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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

GENOMA - Molecular Genetics Laboratory

It's been a little quiet the last few weeks. There have been few new results in the project, and no new relevant academic papers have caught my attention.

However, I have found a lab in Italy that can perform y-STR and mtDNA tests so I thought I'd mention it here.

Genoma is located in Rome, and offers a pretty wide array of genetic testing services. Many are medical or paternity-related, but they do offer a 17 loci y-chromosome STR test as well as HVR1 and HVR2 mtDNA testing. An Italian facility might be helpful if you intend to test Italian relatives: some Europeans are reluctant to send DNA to American labs.

The Y-STR test that Genoma offers is the Applied Biosystems AmpF/STR Yfiler kit, and Genoma charges 200 euros (about $254) per sample. The Yfiler kit is often used in academic studies and examines the following loci: DYS19, DYS385a/b, DYS389I/II, DYS390, DYS391, DYS392, DYS393, DYS437, DYS438, DYS439, DYS448, DYS456, DYS458, DYS 635 (aka Y GATA C4), and Y GATA H4. There are no commercial labs in the U.S. that offer all 17 loci, but the FamilyTree DNA 37-marker test and the Relative Genetics 43-marker test each overlap the Genoma test at 16 loci.

The Genoma 17 loci test offers what I would call moderate discriminatory capacity: somewhat better than a basic 12-marker tests but, because it omits some highly variable markers (e.g. DYS449 and DYS464a/b/c/d) it is notably less discriminatory than the 25-, 26, 37-, or 43-marker tests that are most popular in the U.S. I calculated the average mutation rate of the 17 loci Genoma panel to be about 0.0030.

For reference, I had eleven perfect 12-marker matches in ySearch and five perfect 17-marker matches. That's a notable improvement, but still a lot of false positives.

So, you get a $250 test with Genoma yields somewhat better discriminatory capacity than a $100 test with FTDNA or the Genographic Project BUT you have an Italian lab to work with. For some situations, that might not be a bad tradeoff.

I don't have all the details of the mtDNA tests yet, but I do know that the cost is the same (200 euros) and you'd get HVR1 and HVR2 results.

If you know of other Italian genetics labs that offer competitive services, please let me know via the comments link below or by emailing me (


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