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submitted by Dean Coroneos on 26.07.2005

Genealogy and Genes.

DNA Markers. A Human Road Map.

By Steve Meacham

Sydney Morning Herald. Tuesday July 26th. 2005. Page 11.

The National Geographic Society’s Genographic Project -launched in Washington, in April, -will attempt to trace the 60,000-year history of human migration using DNA analysis.

“Our DNA tells a fascinating story of the human journey: how we are all related and how our ancestors got to where we are today,” the project leader, Spencer Wells, an American geneticist and anthropologist, says. “This project will show us some of the routes early humans followed to populate the globe and paint a picture of the genetic tapestry that connects us all.”
The Genographic website says 10 research centres worldwide will collect and analyse blood samples from indigenous groups living in the most remote locations. The plan is to collect the largest gene bank in the world. From this, the research team will identify and track “genetic markers” -naturally occurring random mutations to DNA.

Each genetic marker is a branch of the human family tree. For example one Y chromosome mutation - M173 - is carried by 70 per cent of English men, 95 per cent of Spanish men and 95 per cent of Irish men. Wells says the reason so many western Europeans share it is because “it defines an expansion in the end of the last Ice Age as people moved north out of ancient Spain”.
“We need to take a genetic snapshot of who we are as a species before the geographic and cultural contexts are lost in the melting pot,” says Wells.
Wars, environmental disasters and increasing globalisation are making the world less culturally and genetically diverse.
Though the project - run with IBM - focuses on indigenous populations, others can take part. National Geographic kits at $US99.95 ($131) allow people to take a swab, send it to a laboratory in Arizona, and track the information as it unfolds on the Geno­graphic website.

For details of the Genographic Project:

For the Society of Australian Genealogists

For the Ryerson Index

For the National Library of Australia's guide to family history and genealogy on the internet:

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