May 01, 2008

The DNA Fund

Via the Genetic Genealogist, a link to the new DNA Fund:

The mission of The DNA Fund is to advance public knowledge through the funding of human genetics testing and research. The DNA Fund will achieve this by providing funding for ancestral DNA studies that will directly benefit the public by:

* Providing DNA testing grants
* Coordinating DNA testing scholarships by private donors
* Obtaining grant funding for designated ancestral DNA studies

Proposed genetics studies for which funding is needed:

* Eastern/Balkans/Middle East R1b 67-100 STR marker haplotypes of a small sample of the rarer clades via upgrades and also fully SNP tested.
* Mitochondrial DNA analysis of Punjabi population of Pakistan.
* Hungarian-Bukovina Y-chromosome testing.
* Investigating the Phylogeny of mtDNA Haplogroup T based on Full mtDNA Sequences
* SNP research of internal branching within Haplogroup F, along branches leading to [IJ] and G
It looks like an "open-source" grass roots Genographic-like project, which has the potential for solving a lot of interesting problems. For example, with respect to the last bullet, haplogroup F according to the latest tree has 8 different branches; one of them, IJ united two previously separate branches, but that may not be the whole story. In 2000, Semino et al. suggested (pdf):
Haplotypes Eu9, Eu10, and Eu11share the 49a,f haplotype 8 or its derivatives, which are not observed in any of the other 16 Eu haplotypes (19), suggesting a shared common ancestry.
So, perhaps G and IJ remain to be united by a yet-undiscovered internal node of the phylogeny. Finding internal nodes is not really interesting for genealogy, but is important for prehistory, since they help us fine-tune ancient population movements.

Not included in the list, but a problem that really needs to be addressed is the phylogenetic structure within haplogroup R1a1. As Derenko et al. noted in 2005:
Yet, our data on Y-chromosome STRs variation (Table 4, Fig. 4) demonstrate the clear differences between South Siberian and Eastern European (Russian) R1a1-lineages, which can be best explained by apparently ancient than very recent events in South Siberian population history.
Similarly, Sengupta et al. noted:
A PC plot of R1a1-M17 Y-microsatellite data (Figure 4) shows several interesting features: (a) one tight population cluster comprising S. Pakistan, Turkey, Greece, Oman and West Europe, (b) one loose cluster comprising all the Indian tribal and caste populations, with the tribal populations occupying an edge of this cluster, and (c) Central Asia and Turkey occupy intermediate positions. The upper and lower bounds of the divergence time between the two clusters is 12 kya and 8 kya, respectively.
There are many such loose ends in Population Genetics, and hopefully the DNA Fund will do its part to tie some of them.

1 comment:

Joe said...

Let's hope that the DNA Fund will shed light to some problems and won't make them look more complicated than before!