Basic Molecular Biology: The Cell and DNA
From The National Human Genome Project
A short, narrated
of how the information in DNA is used by the cell to manufacture proteins,
produced by The National Human Genome Project.
The animation progresses from cells to the nucleus, chromosomes to DNA,
and the scale, structure, and function of the human genome is portrayed.
The mechanism of converting genetic instructions into active proteins is
explained through accurate 3D animation of the processes of transcription
Talking Glossary of Genetic Terms
The National Human
Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) has also created the Talking Glossary of
Genetic Terms to help people without scientific backgrounds understand the
terms and concepts used in genetic research.
What is DNA?
What is a gene?
What is a chromosome?
What is inheritance?
What is a protein?
What is mitosis/meiosis?
Another section of the same website
has sections on
From the National Center for
A Science Primer
What Can Our Chromosome Tell Us at the Genetic Science Learning Center
website. Particularly interesting are pages describing and explaining
chromosomal abnormalities (mixed
up pieces of chromosomes?,
too many / too few chromosomes?,
missing pieces of chromosomes?).
Fact Sheets from the National Institute of Standards and Technology
While the use of STRs (Short Tandem Repeats) for
genetic mapping and identity testing has become widespread among DNA
typing laboratories, there is no single place where information may be
found regarding STR systems. This web site is an attempt to bring together
the abundant literature on the subject in a cohesive fashion to make
future work in this field easier.
sequence information on each STR system,
data, commonly used
and conditions, and a review of various
for analysis of STR alleles have been included in this database.
for scientists and
organizations working in
this area have also been included as well as a
comprehensive reference listing of material on STRs used for DNA
typing purposes. It includes a brief introduction about STRs.
Applications in Human Anthropology,
History, and Genealogy
Kayser, Manfred , Michael Krawczak, Laurent Excoffier,
Patrick Dieltjes, Daniel Corach, Vincente Pascali, Christian
Gehrig, Luigi F. Bernini, Jørgen Jespersen, Egbert Bakker, Lutz Roewer,
and Peter de Knijff,
An Extensive Analysis of Y-Chromosomal
Microsatellite Haplotypes in Globally Dispersed Human Populations,
Am. J. Hum. Genet. 68:990–1018, 2001
Bradman, Neil and Mark Thomas,
"Why Y? The Y Chromosome in the study of
human migration and prehistory" Science Spectra, Number 14, 1998
"Why Study the Y: Chromosome reveals the path
of ancient humans"
Stanford Report, November 8, 2000
Schurr, Theodore G.
"The Story in the Genes Genetic Research Finds More,
Older Options for First Americans" reports on studies using DNA to
examine the origins of Native Americans
(The archeaologytoday site is apparently undergoing a complete redesign
and this link is not currently working. Keep checking.)
Sykes, Bryan and Catherine Ervin,
"Surnames and the Y Chromosome" Am. J.
of Hum. Gen 66: 1417-1419, 2000
The Y chromosome as a marker for the history and structure
of human populations , September 2001
Jorde, L. B., W. S. Watkins, M. J. Bamshad, M. E. Dixon, C. E. Ricker,
M. T. Seielstad, and M. A. Batzer,
The Distribution of Human Genetic
Diversity: A Comparison of Mitochondrial, Autosomal, and
Y-Chromosome Data, Am. J. Hum. Genet. 66:000-000, 2000
Kayser, Manfred, Lutz Roewer, Minttu Hedman, Lotte Henke, Jurgen Henke,
Silke Brauer, Carmen Kruger, Michael Krawczak, Marion Nagy, Tadeusz
Dobosz, Reinhard Szibor, Peter de Knijff, Mark Stoneking, and Antti
Characteristics and Frequency of Germline mutations at
Microsatellite Loci from the Human Y Chromosome, as Revealed by Direct
Observation in Father/Son Pairs. Am. J. Hum. Genet. 66: 1580-1588,
Beyond the Broadcast
Surnames, Genes and Genealogy
"The Polymerase Chain Reaction", Breakthroughs in
M. F. Hammer,
A. J. Redd, E. T. Wood, M. R. Bonner,
H. Jarjanazi, T. Karafet, S.
Santachiara-Benerecetti, A. Oppenheim, M. A.
Jobling, T. Jenkins, H. Ostrer, and B.
"Jewish and Middle
Eastern non-Jewish populations share a common pool of Y-chromosome
(from the lab that does the testing for Family Tree DNA)
Agnar, Sigrún Sigurðardóttir, Jayne Nicholson,
Bryan Sykes, Emmeline W. Hill, Daniel G. Bradley,
Vidar Bosnes, Jeffery R. Gulcher, Ryk Ward,
and Kári Stefánsson,
Estimating Scandinavian and
Gaelic Ancestry in the Male Settlers of Iceland, Am. J.
Hum. Genet., 67:697-717, 2000
JF, Weiss DA, Richards, M, Thomas MG, Bradman N &
Goldstein DB (2001)
Genetic evidence for different male and female
roles during cultural change in the British Isles, Proc.
Natl. Acad. Sci USA, 89: 5078-5083.
simple game from NOVA that explains the use of the Y chromosome to build
a family tree. You will need Macro Media's "Shockwave" to
play, and the game is simplistic and tends to minimize the complexity of
the science behind the science. Interesting nonetheless.
How It's Done: Techniques,
Yourself is an interactive presentation that is companion
to NOVA's "Cracking the Code of Life. This presentation lays out the
process of DNA sequencing in layman's terms. It cleared up a few
things that I hadn't realized I didn't understand (and I'm a biologist!)
I recommend viewing this first then viewing the National Genome Project's
"How to Sequence a Genome" (see below)
It is also possible to
watch the entire program "Cracking the Code of Life" in segments from this
website. It is available in both QuickTime and RealVideo, and
closed captioned for deaf and hard-of-hearing viewers.
Watch the Program Here
From the National Genome
The National Human
Genome Project website, has a fantastic multimedia video entitled
Sequence a Genome"
"Animated and narrated segments presenting all the essential steps in
sequencing a genome. " It is presented in segments (below) which
seemed to load quickly and play smoothly despite the size of the files.
The "How To Sequence a Genome" video is a selection in the left column of
Building Libraries 327KB
E. Coli to Store and Copy DNA 647KB
Preparing DNA for Sequencing 230KB
Sequencing Reactions 1MB
Products of Sequencing Reactions 503KB
Separating the Sequencing Reactions 407KB
Reading the Sequencing Products 365KB
Assembling the Results 748KB
Working Draft Sequence 1MB
From the National Center for Biotechnology Information
to the various techniques used in molecular biology (some of which are
used in DNA testing for genealogy) Written for the layperson but
comprehensive. Topics include
From University of Michigan Medical School
How Do We Sequence DNA
Andy Vierstraete at the University of Ghent
A good discussion of PCR and DNA sequencing for the
Chris Pomery's DNA Portal
A plethora of information for the genealogical geneticist!
Also includes Chris Pomery's exhaustive collection of
links to surname projects currently underway. Because Chris's
list of links is so comprehensive and continually updated, I am only
providing a few links to Surname Projects rather than duplicate his
The Mumma Surname
The data for
this project is especially nicely formatted and presented for
interpretation. The whole project is a classic example of
appropriate use of DNA for genelaogy.
Duerinck Surname DNA
A lot of information and links!
Family Tree DNA
For those interested in more extensive DNA testing such as
for establishing paternity, identifying missing persons and other non-genelaogical
applications, there is a directory of a large number of DNA testing
requires some prior lab experience!
Shawn Carlson, editor of Scientific American's "The Amateur Scientist",
explains how you can carry out the polymerase chain reaction in your
kitchen. surf over to the Web site
of the Society for Amateur Scientists,
and click the "Forum" button. As a service to readers, the society is
offering a PCR kit containing all the necessary chemicals, as well as
latex gloves and containers to hold your PCR samples. The cost is $40.
Because the ethidium bromide included is a mutagen,
this kit will be sold only to adults. The
society can also supply an electrophoresis kit for $60. You may call the
society at 619-239-8807 or write to 4735 Clairemont Square PMB 179, San
Diego, CA 92117.
simulated, interactive look at cheek cells through a microscope try:
These databases have been generated by Manfred
Kayser and Mark Stoneking at the Max Plank Institute for Evolutionary
Anthropology Leipzig, Germany in cooperation with Mechthild Prinz (New
York City) and Lutz Roewer (Berlin). Their stated purpose is:
- the generation of reliable Y-STR
haplotype frequency estimates for minimal haplotypes and extended
haplotypes to be used in the quantitative assessment of matches in
forensic casework (paternity testing, criminal investigation)
- the assessment of male population
stratification among European and world-wide populations as far as
reflected by Y-STR haplotypes
The databases have been generated by typing Y chromosome markers from
volunteers in a variety of geographical locations. Multiple labs
have contributed data. While they are available for searching by the
public, they contain NO identifying information including the surnames.
Geographical distribution of haplotypes is reported but there is no
guarantee that the any haplotype is exclusive to any geographical
location. They are fun to search and compare but it would be naive
to draw any conclusions about surname origins based on matching values.
80 European population
11078 minimal haplotypes, 3237 of these are extended
Haplotype Reference Database for U.S. Populations
30 regional U.S. population samples:
10 African-American, 11 European-American, 9 Hispanic
1705 9-locus (minimal) haplotypes:
599 African-American, 628 European-American, 478 Hispanic
Kayser M, Brauer S, Willuweit S, Schädlich H, Batzer MA, Zawacki J, Prinz
M, Roewer L, and Stoneking M (2002) Online Y-chromosomal short tandem
repeat haplotype reference database (YHRD) for U.S. populations. Journal
of Forensic Sciences(2002), 47(3): 513-519
Database for Asia
13 Asian population samples
1864 minimal haplotypes, 302 of these are extended
DNA for Family
This inexpensive little
book explores the potential use of DNA for family history research.
Simplified genetic theory and case studies are examined and the usefulness
and problems of using DNA as a tool for genealogy are discussed. It is
written at a level to be understood by any lay person. Click on the link
for ordering information.
Sykes, Bryan, The Seven
Daughters of Eve: The Science That Reveals Our Genetic Ancestry,
available from Amazon.com:
As a former biology teacher I have a
large library of high school and introductory college biology textbooks.
The chapters on Molecular Biology are an excellent place to learn or
review the basics of DNA.
You might even call your local high
school science department to see if they have any discontinued textbooks
you might borrow. Quite often they are saved for reference but you
might get lucky.
One of my favorites is:
Purves, William K., David Sadava,
Gordon Orians, and H. Craig Heller, Life, The
Science of Biology, sixth edition, 2001, W. H. Freeman & Co,
address orders to:
VHPS/W. H. Freeman & Co. Order
16365 James Madison Highway
US Route 15
Gordonsville, VA 22942