Site uses DNA and social networks to trace ancestors

New GeneTree offering promises to trace lineage of users back to the 1500s

GeneTree, a new genealogy site set to launch on Tuesday, adds a new twist to online family history searches by allowing users to submit their own DNA and to collaborate with others using social networking tools.

The new site is being launched by several companies owned by Salt Lake City-based Sorenson Cos., including Sorenson Media and the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation (SMGF), which operates a genetic database that contains DNA samples from 80,000 people in 170 countries.

GeneTree will expand that database as users send in cheek swabs to be analyzed by Sorenson Genomics, a Web-based DNA testing company. The new site also will use digital video compression technology developed by Sorenson Media to let users share pictures and video clips on the site to create interactive digital family trees, noted James Lee Sorenson, CEO of GeneTree.

"GeneTree is a family history sharing Web site," Sorenson said. "It uses DNA to extend the concept of family. We enable [users] to connect and share with close and distant family. Once an individual has submitted their DNA ... that is compared against the database, and we can show people how they connect in he past and the present."

For between US$99 and US$149, users can submit DNA samples to be matched against dozens of subgroups of DNA. It will then be used to map the global origin of a person's ancestors and digitally show the migration of relatives throughout the world to discover a family's history that may predate written records.

For example, SMGF recently collected 3,000 DNA samples of the tribes of Mongolia, noted Scott Woodward, executive director and chief scientific officer of the foundation.

The program also allows users to set up social networking sites to post photos, videos and other content for families and individuals.

Woodward noted that GeneTree will analyze only a piece of a the mitochondrial DNA, which traces a person's family history on his mother's side.

"Every single person in the world today belongs to a very specific DNA subgroup," he said. "We have a history that is locked in that mitochondrial DNA. By looking at mitochondrial DNA, we can trace a very specific pattern back through your family history. We can tie those patterns back to common ancestors and to a woman back in the past who was the mother to us all."

The piece of DNA that GeneTree analyzes does not contain the genetic coding material that may indicate a higher likelihood of a disease like breast cancer. In addition, the program requires that all personal information like names and birth dates be stored separately from the genetic information to ensure security, Woodward said.

GeneTree does not reveal the names of people born in the past 100 years, to ensure that only the names of deceased people are available, he said. Furthermore, Woodward added, all the information on the site about a person is visible only to that user, unless he opts to share information about himself with family members who contact him through GeneTree.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Heather Havenstein

Computerworld
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?