Q. What is a SNP and how can I use them to figure out how I'm related to my matches?
SNP is short for single nucleotide polymorphism. They are the most common type of genetic variation among people. Each SNP represents a difference in a single DNA building block, called a nucleotide. For example, a SNP may replace the nucleotide cytosine (C) with the nucleotide thymine (T) in a certain stretch of DNA. When this occurs it is a mutation (or change in your genetic code) that we can then use to determine how people are related to each. A SNP occurs approximately every 120-140 years. Your matches SPIRA, SPIER, RUTYNA & RADU have on average about 5 "private" SNPs/mutations each that occurred AFTER the birth of their common ancestor ca 1350. Multiplying 5 x 120 (years) we arrive at around 600 years for the time to their most recent common ancestor. So if their common ancestor lived around 1350 CE, based on probability we can predict that there may have been a mutation in 1470, 1590, 1710, 1830 and finally around 1950 when they were born. Of course SNPS are random and not likely to be so predictable.
If each of these three men have 5 private SNPs (not shared by any of the other 2 men), that occurred AFTER 1350, that means that there are 15 private SNPs whose precise placement on the phylogenic (DNA) family tree is still unknown. You may have some of these SNPs, and if you do that will not only help the entire group by helping to reveal when each of these SNPs occurred, but it will also help place your line on the phylogenic tree. (Click on the result tab above for a diagram and more detailed information).
Q. I'm already a member of a Haplogroup Project. Why should I join this one?
This project can be considered a hybrid surname haplogroup project because it’s name comes from a SNP that occurred within (or slightly outside) of the genealogical time frame. Because MOST Jews did not have surnames this far back, this SNP can be considered a surname surrogate because it is your genetic signature. Family Tree DNA considers the genealogical time frame to be 24 generations or around the 11th Century. So this project is open to all of the men who appear on your match list. We still rely on the larger R1b-M269 (P312- U106-) DNA Project (aka ht35) for assistance with more complicated DNA analysis and encourage all of you to also join that project.
If you're in the Jewish R1b Project it won't be of much use to you because it is a starter project to figure out where you belong. That has already been determined. The Jewish R Project is also too large and in fact is not active any more. Both of these projects are just too overwhelmed having thousands of members to be of help to you. For example, members of this project who joined the Jewish E project more than five years ago still remain unsorted. We are small enough to give you personal attention.
The primary advantage of belonging to this project is because we offer BOTH DNA expertise and genealogical expertise. Most men in this group do not have information on their "Y" ancestor prior to the 18th Century. But there are some Jews who do have family trees and surnames that go back as far as the 12th Century...... even possibly members of this group!
Q. How can genealogy help when we don't know very much about our ancestor?
We feel confident that we will be able to prove that most of you are descendants of the famous SPIRA rabbinical line of the 13th Century. The fact that so many in this group have variations of this surname like; SPIRA, SPIER, & SHAPIRO/SHAPIRA is significant. Additionally the SPIER in this project have an oral history that they came from Spain and the SPIRA have an oral history that they came from the town of Speyer in Germany. These two stories both support our theory because we know that a man named Shabtai ben Kalonymous moved to the town of Speyer from Rome in the early 13th Century. His grandson was Rabbi Samuel SPIRA who was born in Speyer around 1345. Rabbi Samuel married into the famous Treves family of France and lived in both France and Spain. In his later life he returned to Germany and this likely coincided with the very bloody anti-Jewish pograms of the 1390's. So you can see how both oral histories are supported by fact. It's likely that offspring or cousins of Rabbi Samuel Spira may have remained in Spain. So even your genetic cousins like SALIDO who came to the New World from Spain and settled in Mexico and New Mexico in the US may be offspring of Rabbi Spira. (The SALIDO Big Y results would support a common ancestor any time between the Crusades and the Spanish Inquisition. Only additional testing SNP testing will help pinpoint a more precise time period).
We will be combining genealogical research like this with results from DNA SNP testing to merge the paper trial with the DNA family tree. We also encourage genealogical research and will share a gedcom/genealogical file with anyone who is interested in helping us research the paper trail. I have a book called the Jews of Piedmont (Italy) and have discovered that Spira lived there as well. Additionally, several direct male offspring of the famous Spira rabbinical line have been identified and we are hoping to get them into our project so we can validate our theory. Should they match you, their oldest known direct line male ancestor will become your oldest known "Y" ancestor! But even if they end up not matching this group, that may only suggest that you descend from a maternal branch of the same family.
Q. I've already upgraded to 67 markers. Should I upgrade to 111 markers or buy the E-SNP Pack?
Marker upgrades may be helpful in determining how closely you are related to your matches. However, if it’s a choice between upgrading STR or doing SNP testing you’re much more likely to get more bang for your buck by investing in SNP testing. In most cases the SNPs included in the Family Tree DNA SNP pack occurred thousands of years ago and are of no use to you. So please check with any of us before purchasing a test that may be of no benefit to you. Remember, just because FTDNA reports your haplogroup as E-M269 or even R-L23 or L584, those are the names of SNPs that occurred more than 5000 years ago. Don't even consider testing a SNP that is upstream (occurred earlier) than the FCG14605. You can start with this SNP or pick one that is more recent. Please contact us for advise as it will differ depending on who has already done Big Y, your STR/marker results, and the composition of your match list.
Q. What is Big Y and how can it benefit me?
Big Y is a direct paternal lineage test that looks at 12 million locations on the Y Chromosome. Big Y is able to detect new branch markers that are unique to your paternal lineage, surname, or even you. Because a SNP will mutate approximately every 144 years (one of the nucleotides A,C,G or T will change), the age of a SNP can be calculated, and the more men who do Big Y, the more accurate this date becomes.
In this group we have four men who have done Big Y and tested positive for FCG14605. (See YFull results). On average each of these men have 8 mutations that occurred after this SNP occurred around the 9th Century. Different companies use different mutations rates, but if we assume that one SNP mutates every 144 years, then additional “downstream’ mutations may have occurred as follows: 944 AD, 1088 AD, 1232 AD, 1376 AD, 1520 AD, 1664 AD, 1808 AD and a last mutation around 1950! What this means is that if 8 men do Big Y, around 64 new novel SNPs will be revealed that occurred AFTER 800 AD. When two or more men share a SNP, that SNP becomes a common SNP and its position on the SNP tree can be determined and a date can be predicted. But as you can see that leaves scores of SNPs that have been found in some of your matches. If you also do Big Y you will be able to pull out even more of these SNPs, get them dated and contribute even more of your own novel SNPs.
This group is still in need of more Big Y, some men are better candidates than others. For example if one of your very closest STR matches has already done Big Y your contribution will be less than if you have no close matches who have done Big Y. When you have a super close match who has done Big Y there are some very inexpensive ways to attach your ancestor to the SNP tree without doing Big Y.
Q. How can I attach my branch to the R1b-FCG14605 Phylogenic/DNA tree if I can’t afford Big Y?
The four men who have already done Big Y each have around 8 SNPs that occurred AFTER 800 AD. It is possible for you to test these SNPs at an independent company called YSeq. Depending on interest in this group, we could look into putting together our own SNP panel. You also can order any of these SNPs at a cost of $17.50 per SNP. By testing positive for one of these SNPs, you will add yourself to the SNP tree. Of course even at 17.50/SNP it would cost $140 to test all 8 of one person's SNPs. But as we learn more about each of these SNPs and are able to place and date them, there will be much less trial and error involved in figuring out what to order. At that point it will be very inexpensive.
Q. I've already taken a Y-Chromosome test through Family Tree DNA. Why should I take more tests?
A. Most of you have taken one of the basic Y-DNA tests which only test Short Tandem Repeats (STR). STRs are related, but not the same as SNPs. As a result of Big Y testing we're learning that there were many more back mutations than previously thought (for example where a 12 changes to a 13 and then goes back to 12). So while marker testing does help establish relationships, it's proving not nearly as reliable as SNP testing. STR testing is still the first step in finding matches, and it is also extremely helpful when trying to determine how a group of men are related to each other. It is also essential if you want to do individual SNP testing. The first step in figuring out which SNPs to test is to see which SNPs have already been found in your closest matches. There's a good chance that you'll share some of the same private SNPs with someone who matches you on 66 of 67 of your markers!
Q. Why does Family Tree DNA show that my Y-DNA Haplogroup is something different from R1b-FCG14605? Did my Y-DNA Hapolgroup change?
A. Your precise haplogroup will only be discovered if you do a test like Big Y or full genome testing. So your haplogroup will never change, it is just being gradually revealed as more recent SNP mutations become known. If you look at your match list you will notice that some of your matches show their terminal SNP as R-M269 and others have been assigned R-L23. But in fact you ARE FGC14605. The difference in how these SNPs have been assigned may be because one person tested 10 years ago when L23 was still not known, or it may be because one person has paid to test for a specific SNP. Unfortunatley, Family Tree DNA does not update predictions as new SNPs are discovered, so a father's prediction will be different from his sons if they were tested years apart. Still you are all the same! Keep in mind that your match list is only supposed to be composed of men who match within 24 generations. Our SNP has a predicted date of 800 C.E. So that means that you MUST share all of the following SNPs.
R1b-M269 ca 13,900 years before present
| L23 ca 6200 years before present
| | L584 > FGC14590 - ca 4700 years before present
| | | FCG14605/Y11410 - ca 1200 years before present
Also, keep in mind that just because someone does Big Y doesn't mean that their SNPs are available for purchase at FTDNA, or even recognized by the genetic community. A SNP has to be found in a certain number of individuals before it becomes "officially" recognized. So even the SNP that represents this project may not become officially recognized by Family Tree DNA for quite awhile! But this project will help make that happen!
Q. What makes R1b-FCG14605 "Jewish"? Does this mean that I have proven Jewish ancestry?
A. The simplest answer to this question is that R1b-FCG14605 is Jewish because the vast majority of men who belong to this haplogroup are either Jewish themselves, or are of Jewish descent on their father's line. Due to a history of persecution, Jews have historically been an isolated population with very little intermarriage and few converts. Thus, it is overwhelmingly likely that the common ancestor of this haplogroup was a Jewish man. Therefore, being a member of this haplogroup can be viewed as confirmation that you have Jewish ancestry on your patrilineal line (i.e. father's father's father's father, etc.). However, it does not say anything about the rest of your ancestry.