GRANT DNA FAQ
(Frequently Asked Questions)
How do I join the Grant DNA Project?
Go to this link: Join The Grant DNA Project
What is DNA?
Every living being is made up of DNA, the protein building blocks that describe you (your genes).
What is a Y Chromosome?
Human beings have 23 chromosome pairs (strands of DNA) in the nucleus of their cells. 22 chromosome pairs are non-sex related (autosomes). Men and Women are differentiated by the X or Y Chromosome at the 23rd chromsome pair. Women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y. This is why the Grant DNA project is limited to males - only men carry the Y chromosome.
What is a Y-STR?
STR stands for Short Tandem Repeat. These are patterns that occur in tandem. The count of these repeats gives you the value at a given locus (DYS) position. When your receive your results, you will receive the "count" at each loci (DYS) position. DYS 392=11, DYS 393=14, etc. These patterns are passed father to son along the Y-Chromosome with no change (no mutation, or very low frequency of mutation) for thousands of years. This is why the test can tell you with great certainty that you match another individual with whom you may have shared a common ancestor 200, 500 or even 1,000 years ago.
SNP stands for Single Nucleotide Polymorphism. Family Tree DNA explains it as: " Changes in the DNA that happen when a single nucleotide (A, T, G, or C) in the genome sequence is altered. A person has many SNP's that together create a unique DNA pattern for that individual". The SNP is a mutation that occured thousands or tens of thousands of years ago and is passed along by that father to all his descendants. During the Ice Age, many groups of human beings were isolated and these mutations developed within that population. As the ice retreated and human beings began to migrate in various directions, the mutation spred with them as an "identifier". Whereas your Y-STR values identify you as an individual, you also belong to a "haplogroup" that encapsulates a much larger population and is defined by the various SNP mutations that you carry. Your Y-STR values can be used to predict your haplogroup with some degree of accuracy. Family Tree DNA will show you your predicted haplogroup on your home page when your Y-STR results come back from the lab. However, you can only be certain of your haplogroup by ordering Family Tree DNA's SNP test.
Does the DNA test involve any blood - any needles?
No. Family Tree DNA uses "cheek scrapers". They are a swab that is rubbed around inside the mouth for a minute or so to collect cheek cells. No blood or needles is involved in taking the test.
Is the test painful?
I've yet to hear from anyone who thought so.
Why is the Grant DNA Project limited to males?
Because only men have a Y-Chromosome, which is what is tested. If you are female, and desire to know about your Grant ancestry, you'll have to find a close male relative to do the test. While women can participate by doing the Mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA) it won't tell you anything about your Grant ancestry as the mtDNA is passed mother to child.
How much does the test cost?
Go to this link:
Join The Grant DNA Project
How do I take the test - what do I do?
Once you join the project and pay for your test, Family Tree DNA will send you a "kit" with a unique ID #. When the kit arrives, you will get two "cheek scrapers" with detachable ends on them, two vials with preservative solution, and a self addressed envelope for returning the vials to Family Tree DNA.
There are instructions enclosed with your kit to tell you how to take the test, but if you just want to know before you order, here's how it goes:
1. Don't drink or eat anything for at least one hour before you do the test.
2. Rinse your mouth and wait (it's what I did).
3. Run each of the cheek scrapers around inside your mouth, against your cheeks, for about a minute (for each one). MAKE SURE YOU DON'T SET DOWN THE SCRAPERS OR LET THEM TOUCH ANYTHING - IT WILL CONTAMINATE YOUR SAMPLE AND INVALIDATE YOUR RESULTS!
4. Open the vials of preservative one at a time, and pop off the end of the "cheek scrapers" into one of the vials (for each scraper).
5. Close the vials, put them in the self-addressed envelope, and mail them. They will be sent to Family Tree DNA's laboratory.
How long does it take until I get my results?
About 6 to 8 weeks, depending on whether you did a good "scraping". Occassionally a kit owner does a bad job at doing the test and Family Tree DNA has to send you a new kit to do it again (at no additional cost).
Which version of the test should I choose, the 12 marker, 25 marker, or 37 marker test?
We recommend you choose the 25 marker test at a minimum, as 12 markers (especially if you're in Haplogroup R1b as most people of European or British ancestry are) are simply not enough to determine a real and close match. 37 markers is ideal, as it refines matches to a degree that a real relationship can be determined with another person, and you get a finer predicition on your Most Recent Common Ancestor (MRCA). We strongly urge you to take the 37 marker test if you can afford it.
How will I know if I match somebody in the project?
Family Tree DNA will send you an alert e-mail if you match someone in the project at a very close level. Typically Jon or myself, the Project Administrators, will also send you an alert.
How will I know if I match somone outside the project?
It depends on your privacy requests. If you told Family Tree DNA to keep your information private, you won't be told if you match anyone outside the project. You can adjust this setting on your project page once you join and your results are back. Keeping all your information private is kind of pointless. If you're joining the project, you probably want to know if you match another person very closely. If you don't, well, that's up to you.
I'm concerned about privacy, this is my DNA after all, is it safe to join something like this?
This is probably the most asked question we get. Family Tree DNA is very aware of these concerns and they have addressed them. I have found that most privacy concerns are baseless, but some folks simply have a deep seated problem with this concept (putting their "DNA" out there). Keep in mind, Family Tree DNA is not running a full sequence of your entire genetic makeup. They are testing a simple 12, 25, or 37 loci on your Y-Chromosome. Whether you join is up to you, but we feel the benefits of the information far outweigh any concerns about privacy.
What's a Haplogroup?
Every individual in the project (males, in this case) falls into an overall "haplogroup" which are branches in the human family that happened thousands, or tens of thousands of years ago. Based on your Y-STR results, you will be categorized as belonging to one of these haplogroups by Family Tree DNA. They do this through a "predicition" algorithm that checks for "modal" values for given DYS positions. For instance, if you have an 11 at DYS 392 and 12 at DYS 426, then you have a huge probability of belonging to haplogroup R1a. Other haplogroups such as R1b, G2, I1a, Q, E3b, and J, all have similar modal values. In some cases, an individual has a really rare, or weird, Y-STR signature and Family Tree DNA is unable to predict your haplogroup leaving you in the "Unknown" category until you have an SNP test to confirm what haplogroup you belong to.
Certain haplogroups are specific to certain regions of the world. R1a is found in Eastern Europe, Asia and Norway, R1b is common throughout Western Europe and Britain, I is found in Northwestern Europe, Scandinavia, and Britain, and G is common to the Middle East as is Haplogroup J.
The Grant project has seen the following haplogroups turn up so far: E3a, G, G2, I, I1b, I1a1, N, R1a and R1b.
Haplogroup's can only be confirmed by an SNP test. The SNP (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) test looks at other types of mutations on the Y-Chromosome and is not based on your Y-STR data (though your Y-STR data can be used to strongly predict what your haplogroup will be). Family Tree DNA offers an SNP test (at an additional charge), once you get your results back, to confirm your haplogroup.
What's this business about Norse ancestry...the Grant's are Normans!
Researchers in the U.K. have spent an amazing amount of man years working on a re-examination of the most basic assumptions about the Clan's history and what they've uncovered is both startling and revealing. The original line of the Grant's that gave rise to the Clan Grant doesn't look to be "Norman" (though there are certainly Grant's within the project who could be of Norman descent) and the DNA Project is helping to prove this out. For details check out these links:
Weren't the Normans Vikings too?
The vast majority of Rollo the Ranger's (Hrolf Ganger) followers were Danish Vikings. The majority of the inhabitants of Denmark are of the haplogroup I (typically I1a) or R1b, and haplogroup R1a is found at very low levels there (this is a key factor in our project data). Though Rollo himself may have been Norse, the majority of his followers were apparently Danes and no one has ever suggested that the supposed "Norman" Chiefs of Grant were direct descendants of Rollo himself. Haplogroup R1a has virtually no presence in Normandy, or France in general, suggesting that if Rollo or any of his followers were haplogroup R1a then they left almost no trace of their genes in Normandy. The families of known Norman descent, names listed as followers of William the Conqueror, and who have undertaken DNA studies, show what we would expect to see as far as their DNA haplogroups...there is only a fraction of R1a among them, and they are overwhelmingly of haplogroup R1b or varients of I. Therefore we can confidently say that there is only a small chance that the haplogroup R1a presence in the Grant project has anything to do with the Normans. The evidence overwhelmingly leans toward Norse Viking origins just as the clan's origin documents (Monymusk Text and Cromdale Text) state.
So are the Grant's Norse or Norman?
The evidence in our DNA project, in conjunction with a re-evaluation of existing historical evidence, and the findings of our surname distribution study, give support to the origin accounts of the Clan Grant as detailed in the rediscovered, original manuscripts (Monymusk Text and Cromdale Text) which contain the earliest written accounts of the clan's origins (and are based on far older oral accounts, something that cannot be ignored). One R1a signature in our project (Kit # 21365) shows a Central Asian motif whose origins coincide with the origin legends of a group of Scandinavians (Wodine and "The Aesir"), supposedly the descendants of those that fled Troy after the Trojan War. This group is said to have come from beyond the Ural mountain, across the Russian Steppes and the Baltic Sea, and settled in Norway (exactly as the original clan manuscripts say). In fact, Thor Heyerdahl, of "Kon-Tiki" fame, spent the remaining years of his life attempting to prove that a group of Scandinavians had such an origin - see this page for details of this Scandinavian legend. The DNA evidence in the Grant project lends evidence to support a Norse Viking origin for at least one line of the clan, as well as supporting the legend that Andrew Stewart married the Grant heiress in the early 14th century, thus changing the male line's Y-STR DNA signature.
My family tradition says I'm related to General Ulysses S. Grant, will I know if I am related?
Virtually every Grant I have met or heard from shares some tradition of being related to General Grant. In most cases this is merely wishful thinking on the part of your ancestors. As the diversity of DNA in our project already shows, very few Grant's will actually be related to U.S. Grant by blood. Grant's ancestors came from southern England, and if they had Scottish ties they were prior to 1601. Until we have a confirmed, documented descendant of U.S. Grant as a member of the project (as of now, we don't), we cannot know what General Grant's DNA signature is or who is related, but it is far more likely his matches will be found in the south of England than in Scotland. Time will tell. If you are a documented descendant of Matthew Grant of Windsor, Connecticut or any of his descendants, please join our project!