#DNADilemma, 23andMe, adoption, ancestry, Asians, average Joe, Boonsri Dickinson, Central Asia, chromosomes, crimes, deCODEme, DNA, dominant traits, Europe, family, Family Tree DNA, Flash, Frank Warren, genes, genetic test, genetic wheel, genetics, Genographic Project, geopolitics, Google, Gregor Mendel, guns, Han Chinese, interactive, Manchu, Mary Carmichael, National Geographic, Navigenics, Newsweek, parents, paternity tests, phenotype, PostSecret, recessive traits, recreational genetics, riding, science, scientific, traits, Twitter
This morning I woke up in somewhat of a mood-less state. As I lay in my bed in all of my grogginess, my thoughts all of a sudden turned to this genetic wheel exercise we did in my 7th grade science class once upon a long time ago when I lived in San Diego.
I swung my legs over the edge of my bed (generally what I do, allowing gravity to then help me actually out of bed) and hurriedly washed up and ran downstairs to my laptop to Google the said genetic wheel (except in my dazed mode I typed in “DNA palette” – definitely did not get what I wanted).
[Okay, fine, the other reason I was so motivated was because I was hungry, which is THE top reason for me to get out of bed when I don't need to.]
Eventually I found the genetic wheel I wanted, looking just as I remembered it.
Unlike once upon ago, the test is now available online to help you determine your genetic number. Now, this number really doesn’t tell you much about you. The value of this wheel is simply to show how different you are from your sister, your friend, etc. And of course, it’s a fun little activity for adolescents learning about Gregor Mendel and dominant and recessive traits.
So I took the online interactive Flash test to find my genetic number: 84. Then I went around the house and asked the random questions of my family – they still don’t know what in the world I was doing. My father’s is 92 and my mother’s is 27. My cousin (first, maternal) has a genetic number of 4.
Of course, this rudimentary genetic wheel can hardly be put up against any scientific standards, but it’s a nice introduction to recreational genetics.
I had never really thought about DNA testing other than in the realms of solving crimes and paternity tests until recently. The idea of recreational genetic testing was a foreign one to me until I saw a tweet from @Newsweek on one writer’s #DNADilemma. Newsweek’s General Editor Mary Carmichael was chronicling her decision on whether or not to take an at-home DNA test. Then mid-way during her week-long decision, @postsecret’s founder Frank Warren also tweeted about considering a direct-to-consumer genetics test. Obviously they aren’t the only ones to have considered or taken tests: journalist Boonsri Dickinson wrote several articles in the last few years on her exploits in exploring her personal history.
From some of the materials I’ve read it seems like these tests don’t really tell you too much that you don’t already know. They would be useful for, say, an adopted individual who had no idea of his or her parents’ ancestry, but less so for the average Joe who has a general idea of where the family is from. That said, I still would like to know just how dominant (or recessive) my Manchu genes are versus my Han Chinese traits, especially since physically I exhibit the traits of one over the other much more. Beyond phenotypes, is there a reason why I love riding and have great aim (with guns, not balls, for anyone who would like to make a snide remark about my hand-eye coordination skills)? Could I possibly be more closely related, genetically-speaking, to my friends from Central Asia and Europe than other Asians, as geopolitics have labeled us?
Unfortunately as a poor college student I won’t be shelling out any money toward recreational DNA testing just yet unless some generous company would like to send me one for free (tweet me @sunburstkisses anytime!).
Meanwhile, I’m looking forward to reading what Mary found out from her tests when and if she decides to write about her results.
I’m curious to hear about the everyday person’s experiences as well. Have you ever considered taking such a test? Have you taken one? What did you find out? Or if not, what would you want to find out? Or not find out?
Oh! And of course, take that genetic wheel test and let me know your number!