Friday, May 17, 2013

How did I get this way...?

I have 2 parents, 4 grandparents, 8 great grandparents, and 16 great great grandparents... The number progression continues: 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64, 128, 256, 512, and 1024...  If I go back 10 generations I have 1024 individuals who have contributed, more or less equally, to the collection of genes in my chromosomes.  And that number continues to double with each additional generation I go back...  I clearly am related to a whole lot of people! 
Bohemian and Moravian community Delia Kansas about 1890

One of the most reliable genetic markers for men is to follow the linage of the Y chromosome.  Each of our normal cells has 23 pairs of chromosomes that we inherit from our parents.  One half of our chromosomes are inherited from each parent. But the 23rd pair is different... Females have two identical chromosomes that are labeled XX.  Men inherit one X from the mother and one that is notably smaller,  labeled Y, inherited from the father.

A small par3t of a DNA molecule model

 The 23rd pair in men is labeled XY.   So my Y-chromosomes have been copied and passed on from father to son since the earliest generations.   It is possible to follow the lineage of the Y chromosome over time.  Out of my 4 grandparents only my fraternal grandfather supplied the Y chromosome to my father... Out of my 16 great great great grandparents only one supplied the Y to my great great grandfather...

Both the X and Y chromosomes, like other chromosomes,  are made up of  great lengths of coiled DNA strands that carry the individuals genetic code information

Females inherit the DNA of their mitochondria in a similar pattern directly along matriarchal family lines.  My mother’s mitochondrial DNA information was passed to my sister but not to me, since I am not female.

While the genetic information we receive is mostly passed accurately from one generation to the next, small errors do occur in the genetic copying process.  These changes are called “mutations”.  Most of them are minor and have no great effect on the characteristics. The mutations are faithfully passed on to all later generations, and serve as markers in tracing our lineage. 

A small number of my Bohemian ancestors

I sent a sample of my DNA (collected on a swab from my mouth) to the Human Genographic Project
The project now has information from almost 600 individuals in 140 countries. A study of my Y-chromosomes compares 25 basic identified genes that are used to show degree of relatedness.  All the people in a single human group (gene pool) with the fewest number of mutations in these marker genes would represent the oldest original human population.

Early humans migrated vast distances - and in the process formed isolated genetic pools each with their own characteristic mutations

Another group of people have the same pattern but with one common identified genetic mutation – this group must have been later and genetically isolated from the first group, by migration.    Still another group with 2 mutations must have separated still later and been genetically isolated... By study of the world population groups, it is possible to work out the sequence of separation and migration of the various human population groups from the original “least changes” oldest population. 

Undoubtedly some of my early ancestors were stone workers - early forming of stone tools represented the highest level of technology in its time

When I sent in my sample they only had to identify which mutations I have in my Y chromosomes and compare them with the human migration sequence to identify the sequence of migration of the ancestral men in my lineage that passed along the Y chromosome from one generation to the next.

My record shows that all the Zlatnik males descendent from Grandfather Antonin Zlatnik are part of a linage that can be traced back to bronze age Celts in central Europe.  It can also be identified that  before the Celts,  the linage passed through early Cro-Magnon humans (the group famous for cave paintings, and hunting mastodons) .

Bohemian Celtic sculpture

During the time of the great Ice Ages, they had migrated from Central Asia, and before that, still earlier generations had migrated from the region of present day middle east, even earlier ancestors can be traced back into Africa.
Earlier ancestors were in many ways identical to modern humans but the development of cultural life evolved slowly

All of this information can be inferred from long study of  current day human populations and the information in my Y-chromosomes!
Every time that the Human Genographic society finds someone with identical marker genes to mine I am notified... and I now have 163 identified matches with 12 marker genes in common, and 1 with 25 marker genes in common.  We are undoubtedly related with a common ancestor.  None of these folks have the same last name – the person with 25 genes in common is of Bohemian origin, like my family, and its frustrating that there is no way to determine our exact relationship.  Still genes can't lie!

Contributors to my gene pool