the matrilineal line, however, we will accept mtDNA test results if there is a LYON(S)/etc. female in the matrilineal line.

8.  Should additional family members be tested?

If you get an unexpected result, yes.  But even if you get an expected result, one reason to test addtional family members is to get them interested in their genealogy and identifying themselves with their ancestry.  DNA testing makes a wonderful gift to bring your family together. 

But just as we are warned not to do our genealogy unless we can handle finding out something we'd rather not have known, anyone being DNA tested has to be prepared for an unexpected result because about 2-5% of people tested turn out through hidden adoption or paternity not to be descended from their "paper" ancestor.  Such a result is known as an "NPE" (non-paternal event).  In the case of an NPE, the testing of cousins (beginning with a first cousin, then progressing to increasingly distant cousins) can pinpoint where the NPE took place. 

While people today are generally open about adoptions, in the past an adopted infant was much less likely to have ever been told they were adopted.  Likewise, a wife's infidelity was more likely to be hushed up than to result in divorce, even if the infidelity was uncovered.  For these reasons, assume that an NPE occurred in distant generations, rather than near ones, and don't jump to any conclusions because you get one.  Still, consider the feelings of everyone in the family before bringing the NPE out into the open.  By the way, this is the real reason to keep this testing anonymous, not because these STR test results reveal anything medically important about you (they don't).  So, I recommend quietly testing yourself, first. Then, after you have the result, decide whether to share the news with your family (or your fellow genealogists).

There is also some logic to the idea that everyone doing their genealogy would do well, at the outset, to test themselves and at least a first cousin, just to be certain they don't spend literally years working on the wrong surname.  On the other hand, if other descendants of your progenitor have already been tested and you match them, you have your answer without testing any near cousins. 

9.  What about the senior members of my family?

There may be some urgency involved with testing your family's senior members.  For example, my father was 86 years old when I paid for his testing.  He even joked with me at the time, "Oh, you want to get this done before I die."  Well, yes, actually, and I'm relieved that his testing was completed because he has since passed away.

10.  Can my test be used for my mother's surname?

Yes and no.  For males, your Y-chromosome came from your father, and only from your father, so Y-DNA testing will be of no help in elucidating your mother's ancestry.  To research your mother's surname (i.e., her father's patrilineal line), you will need to get her father or one of her brothers or uncles or nephews of that surname to be tested for you.  For both males and females, it is your mtDNA test that will reveal your ancestry on your mother's matrilineal line.

11.  What about privacy?

I  adhere to the privacy policies of Family Tree DNA.  In addition, your privacy is further maintained by Federal Law:  see the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (GINA) as summarized on the FTDNA web site.

As DNA administrator for the Lyon(s) Families Association, I will know who you are, but only your test data, lineage, and surname not your given name(s) will be placed in public view on my web site.  If someone wants to contact you, I will not give them your name or email address.  Instead, I will send you their name and email address, so it will be up to you whether you want to reveal yourself by responding. 

Speaking personally (not as a representative of FTDNA or the LFA), I do not see the need for privacy.  To demonstrate just how unconcerned I am, I have placed my mtDNA results online at my website and put my mtDNA FMS (Full Mitochonrial Sequence) online at GenBank (EU979542).  You should be much more concerned about someone knowing your Social Security number or reading your bank account number off your checks or your credit card numbers off your sales slips.  (And I'd much rather have someone know my DNA test results than my weight!)

I do have this caveat:  I recommend keeping the fact that you are being tested to yourself until you've seen the results because, if your results uncover a hidden adoption or illicit paternity, you may want to limit with whom you share that information.  I made certain I was an mtDNA match with a first cousin before I "went public" with my HVR1+HVR2 results; and I got a clean slate from a medical analysis of my mtDNA FMS before I uploaded the results to GenBank.  With regard to Y-DNA testing, my father has passed away since being tested, so I have de-privatized his name (scroll to the right to see the lineage).  I didn't see any reason to keep his identity secret in the first place, so I certainly see no reason to keep it secret now.

It bears mentioning that once the Y-DNA haplogroup and modal haplotype have been determined for your progenitor, your haplogroup and matching (or near-matching) haplotype are therefore also known by anyone who knows you descend from that progenitor, whether you get tested, or not.  There is nothing left to keep secret, so why make a big deal out of privacy?  (The exception possibly being in the case of an NPE, though even then, the best policy is to reveal it, so you can resolve it.)

12.  What is Ysearch?

Ysearch.org is a publicly available and searchable database of Y-DNA haplotypes on the internet sponsored by FTDNA, but open to anyone regardless of where they were tested. 

Even if you upload your data to Ysearch, your anonymity is still maintained if you so wish.  At Ysearch, only the test results and surname of the test subject are necessarily displayed. You have the options of including the name and origin of the most distant ancestor, uploading a GEDCOM, and/or revealing your name as the contact person (if you wish to remain anonymous, just enter "name witheld" in the contact name field). Visitors contact you via a form that reveals neither your name or email address, giving you the option whether or not to respond and reveal yourself.

The question then becomes, why upload to Ysearch?  One reason is to seek a match, the other is to make your data available to other researchers, in particular, to ones studying larger issues (i.e., at the paleoanthropological level).  Anything you do to help them ultimately helps you better understand your own origins.

Lastly, I hope you will upload just to have mercy on your project administrator.  If you don't upload your results, I have to manually enter your test data into Ysearch every time I want to check to see if you have any matches.  Please spare me this tedium!

13.  What about SNP testing?

Results from STR (Short Tandem Repeat) testing should correlate with results from SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) testing.  In other words, haplotypes should correlate with haplogroups, and they do.  Therefore, in most cases your haplogroup can be deduced from your haplotype.  If not, a "backbone" SNP test will determine your main haplogroup.

Deep SNP testing determines your haplogroup subclade.  This determination (and, thus, this testing) is not a requirement for participation in the project, but I hope you will consider doing it, for a number of reasons.

One reason to deep SNP test is simply to "contribute to science."  Every one of us who undergoes both STR and SNP testing is contrbuting to the databases that allow these correlations to be made and is contributing to the success of researchers engaged in reconstructing human origins.

And then, there's your own curiosity.  I'm fascinated by the progress being made, and I find it far more meaningful to know that I'm part of the process of discovery and advancement.  If you want recent history to come alive for you and your children, do your family's genealogy.  If you want human history and earth history to come alive for them, have the family DNA tested and begin by joining the National Geographic Society's Genographic Project

On the practical side, haplogroups are a logical way to organize a Y-DNA surname project because people in different Y-DNA haplogroups have a zero probability of being closely related (i.e., related in "genealogical time"), so breaking up the project by haplogroups is simply useful. 

14.  Is this a commercial project?

No.  Most testing labs are for-profit businesses, but the Lyon(s) Families Association DNA Project is not.  I'm a retired zoologist/paleontologist whose hobby is genealogy, and I am a volunteer administrator.

15.  Will you sell my data or my identity?

No.  Your test results will be made public on the project's web site free of charge, which means there can be no incentive for anyone to try and sell the data.  As for your identity, I will not reveal it, much less sell it.

16.  Can I transfer my Y-DNA test results to FTDNA?

Yes, if you were tested with any company using the Sorenson laboratory to run their customers' tests (viz., SMGF, GeneTree, or Ancestry), you can have your 33- or 46-marker results transferred to FTDNA.  The Transfer fee will give you an account at FTDNA and give your project administrator access to your results, allowing the results to be displayed at the project web site.  However, the transfer fee, alone, will not give you haplogroup prediction or allow you to receive automatic match notifications.  To enjoy the full benefits of being a project member at FTDNA, you need to be retested at FTDNA.  The retesting is done at a considerable discount (compare above prices), so I highly recommend doing so and from the outset.

Transfer Only (33 or 46 markers) $19
Upgrade later from Y-DNA33 to Y-DNA25 39
Upgrade later from Y-DNA46 to Y-DNA37 39
Transfer Y-DNA33 including upgrade to FTDNA Y-DNA25 58
Transfer Y-DNA46 including upgrade to FTDNA Y-DNA37 58
See also FAQ at FTDNA.


17.  How can I get my GEDCOM to upload?

Some people have no difficulty uploading a GEDCOM to their FTDNA account, while others fail despite repeated attempts. If you are in the latter category, experience has shown me that the method outlined below does work.  (I'm assuming you are using standard genealogy software that will export a standard GEDCOM.)

To begin with, do not try to extract a subset of your existing database.  Create a new database expressly for this purpose.  While this may seem to be a waste of time, it doesn't take nearly as much time as you will waste trying and failing to get an "extracted" GEDCOM to upload.  The new database should have the following attributes:

Make certain the first person you enter in the database is the test subject, so they are ID No. 1 in the database (and, thus, @I1@ in the GEDCOM).  Also make certain they are marked as the root person in the tree.

Enter only 15 generations, including the test subject.  FTDNA will not display more, so there's no point in including more.

Enter only these five items:

name, birth date, birth place, death date, death place
Nothing else will be displayed and no one can download your GEDCOM so there's no point including anything else.  With regard to entering the name, don't bother including prefixes (e.g., Rev., Dr., etc.), suffixes (e.g., Jr., Sr., III, etc.), titles, nicknames, or alternate names; they won't be displayed.  If you want a prefix or nickname to show up, you'll need to place it in the given name field; if you want a suffix or alternate surname to show up, you'll need to put it in the surname field.  If you do this, be certain to use a single quote ('), not a double quote ("), to enclose a nickname; and be certain not to use a slash (/) to separate alternate names.

Do not skip adding locations.  Locations are important in helping your matchees decide whether an ancestor may be related, which may influence their decision whether or not to contact you.

Do not use "upper" characters, such as ø, ß, ü, etc.  They will likely display as "garbage."  I presume there will eventually be a fix for this, but not as of the last time I checked.

Include only your ancestors (viz., parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc.), no other kin.  Do not include siblings, aunts, uncles, children, additional spouses, or adoptive parents include biological ancestors only. This tree is not your entire genealogy, it is your genetic ancestry only. If you are genetically related to someone, this tree has to intersect with theirs at some point (i.e., you must have a common ancestor in your pedigrees in order to be related). Don't make their search of your tree harder by including genetically irrelevant kin they have to wade through. If you want your full genealogy online and you have no web site of your own, I recommend My Heritage, which is affiliated with FTDNA.

With regard to privatization, I don't see the need for privacy here.  Your pedigree is not on public display and cannot be downloaded, so the only people seeing it will be your genetic matches.  I have given my full name as test subject and the full names of my parents and everyone else.  To make certain everyone showed up, I deliberately set the Living Flag to "No" for the entire database before exporting it.  If you don't want someone to show up, then set the Living Flag to Yes before doing the export.  Do make certain the Living Flag is set, one way or the other, if you want control over the individuals displayed.  Otherwise, FTDNA's software will decide, and you may get unexpected results for people who don't have a death date.

Lastly, even if you do not know your ancestry (e.g., you are adopted), please include a GEDCOM with your name as test subject and with a father and mother named, "Adopted."  That way, your matchees won't waste your time and theirs emailing you to ask for your pedigree or to urge you to upload a GEDCOM.

Whatever effort it is to create this special "lean and clean" database is likely to be well repaid in how small the file is and how easily it uploads.  If you continue to have difficulty, I can only recommend you contact FTDNA, directly, because if you follow the above, you've avoided all the reasons I know of why the upload might fail.  That is, I've never known a file created as I've described above to fail to upload.


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