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SNP Packs

In 2015, FTDNA began offering bundles of 100± SNP tests for ~$100. These bundles, called "SNP packs" are individually designed to test relevant SNPs for particular haplogroups. For a list of them and their contents, refer to this page.

Mike W has granted us permission to publish here his opinion of them.

Mike's Take

From: ISOGG @ yahoogroups.com
Sent: Friday, September 18, 2015 4:05 PM
To: ISOGG Yahoo
Subject: [ISOGG] New breed of SNP Packs from FTDNA

The newer SNP packs coming out from FTDNA are more robust and multi-purpose.

All of this depends on the pack and its design, but I think we've seen a glimpse of this in new R1b Packs for Z255, L513, DF41 and L1065.

Packs are NOT a haplotree dependent bundle of SNPs. They can and should include key and lead SNPs that mark branches on the tree. This drives haplogroup assignments for project and matching screens. However, packs can easily have 100 SNPs in them and the nature of the packs are that everyone gets tested for everything in the pack, all in one fell swoop.

This can help prove branching for formal trees like the haplotree.This is very useful in combination with the project Y DNA SNP report screens.

The all in one fell swoop approach can help discover new branching among existing phylogenetic equivalent blocks of SNPs. Phylogenetic equivalent blocks are temporal in nature. They are only equivalent "so far" but at any time, the next individual tested can bust a block up. Many of the equivalent SNP blocks discovered via Big Y are only tested by a handful of people, some times only two people. A properly designed SNP pack can help exercise equivalent SNPs to see if additional branching can be discovered.

Packs can include SNPs "under investigation" to give them a good workout and provide more information for applicability to formal trees. Some newly discovered SNPs may be marginal and need further testing. BAM file interpretations are not called interpretations without reason. Chromo 2 SNPs or those discovered only by FGC or YFull are good examples too that might be included in packs.

However, keep in mind that Next Generation SNP discovery testing is what drives the availability of all of these new SNPs for these packs. A test like Big Y is still the best way to go for those who can afford it.

Mike W


Our Take on Mike's Take

We think these are the "takeaways" from the above.

  1. SNP Packs are much better than the "Deep Clade" tests they replaced. They go much deeper.
  2. They are not, however, replacements for the Big Y, which tests many orders of magnitude more SNPs


In case you're not familiar with some of the terms, here are some definitions:

{Source.} Single Nucleotide Polymorphism (SNP which is pronounced 'snip'): Variation in the nucleotide allele at a certain nucleotide position in the human genome. When the change occurs it is called a polymorphism, and polymorphisms accumulate over time. A polymorphism can be very common (found in a significant fraction of global or localized populations) or very rare (found in a single individual). Common variations are used to track the evolution of the human genome over time (population genetics) and can be graphically represented in a haplogroup or phylogenetic tree.
Z255, L513, DF41 and L1065
SNPs associated with different subclades of R1b and also the names of particular SNP packs.
Big Y
A Y-SNP test to explore deep direct paternal ancestry. See the FTDNA page.
BAM file
A digital (computer) file containing the output of a Big Y test. It can be very large.
Chromo 2
A Y-DNA test of SNPs offered by BritainsDNA. See the ISOGG Wiki.
Full Genomes Corporation offers Y-DNA tests of STRs and SNPs by Next Generation Sequencing. See the ISOGG Wiki.
A company which offers interpretation of test results, using the reports from testing providers. See the ISOGG Wiki.
Next Generation Sequencing (NGS)
A new method of testing DNA relying on highly-automated optical and electronic reactions (capillary electrophoresis), rather than purely chemical reactions. In high-production modes, it is faster and cheaper than prior, semi-automated methods. See the ISOGG Wiki, an article by Illumina (a manufacturer of the chips used), and another in Nature.