FTDNA Announces Big Y-500 (over 400 new STRs!)

In conjunction with the National DNA Day Sales, FamilyTreeDNA.com announced the Big Y test is now called Big Y-500 and will include approximately 500 Y-STR results in addition to the SNPs that were traditional reported via the Big Y.

Everyone who has already taken a Big Y will receive updated results showing a 6th Panel of results with markers 111 through 561!  The additional panel was made possible by the recent Build 38 of the Human Genome.

According to the release notes to Group Administrators, “Customers who purchase a Big Y-500 will also have to purchase or upgrade to the Y-DNA111 test.  However, customers do not have to have a Y-STR test already before purchasing the Big Y-500 since it contains the Y-111.  Big Y without STRs will no longer be available.”

For PSHG members (or prospective PSHG members), where Y-111 is required for full membership, we can order the Y-111 test at a non-sale cost of $339 (normally $359).  The Y-111 to Big Y-500 Upgrade is normally $449 (which does not reflect sale prices).  This  totals $788 for those wanting full PSHG membership + access to their “Singleton” or Direct Paternal Lineage SNPs.  Since the Big Y-500 stand alone test is $799, there’s currently no benefit to recommend skipping an initial Y-111 test to go directly to ordering a Big Y-500.  This could change in the future if FTNDA offers a Group Discount for Big Y-500.

It is not yet clear how useful these additional results will be from a genetic genealogical point of view.  Support groups like the R1b-U106 project are not yet able to offer specific insight; however, Dr. Iain McDonald has made some speculations, as written in a forum post:

“- The new STRs are shorter and their mutation rates lower.  Very, very preliminary(!) work based on STR variances suggests the mutation rate in the new sample is around one mutation per 14 generations.  This contrasts with one per 3.4 generations for the original Y-111, and suggests an overall Y-STR mutation rate over the Y-500 STR set of once per 2.8 generations…

– There are some clearly useful, slow STR mutations in there that will define useful family branches in some cases where SNPs have not.  There are also some faster markers that appear to flip back and forth between two or more states.

– On the basis of this information, we should be able to use these results in several aspects of U106 research, including the layering of family trees and more precise computation of ages…Proper research on this will take many months…”

As usual with DNA research, time & research reveals new types of analysis and new results to consider.  The continued sharing of DNA information will enable researchers to continue their work to explain what it all means.

 

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