The Main Stream

May 25, 2010 1:39 PM

Searching for ancestral roots

TUCSON - GeneTree, a Utah based company, is hoping to help people establish ancestral connections.

For the last 10 years, the company has created a database of more than 100,000 DNA samples and documented records from countries all over the world.

Dr. Scott Woodward said, "We asked people to give their information about parents, grandparents and great grandparent's families; as far back as they can go with DNA sample, we put data in database. One half is DNA, the other half is written genealogical information."

DNA is collected through a mouthwash. Genealogists and geneticists look at the hyper variable regions of Mitochondrial (mtDNA) of those samples and can classify them into related groups called haplogroups. And find that related groups often have common geographical origins.

Woodward said, "We felt that if we could show the people of the world how closely they were in fact related to each other, if we could take 2 people who didn't know each other and had no reason to believe that they were connected and sit them down at the table and show them that they were connected.

The company hopes that finding such connections would change the way people act toward each other. "That's really why we got into this business to help people find those connections and those relationships and change the way that they think about each other," Woodward said.

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