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DNA PROJECT

     This article is an example of the interesting articles found in our quarterly newsletter.  To receive this newsletter, please consider becoming a member of our association.
     Ever wonder if Jean Daigle & Olivier Daigle were actually related?  The Daigle association has started a project through genealogical DNA analysis to possibly determine just that.  At our annual meeting we gave away a free DNA analysis as a door prize.  The winner has a clear lineage to Olivier Daigre through his mother.  Since the drawing, we have had several people come forward to contribute their own DNA analysis to the Daigle DNA Database with Family Tree DNA.  The association is currently sponsoring the DNA testing for a descendant of the Jean Daigle line.  We are anxiously waiting the results of this test and comparison. If you are interested in further information and the cost of getting your own DNA Genealogical Analysis, contact Bob Perkins.
     This article will soon carry an account of the first results of the DNA analysis which we are having run and this should address the mitochondria.  The mitochondria is a very primitive DNA which does not reside in the nucleus of the cell with the chromosomes.  Instead, it is located in the cytoplasm of nearly all cells of living organisms and is not known to contribute to any traits, features, or characteristics of the organism as does the DNA located in the nucleus.
     In fact, the mitochondria may have existed as an independent organism at one time, but eons ago was either ingested by or invaded another organism and was able to survive.  Over time it and its host began to contribute to each other's well being, establishing a symbiotic relationship between the two.  A contribution which the mitochondria makes to this relationship is the production of a fuel that provides the cell with a higher level of energy than would otherwise be available to it.  In return it receives a very protective environment among other benefits.
     There are several qualities of the mitochondria which make it very valuable in genealogy.  Its DNA is very small, mutations are relatively rapid, and it is passed from one human generation to the next by becoming part of the cytoplasm of the egg cells, thus escaping modification in the process of reproduction.  Thus, the mitochondria of the mother is the same as the mitochondria of her children, but is passed on only by the daughters.
     This means that the mitochondria of every female alive today is the same as her mother's, as her grand mother's, as her great grand mother's on back to the first female in the line and has been changed only by mutations which have occurred in it and the rate at which these mutations occur has been determined.
     Having this knowledge, Dr. Bryan Sykes of Oxford University set about tracing the female linage of a number of women.  In doing so, he has made some startling discoveries which he has set forth in his book, "The Seven Daughters of Eve".  Among his findings is the discovery that all women who are descended from western European DNA can trace their origin back to one of seven females who lived in ancient times and who were members of different groupings of DNA which have been designated as haplogroups.  The female ancestor of these seven groups is thought to have resided in Africa.
     These seven groups are not all the same age but knowing the rate of mutation in the mitochondria permits the calculation of the estimated age of the groups and it is estimated that the oldest group is some 50,000 years.  Members of this group, then, were alive before the recent Ice Age began its retreat and may have had Neanderthals as neighbors.
     Our mtDNA analysis will, in all probability, reveal which haplogroup the Daigle family descended from and we can then begin the archaeological research which will allow us to reconstruct with some degree of accuracy the conditions through which our DNA has descended to us.
     The question of the relationship, if any, between the Olivier and Jean descendants will have to wait until we have a Jean Daigle descendant's DNA sample to compare to the Olivier sample which we now have.  Besides the person who won the DNA analysis drawing, we have had several people come forward to contribute to our Daigle DNA Database.  If you are interested in doing so, (particularly if you are descended from Jean Daigle) feel free to contact Bob Perkins for further information.

This article contributed by:  Bob Perkins

Sources: 1. Bryan Sykes, "The Seven Daughters of Eve", New York W.W. Norton, 2001.  2. Family Tree DNA, Facts and Genes.