Welcome to DNA Sydney

The DNA Sydney blog has supported the intermediate and advanced DNA Research Groups at the Society of Australian Genealogists since 2015.

We encourage you to join our DNA Sydney Facebook Group if you are interested in collaborating with other DNA researchers.

If you are new to DNA Research, learn how to Develop Your DNA Analysis Skills. The Society has an integrated DNA program to support all skill levels, including regular sessions for those new to DNA or those considering how DNA testing may assist in their research.

Follow the blog by clicking on the blue ‘Follow’ button (top right corner). For further information or to provide feedback or suggestions, please complete the contact form below.


Leave a comment

Changes at AncestryDNA

If you are concerned about the changes happening at AncestryDNA then this post by Roberta Estes is worth a read. There are several petitions listed near the end that you can consider signing. DNA Explained – Roberta Estes.

Leave a comment

Brick Wall Workshop: 22nd August – great opportunity!!!

The next meeting of the Intermediate DNA Research Group is scheduled for Saturday 22nd August. The Intermediate Group focusses on ‘applying tools in practice’.  There is a great opportunity for 2-3 people to have their brick wall analysed as part of the workshop! 

To allow participants to get the most out of the session, we are looking for “brick wall” ancestors who were most likely born in Australia, England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland after about 1850.  We’ll be looking at autosomal DNA testing results and related tools for ways to break down the brick wall.  Other DNA test results such as Y-DNA and mtDNA may be discussed if test results for the most appropriate target tester have already been undertaken.

To prepare for the session, successful applicants will firstly need to register for the session and also have time available during July and August to work with the group.  You will also be required to do some of your own analysis with support from a member of our team.  Here’s the link to the session in the Events Calendar.  

If you would like to participate please send your response to education@sag.org.au, as soon as possible! To be considered, you must ensure you answer all the questions below:

1. What is your DNA research goal?  Briefly outline your ‘brick wall’.  Eg Who is my paternal grandfather?  Or perhaps, ‘Who is this match that shares 200cMs with me?

2. What research have you undertaken so far?  What ‘facts’ do you know?  Briefly describe what you’ve done to break down the brick wall, if anything.

3. Have you or other family members done DNA tests? If so, what tests, where?  Do you have DNA data at multiple sites?  If so, which ones?

4. Are you willing to share the information uncovered with the group? 

If your brick wall is selected we will ask that you speak at the beginning and end of the session regarding your case.  It would only be about 2-3 minutes or so, outlining your research goal to provide context at the start and then at the end to sum up if/how the process helped you.  Our team will assist to prepare any necessary powerpoint slides.

5. Please provide your best email and phone contact details.

SAG Advanced DNA Research Team

*Christine Woodlands

*Michelle Patient

*Sue Dobson

*Veronica Williams

Leave a comment

Recent changes at AncestryDNA

I recently submitted a complaint to Ancestry about the recent withdrawal of AncestryDNA third party tools and their inability to provide us with a way to extract all our matches to be able to work with them (ie download a csv file). This is the ‘non-response’ I got, very unsatisfactory – what do they think I submitted! I would encourage everyone to voice their concerns via the link below!!

”Thank you for contacting Ancestry in regards to DNA tools. We regret any frustration and are happy to help. Use of third party tools is through an agreement of Ancestry and the company. If there is not the agreement, use of our information through the tools is unauthorized and not available. We would be able to submit feedback regarding your experience, and also your interest in the tools mentioned within your email. You would be able to submit additional feedback by following the steps here Providing Feedback About Ancestry


Major changes to WATO

Leah Larkin’s post today prompted me to try out the new v2 Beta version of the WATO tool on DNA Painter. I think it’s fabulous.

I was able to import a GEDCOM file from my family tree program (rather than having to manually add all the branches). Then I went through and added the amount of ‘Shared cM’ for the DNA matches I had identified. I manually added a few branches with ‘Add a child’ in order to add extra matches not yet in my GEDCOM file.

For me the best new feature was getting WATO itself to add all the hypotheses. When I wanted to add an extra match I sometimes chose to remove those suggested hypotheses, add another branch and then get WATO to again suggest hypotheses.

Because of the ease of creating the tree from a GEDCOM file, I actually chose to create 2 trees, from 2 different Most Recent Common Ancestors, so I could take account of the matches on one line or the other. (Make sure you remember to save your trees!)

The tool now also takes account of birth years in its relationship probability calculations.

I found the tool easy and quick to use – and also was thrilled that it confirmed my theory of the most likely place in the tree for the adoptee to ‘fit’. (I’ve recently arranged a DNA test to confirm the theory.)


Leave a comment

Great new ‘DNA Fan Charts’ innovation at Wikitree!

Great news! Wikitree has made available DNA fan charts, they are able to be produced to show you not only your ‘X chromosome inheritance path’, but also ‘Confirmed with DNA’! I liked the DNA Painter ‘DNA Confirmed’ tool but it lacked an ability to print it with names. Thanks Wikitree!

Here’s a link to the announcement – https://www.wikitree.com/g2g/1024207/have-you-seen-the-dna-features-of-the-new-fan-charts

Of course, Wikitree has strict rules about DNA confirmations, so make sure you follow them! https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Help:Confirmed_with_DNA

Leave a comment

Intermediate Session 1st Feb

Our next meeting of the Intermediate DNA Research Group is on 1 Feb when Christine Woodlands will be talking about the ‘What are the odds’ tool from DNA Painter. It’s sure to be an informative session so I hope many are planning to come along! At the morning DNA session we also like to have someone from the group share a DNA story, it can be a positive success story or not! it doesn’t need to be formal and would be limited to about 5-8 minutes. If you are coming along next week and have a story you would like to share with the group please let me know.

Leave a comment

Unlock MyHeritage free this week only

It is free to upload DNA tests from other companies to MyHeritage, however it usually costs US$29 to unlock the advanced DNA tools that make that worthwhile.

However according to today’s blog post, until midnight of 18 December 2019 it is free to do the unlock, providing access to those DNA tools forever.

For example, if you’ve tested at Ancestry.com you don’t see the actual locations (segments) where your DNA matches someone else. All the other main companies provide this information. This segment information allows you to say “I match A (on my maternal side) in the same place that I match B, and A and B match each other, so probably A and B share an ancestor who is also related to me”.

So you could consider downloading your DNA raw data from Ancestry, set up a free account at MyHeritage, upload the DNA test result file, do the free unlock – and you will have access to the segment information and the tools on MyHeritage that Ancestry didn’t tell you.

To download the raw data from Ancestry, go onto your DNA page and go to the Settings (top right) and ‘Download Raw DNA Data’.

More people in continental Europe & UK are testing with MyHeritage than the American companies, so if these are the people of interest to your family history, you should at least consider getting your DNA into the MyHeritage database. This free upload is one way of achieving that. MyHeritage also now has a great clustering tool, which allows you to group people who match each other, likely in the same way that they match you.

You do NOT need any subscription with MyHeritage. You can even have (one or multiple) trees of up to 250 people on MyHeritage & still stay with a free subscription.



I’ve updated the notes for DNAGedcom on the blog, in preparation for tomorrow’s meeting. See under ‘Tools’.

Kerry Farmer

1 Comment

Another quick question … Does anyone know the tool I can use to copy a GEDmatch family tree from the screeen and create an ahnentafel list?


%d bloggers like this: