DNA project explanation

The DNA Project
 The Ray Banks DNA project began in March 2005.  The purpose is to determine which Banks
  families are related to each other and determine to which groups from deep ancestry the ancient
  ancestors belonged.  All the male Bankses within the same family group will have almost the same
  exact DNA profile.  It is not necessary to test more than one or two male Bankses from each
  family whose members are known to be related to each other.

  The coordinator of this Banks project, Ray  Banks of Orlando, FL,  may pay for the
  testing in specific families in which he can construct a long pedigree.  The profiles of some families
  have already been established.  Those with short pedigrees who want to establish their connections
  are welcome to participate, but they will have to pay for their own testing.  The 37-marker Y-DNA 
  test is the standard test used, but in some cases the 12-marker test will be adequate.  This must
  be discussed on an individual basis.  Don't hesitate to ask if Ray will pay for a test because he can
  often construct the necessary pedigree.  But he is not paying for additional tests in families where
  the profile is established.

 The lab facilities of Family Tree DNA are being used.   It is one of several genealogical labs worldwide
 and was chosen after evaluating a number of factors.  Because different labs test different DNA 
 markers, it is preferable to have as many tests as possible done there to allow exact comparisons
 among participants.

General Information

Purpose of the Testing
The DNA testing allows us to determine with some degree of confidence whether one Banks family is related to another.   It also allows categorization as to the general geographical origin of the common male ancestors several thousand years ago.   This categorization is based on haplogroups (explained below).

How the test is performed
A small test kit is mailed to a participant.  He then runs a plastic stick around his mouth, inserts it into a little container and mails this back in pre-addressed envelope.  Weeks later the results are provided, including a certificate version mailed to the mailing address.

The DNA test is restricted to males
As will be explained, only men can participate because only they have a specific type of DNA component that is most useful for this type project.  For purposes of the Banks project, only those who have some confidence there have been no adoptions or other interruptions in their direct male Banks line should participate in the Banks project.  Thus the participant must be a man bearing the Banks surname.

Y-Chromosome Test
Mutations occur within the strands of DNA which every human carries.  The Banks DNA project is testing in a certain way the male (Y) chromosome portion of DNA which every male carries, passed by the father to the son almost unchanged when the first embryonic cell is created.   The other chromosomes are mostly random mixtures of father and mother DNA and are not appropriate for this specific type of testing. 

The Y chromosomes of father and son will have a few uncommon mutations caused by imperfections in the system by which enzymes make copies of DNA (called replication slippage).  Certain areas of the DNA strand are most prone to these mutations, and the genealogy testing labs choose these sites for their tests.  Actually, they prefer a combination of sites that seldom mutate and others that mutate a little more frequently.   The slower mutations help locate groups, and the faster mutations help distinguish more recent changes within closely related families. 

The Banks DNA project does not post on the Internet birth data, addresses and similar information about living persons or participants.  Participants have the option of whether they would like searchers to contact them or have the coordinator assume that responsibility.   However, participants must agree to the publishing of the test results as those associated with specific deceased Banks ancestors.  Otherwise the testing would have no purpose.

In 2008, national legislation passed in the United States forbidding the use of any DNA testing as a consideration by insurance companies.  However, there is no concern about any of this with Y-chromosome testing.  The Y-chromosome tested for our family history testing does not test any markers that are related to any medical conditions.  The medical conditions result from changes to genes, and the Y chromosome does not carry many genes.  In some species the Y-chromosome is entirely lacking, showing the unusual lack of function of this chromosome. 

In addition, this test used here is not the standard test used by the FBI in the United States and other large police organizations.  Our test can only test men, and the markers chosen do not show as much variability as would be desired in an investigative DNA test used to pinpoint a unique DNA pattern.  Our test can only determine if someone shared the same male ancestor within 500 years, and a number of other related men will have nearly identical results.

More Information
For additional information on the entire international project, please connect to
Worldfamilies is sponsoring this Banks project.  Although some of the information there is very technical, you might find the most frequently asked questions section of most use if you are not a scientist.

There have been several persons who have had their DNA tested at each of the various family history DNA labs to check for consistency and found them to report consistent results.  Two persons check the results at Family Tree DNA lab before reporting them.  In addition, the lab has reported  logical near matches among some of our Banks families without having knowledge of the backgrounds or relationships of the participants.  Should some result seem questionable, consideration will be given to having the lab rerun the test or having another sample tested with a different lab.  This has not yet been necessary.  If the result reported within a particular Banks family later has not matched any other Banks family, we will want to obtain a sample from another branch of that family to confirm that there was not an unsuspected break in the Banks line through adoption. or in other ways.  Persons being tested must be prepared for unexpected DNA results that sometimes occur.  The testing has already ruled out certain broad family relationships that were anticipated and established some that were not expected.  It is also possible that near cousins are not genetically related though no living person was aware of such a situation.

Cost of the Testing
Any male Banks worldwide biologically descended from other male Bankses is welcome to join the project and have DNA testing.
For those men whom Ray Banks sponsors for this project, there is no charge.  Those he sponsors need to have a long pedigree which can be verified so that a large number of persons will have the same DNA profile.  And sponsored persons must be from families that do not have established profiles.   For those who otherwise order their tests through the Banks project there, there is a group discount.  Otherwise, regular fees would apply.   The lab used by Worldfamilies is one of four of the world-class labs doing this type testing, and the lab (Family Tree DNA) and its associated scientists have actually discovered some of the markers tested.  Here is a link to the order page for the Banks project if you are not ordering through Ray Banks. 
http://www.familytreedna.com/surname_join.asp?code=W81218&special=True  If you do not order through Ray Banks, please provide him your Banks ancestry, listing you and all your male Banks ancestors known to you.  The discounted price for 37 Y-DNA markers is $149 US plus postage (unless it is on sale).

To qualify for the Ray Banks payment, you must contact him directly Contact Ray Banks 
The markers on the Y chromosome
The 37 markers of the Y chromosome being used for the Banks DNA project are reported as numbers.  These represent the length of segment of a DNA site.  The varying lengths are caused primarily by insertions or deletions at certain points during the slightly imperfect process that creates a new strand.  An insertion increases the number and length; a deletion does the opposite.  There is some variation in how parts of the large DNA chromosome are prone to deletion or insertion.  The final scientific article on this subject listed below specifically observed the changes at the portion of DNA used in our genealogy testing and found insertions to outnumber deletions by a ratio of 5 to 2.   Although the number of mutations was not large in this study, this is all that is available and would seem to argue that marker values in deep ancestry will tend to be lower.  For example, where value ranges at a marker are reported to range  from 11 to 15 among all test subjects, the 14 and 15 would seem to be more recent changes within the haplogroup.  There may or may not be flaws in this logic.
1994 Deletion bias found in rates of insertion and deletion in non-coding parts of DNA in primates.
1995 Deletion bias in rates of evolutionary insertion and deletion in pseudogenes
2002: Bias toward insertion in nucleated cells.
2003 Deletions more common in pseudogenes
2003: Deletions more common than insertions in coding parts of DNA.
2000: Expansion of size more common in short DNA repeats; contraction in longer ones.
2000: Bias toward lengthening found in short-tandem repeats on Y chromosome
2005: Bias toward lengthening found in short-tandem repeats on Y chromosome

Mutation rates.
Scientists have prepared charts and calculation programs that allow one to calculate how many generations lie between one test subject and another test subject and their most recent common ancestor.  This is not a precise number, but rather a range of numbers.  Probably the most useful portion of these graphs is the maximum number of generations.   Typically, a single DNA marker will experience a mutation once in every 500 generations.  My math may not be precise, but typically a 12-marker group should have one mutation every 24 generations, and a 37-marker group should have a mutation every 3 generations.  The range of possibilities includes no mutations in 500 generations at one extreme and multiple mutations in a single generation at the opposite extreme—these extremes are both very rare events.  Occasionally a mutation will change the value by two numbers rather than one.  A firm definition of generation does not exist but is somewhere between 25 and 30 years.  I usually use 30 yrs to be conservative.
Mutation rates in sperm DNA from single individuals
Mutation rates in Y chromosome in large number of father and son pairs
Mutation rate found in 692 N. American father-son pairs, Y chromosome loci
Mutation rate found in 3,026 Spanish/Potuguese father-son pairs, Y chromosome loci

In testing for 37 markers, a perfect match of the markers indicates the two subjects likely had a common male ancestor no more than 21 generations ago at most.  If only 36 markers match, this indicates a common ancestor would likely have existed no more than 35 generations ago.  If only 35 markers match, this indicates a common ancestor would likely have existed no more than 58 generations ago.   On average the common ancestor is often more recent than these maximum number of generations.

The maximum distance to the most common ancestor is very useful information in identfying whether the various Banks families in the U.S. are related to each other.

Mutation rates were calculated by (a) comparing the DNA changes in a large number of fathers and sons and (b) determining the mutation rate within a large sample of sperm cells of several men.  (see links above)  These can be expensive tests to conduct, and the testing has never been done using just the specific markers used in the genealogy testing.  It is known that some families have faster mutations than others so there is some imprecision in the whole process.  As best as can be determined, the standard mutation rates used in the charts are the slowest.  So information from the faster mutating families do not interfere with the conservative calculation of the farthest possible number of generations to the most recent common ancestor—which is of most interest.

In addition to determining whether one Banks family is related to another, the test will also likely establish the haplogroup of a specific Banks family.
Haplogroups are designations for very large groups of persons who are descended from a common ancestor who had a specific DNA mutation a long time ago, usually before the time of Christ.  A specific haplogroup is defined by the presence of this specific mutation in a DNA section.   The number of subgroups of haplogroups is now approaching 1000 in number.. 

Map of haplogroups in the world

In establishing the geographical origin of the common ancestor, scientists determine where today in the world a DNA pattern or mutation is most common.  This evidence is more useful if samples are taken in rural areas where there is some ethnic homogeneity.

Separate Mutation Sites for Haplogroups
Reference will be made on this page also to another mutation test other than the test for the mutation sites of the 37 markers.  This separate test (called the SNP) identifies extremely rare mutations that define the various haplogroups, but this separate test is usually not needed because the markers often predict what that separate SNP mutation will be.   The Y Chromosome Consortium has made use of the known SNP mutations to create a list of haplogroups and assign them names.  Link here to a general tree diagram of the haplogroups.  This page provides links to more detailed sub-trees.  Those in the same haplogroup will typically have about 9-11 matching values on a 11 marker test and will also match most of the 37 markers.   

Physical Appearance
Nothing in these tests will predict the physical appearance of an ancestor a thousand or more years ago.  The Y chromosome does not control such things, and the physical features result from a mixture of genes inherited randomly from mother and father.  Over 5 to 6 generations, the physical features can change dramatically if a series of males marry exclusively women from a new group or a certain appearance.  Because the SNP mutation that defines haplogroups happens silently within a given region, it is likely that several haplogroups will exist together there for a long time.  Those living in continental Europe, Asia and Africa experienced multiple large invasions and cross migrations intermixing haplogroups to some extent and also spreading around physical characteristics within each continent.