What Are My Maternal Genes Saying About Me?

I have always wanted to know my ancestral roots as far back as I can remember. Being adopted somehow heightened my curiosity.  Even though I have had a successful reunion with my biological family, the curiosity of my deep roots have never subsided.  I saw this DNA testing as an opportunity to know more about my ancestral roots and about myself.

Below is an illustration of how sons carry their mother’s DNA and how the daughter passes on her mother’s DNA to her children.  I know very little of biology and will not attempt to pretend that I do…All I know is that Science has advanced so much so over the years, that it has allowed others such as myself to learn more about their maternal line through DNA testing, and so here I am.

Photo from: http://www.genebase.com/store/product.php?spId=6

In July of 2011, I received an email from the National Urban League(NUL) stating that they were partnering with 23andme, with the intentions of encouraging people of African descent to participate in the testing of their DNA.  The NUL and 23andme stated that there is a lack of participation of African Americans and there is little known about the connection between DNA & Disease in the African American.  I have been a participant of a National longitudinal study of African American Women, and so I also saw this as an opportunity to find out what diseases I may be inheritable to, and find ways that I could prevent those diseases from occurring.

I have always identified as being African American with the knowledge that I have Mexican and some Indian Ancestry.  All I know is DNA doesn’t lie, so here is what some of my information shows….Even though I do not understand what everything means.

My Maternal Haplogroup B2

My maternal Haplogroup is B2 which is found in Native American Ancestry, and U.S. Southwestern Groups.  I believe that B2’s are also found in South America, North America and Asia.

My Ancestry Painting

So what this chart is showing that I am 48% European, 33 % African, and 18% Asian.  Am I surprised…Well, yes and no.  I thought I would be no more than 10% European, 50% African and 40% other.

What I find interesting from my Ancestry painting is that I have no long solid lines.  I am totally intertwined with various colors in the chart.

I am very curious as to what my paternal line has to say about me.  I would be thrilled if I could get one of my father’s brothers to take the DNA test for me, but I think that I will have to at least get one of my brothers soon to do this for me.  On my maternal line, my Uncle and Grandfather recently died and so my hopes of getting anything from my maternal line will be impossible.

Global Similarity

The Global Similarity chart of my DNA revealed that on my Maternal line that my DNA similarity is largely matched in South and North America.

I am hoping that I can get more clarity of my DNA as time goes on.  The 23andme testing has been very valuable to me.  I believe that I will be able to be a part of this health study for awhile.  I am required to complete online surveys on my health, environment and behaviors.  I hope more African Americans participate as this will be most helpful.

The other thing is that many African Americans state they are of Native American Ancestry.  What we need to do is have our DNA studied so that there are more of us and there can be more info as to the actuality of this.  I believe that since there are more Europeans in the DNA bank, they base the Native American Ancestry by their Genes.  If I am mis-stating this, please let me know.

I am sure many of us have watched Finding Your Roots with Dr. Henry Louis Gates.  He is an advocate for 23andme, and has stated in his program that many African Americans ancestry are of European descent rather than Native American.  I am not sure of his statements because I think until more of us decide to participate we will not have a fuller picture as to our ancestry.

One thing that I know for sure is that I self-identify of the African American culture, so that is what I am.


Comments

What Are My Maternal Genes Saying About Me? — 19 Comments

  1. That’s what I understood too – that they can’t predict Native American ancestry for African Americans because they use some formula that combines % of Asian and European to = Nat. American. However since your MTdna takes you there, that just shows how flawed their method or lack of one is.

  2. This is an awesome post! Your right DNA doesn’t lie. Hopefully with more people taking DNA test now, they will be able to have more data to compare people’s information with. I am looking forward to see what you find out.

      • Yvette..how are you? I have enjoyed reading your posts. I am an African American woman and just got my results back. With dna tesitng on my mom’s side, I am 64% black, 31% European and 6% Asian. My question is why are the results adding up to 101% and no 99% or 100%? Also my great-great grandmother was 100% Cherokee Indian. Why didn’t they detect Native American blood?

  3. With my limited understanding of DNA; what DNA companies with their VARIOUS advertising ways testing – the more you have of a particular group – ? would give better results.I would think with more or a family line tested – the more “truer” results. .

  4. I learned some time ago that 23andme gives just about all black people,not only AfricanAmericans but also black folks from west and east Africa asian percentages.Dr. Gates will tell you “that’s native american” then he’ll say in a speech,”the average slave did’t even see a native american.
    ” Joanna Mountain of 23andme herself has said that they cant predict native american ancestry for African Americans. I’ve seen on Finding your roots that for Barbara Walters and Robert Downey Jr.and Linda Chavez he used Familytreedna’s familyfinder which has a thing called populationfinder that is way more detailed than 23andme’s ancestrypainting, it has way more refernce samples and should be able to differentiate native american from asian and should not misidentify african as asian. But for everybody else Dr.Gates used 23andme, knowing how flawed it is. Why does he have everybody else use 23andme’s test? How is Bradford Marsolis supposed to know whether he’s five percent asian or five percent native american or frive percent more african when you give him a test that the company admits is flawed, and you give barbara walters a much better test? Come on Dr.Gates,you can do better than that.

  5. Yvette,do you ever plan on doing a better test like populationfinder from familytreedna or ancestrydna from ancestry.com? a test that can actually tell you you have native american ancestry and not miscalculated african? and also, can you send your 23andme results to Dr. Doug Mcdonald at mcdonald@scs.illinois.edu post what his results for you are? thanks.

      • Hi Yvette,
        Your Ancestry Painting is beautiful! Dr. McDonald will do a complimentary very detailed biogeographical ancestry analysis on your raw data from 23andMe. He can tell you more about your Native American DNA because he uses actual Natives as a reference sample instead of Han Chinese. He helped FTDNA create their Population Finder tool, but I like his analyses even better. Please let us know what he says.
        Also, I wanted to say that these results DO confirm your substantial Native American ancestry. Your mtDNA haplogroup is definitely native and you have a large percentage of Asian, at least some of which is likely authentic Native based on your oral history.
        These types of tests are in their infancy and will only improve with time.
        And…you make a really important point. Regardless of genetics, a person is what they self-identify as.

    • I am an African American woman and just got my results back. With dna tesitng on my mom’s side, I am 64% black, 31% European and 6% Asian. My question is why are the results adding up to 101% and no 99% or 100%? Also my great-great grandmother was 100% Cherokee Indian. Why didn’t they detect Native American blood?

      • Exactly Nitosha! I know that my Great Grandfather was Full blooded Indian from Arizona…However, this test does not fully confirm that I have Indian Blood…I am seen as having more European, and of course Asian…the 23andme test seems to base it off of European Ancestry. I am looking forward to getting more detailed information.

      • Hi, I don’t know why your percentages add up to more than 100%, but they did detect your Native American DNA. The 6% Asian is likely Native American in your case. We inherit an average of about 6.25% of our DNA from each of our great great grandparents, so your 6% is right in line with your oral history of having a full blooded Native great great grandmother.

    • thank you cece..mathematically, it makes sense the six percent of native american from my great great grandma. thanks!!

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