Updates in the Haplogroup U4 Project

Dear U4 project members

It’s time to bring you up to date with a few developments and changes in the U4 project.

Some of you will be aware that I joined the U4 project as co-administrator back in August 2009.  At around the same time Ron Scott was appointed as a fellow co-administrator, and William Allen assumed responsibility as the group administrator.  Since then the bulk of the project administration work has been done by Ron and me. Ron was in charge of the phylogenetic analysis and I assumed responsibility for welcoming new members. However, since November 2011 Ron has not responded to any e-mails and we have also been unable to contact him via Facebook. William Allen has a lot of work and family commitments and did not have any spare time to work on the U4 project so he stepped down as administrator earlier this year. Therefore for the last two years I have effectively been running the U4 project single-handed.

Back in 2009 we had just 160 project members. The project has grown considerably since then and we now have 635 members. I am also very pleased that the project has attracted an increasing international membership, particularly in Scandinavia, Finland, Eastern Europe and the British Isles. Although the majority of our project members live in the US we now also have project members living in the following countries: Australia, Austria, the Bahamas, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, England, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Scotland, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the Virgin Islands, and the West Indies.

With the steady increase in the growth of the project it is becoming increasingly difficult for me to keep up with the workload. I had never intended to assume sole responsibility for the U4 project as I already run two other projects – the 
Cruwys/Cruse/Cruise surname DNA project and a geographical project for the English county of Devon. I am now writing to ask if any project members would be willing to offer their services to help with the running of the U4 project. I knew nothing about mtDNA when I first started out and have learnt from experience as I’ve gone along, and it would be very easy for someone else to do the same. I would be happy to share the knowledge that I've acquired. Ideally it would be best to have a number of admins. Nearly all the large haplogroup projects now have multiple admins. For anyone with mathematical skills there would also be scope for doing analysis on the ages of the various subclades and their coalescence times. If you are interested in helping out in any way please contact me by e-mail for an informal chat.

Project results page
The U4 project results page has gone through a number of changes in the last few years. Ron Scott identified a number of clusters but the naming system he used is now very out of date. I have followed the naming system used by Phylotree which now publishes the official mtDNA tree:


Phylotree is currently on Build 15, and Build 16 is imminent. FTDNA are currently still using Build 14. All U4 project results now conform with Build 15. Some of you might find that your original subclade assignment has been changed since I wrote to you about your results. If you notice any errors in your assignment do let me know. I have retained some of the clusters identified by Ron Scott but I have abandoned his naming system because it was in conflict with the updated Phylotree nomenclature. It may be that some of these new subclades will be recognised by Phylotree when it is next updated. The Genographic Project are supposed to be bringing out a big paper which will update the mtDNA tree, and I understand that FTDNA will not update their mtDNA haplogroup assignments until this paper has been published though the timeframe is not known.

FTDNA sale
You will probably have noticed that FTDNA now have a sale on which lasts until the end of the year. For those of you who have transferred Geno 2.0 results or 23andMe results to FTDNA this is a good opportunity for you to order a full sequence test in order to participate in the FTDNA genealogical matching database. The basic mtDNAPlus test was reduced in price in the summer and now costs just $49 so if you can’t afford the full sequence then this would be a good starting point instead.

The upgrade to the full sequence test is also on special offer in the sale at US $139.  Within the U4 Project 249 of our project members have now taken the full sequence test. Some of the sequences of our U4 project members were used in the 2012 paper by Dr Doron Behar et al "A Copernican 'reassessment' of the human mitochondrial DNA tree from its root":


The sale also provides a good opportunity to encourage your friends and family to take a DNA test, and perhaps some of them will be U4s like you! I've put full details of the sale prices of all the different tests on my blog:


Most distant known ancestor
While the majority of you have helpfully provided the details of your most distant known ancestor on your mtDNA line, we do still have a few project members who have not supplied this information. The ancestral details are displayed on the results page:


These details are also used for the project's maps (you need to make the appropriate selection from the drop-down menu): 


The ancestral details also appear against your name in the match lists, and will help you to make genealogical connections. It is very easy to update these details from your personal page. You will find the settings under My account/GEDCOM/FamilyTree.  As a lot of people get confused about the transmission of mtDNA you might like to refer to this chart on the ISOGG website showing the path of mtDNA in order to check that you've entered the details of the correct ancestor:


Full sequence results
Everyone who has taken the full sequence test should have received from me an explanatory e-mail with details of how you can contribute your results to GenBank for scientific research. I also provide details of the custom reports which are available from Dr Ann Turner. Note that there is now a page on the ISOGG Wiki which provides details of Dr Turner’s reports:


If for any reason you have not received an e-mail from me do get in touch.

If you have any questions about the project I would be pleased to hear from you.

Kind regards

Debbie Kennett
Group Administrator
mtDNA Haplogroup U4 Project

This letter was also sent to all U4 project members using the FTDNA bulk e-mail system. There were 27 bouncing e-mail addresses. If you are a member of the project and have not updated your contact details please ensure that you do so in order to receive future communications from Family Tree DNA and from your matches.

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