What is an SNP Pack?
An SNP Pack is a collection of SNPs known to be relevant to a particular subclade (branch). They represent FTDNA's known version of the haplotree for that particular subclade and may have additional SNPs where the exact branching position is unknown. Packs may also have phylogenetic equivalent SNPs which are extremely powerful for finding new branching and cross-checking results. Everyone who orders a pack gets tested for every SNP in the pack. This is a major difference between the old tree-traversing one a time SNP deep clade testing packages. FTDNA SNP Packs are not dependent on the tree as all SNPs in the pack are tested.
Yes, Big Y is a much more advanced way to test SNPs as described in the Lewis and Clark Expedition analogy on the R1b project FAQ page (click here). Big Y can discovery your own lineage of SNPs. SNP Packs and Panels can not discover your own line of SNPs as they just check you against the tree of known SNPs. However, Big Y will cost at least $400-500 (USD), even on sale. Generally, if you have done Big Y you don't need to do any more SNP testing as you have your most youthful SNPs discovered.
What benefits can SNP Packs provide?
a) Identify your most youthful public (terminal) haplogroup which is very useful in ancient origins and eliminating false matches.
b) Extremely low cost at less than one dollar (USD) per SNP.
c) Very fast turn-around times as all SNPs are tested in one fell swoop.
d) Discovery of new branching where phylogenetic equivalent SNP blocks busted.
e) High reliability that is proven in medical applications.
What SNP Packs are available for R1b-L21 people?
The following are specialized for each subclade listed. Some of them have a close alignment with a known STR pattern or signature which can allow you to skip directly to that subclade pack with confidence. If you are L21+ or DF13+ plus and have done limited testing beyond that the safe place to start is the R1b-L21 top-layer SNP Pack.
R1b-L21 top-layer and misc subclades SNP Pack (i.e. CTS3386, S1026, L371, etc.) [bridge to below packs]
R1b-CTS4466 (Irish II/South)
R1b-DF21 (xZ246 xZ3000 xS3058 xS5488) top-layer and misc subclades [bridges to Z3000, S3058, S5488 & Z246/DF25]
R1b-Z3000 (Clan Colla)
R1b-S3058 (Little Scots)
R1b-S5488 (Ely Carroll, etc.)
R1b-Z246/DF25 (includes DF25, DF5)
R1b-FGC5780 (O'Cathain, etc.)
R1b-DF49 (xM222) (Ui Maine) [bridges to M222]
R1b-M222 (Northwest Irish)
R1b-L1065 (Scots Modal & most L1335 people)
R1b-L513 (xS5668 xS6365) top-layer and misc subclades (11-13 Combo, bridges to S5668, S6365)
R1b-S1051 (9919 clusters)
R1b-L555 (Clan Irwin under Z251)
R1b-Z253 (xZ2185 xL226) top-layer and misc subclades (bridges to L226 & Z2185)
R1b-L226 (Irish III)
R1b-Z2185 (L1066/Irish IV)
R1b-Z255 (L159.2/Irish Sea/Leinster)
Which SNP Pack is best for you?
FTDNA's SNP Pack product line for R1b is intended to cover the R1b haplotree in no more than two pack tests. If you are sure you are L21+ then the recommended first pack to order is the R1b-L21 SNP Pack. If you are unsure what you are, the recommended first order is the R1b-M343 & M269 Backbone SNP Pack. You may choose to skip right to your predicted major subclade SNP Pack based on your Y STR results.
This is part of the reason 111 STRs are recommended. You can check your matches on myFTDNA as well as STR signatures in the R1b-L21_Haplotypes spreadsheet. This may save you money. The caveat is there are always at least a little risk when basing a test decision on STRs, but please use the R1b-L21-project yahoo group to ask for help (click here). Don't forget to include your kit #. If at all in doubt, please ask on the Yahoo group or Activity Feed. Every situation is different.
How do I order an SNP Pack and what is the warning message about?
To order an SNP Pack, log into myFTDNA, click on the blue "UPGRADE" button, then click on the blue "BUY NOW" button in "ADVANCED TESTS." box. Next, enter "SNP PACK" in "SELECT A PRODUCT" and a list of packs will show up. You will receive a convoluted prerequisite warning message that you will have to click through by hitting "ORDER NOW". This warning is incorrect but is intended to make you think twice as there are many SNP names and they are easy to confuse. If in in doubt, ask on the R1b-L21-project yahoo group or R-L21 project Activity Feed.
If I've done an SNP Pack, am I done testing SNPs?
Oftentimes, but not necessarily. If you want your own line of SNPs more youthful than on the haplotree, you still have to consider Big Y as Big Y is the only way to discover SNPs. Keep in mind that that SNP Packs are snapshots of the haplotree at points in time so your results age as more people do Big Y in your subclade and more SNPs are added to the haplotree. You might consider purchasing SNPs one at a time through haplotree if you see new SNPs available for your branch. You may also want to consider order new versions of your SNP Pack if one is made available. If in in doubt, ask for help.
What technology is FTDNA using in their Houston Lab for SNP Packs?
FTDNA uses Agena MassARRAY equipment for SNP Pack testing. It is based on mass spectometry technology and is used for medical applications. The following study found the MassARRAY system as reliable as Sanger Sequencing. "Detection of KRAS, NRAS and BRAF by mass spectrometry - a sensitive, reliable, fast and cost-effective technique", July 2015, by Kriegsmann, Arens, Weichert and Kriegsmann