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DNA Testing Update

Upon arriving to Venice, Italy, it was learned that exactly 81 DNA samples were collected from the original 300. Through the first two weeks, a lot has been going on regarding the DNA aspect of our project. Week one was spent coordinating testing dates with several large organizations, ArcheoClub, a Venice archaeology group, 40xVenezia, a Venice political group, and Venessia.com, another Venice political group.

There are several requirements for DNA testing. First, you must be male. Because the National Genographic Genographic Project tests Y-DNA, only male DNA can be collected, since females do not have Y-chromosomes. Second, you must be 18 years of age or older. Last, you must have grandparents who were from the Veneto region (Northeast) of Italy.

Week one also lead us to visit the Venice boat warehouse during one of the Regatta’s. Professor Carerra aided us with translation with some of the participants. We collected four samples while at the Regatta. We were treated to lunch.

Following our visit to the warehouse, we collected several additional samples through connections of Professor Carrera. During Week two, we met with Matteo Secco, a member of Vessenia.com. He and his organization have planned “The Funeral For Venice,” which is an event scheduled for November 14. The Funeral’s purpose is to bring awareness to the shrinking population of Venice, which, for the first time, has dipped below 60,000. Through conversation with Matteo, it was arranged that our group will be attendance for the funeral to collect DNA samples from Venetians. He invited us to the Funeral For Venice press-conference on November 7. At the press-conference, we alerted the media of our DNA project. We collected several samples, to bring our grand total to 89.

Our group hopes to collect dozens of samples at the Funeral for Venice this weekend. Large scale events such as these are the most feasible way of collecting DNA samples. We must obtain 100 samples before testing can begin in the Barcelona Genographic Labs, however, we aim to exhaust all 300 DNA kits, as outlined in our Methodology in our Final Project Proposal.

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Mitochondria DNA (mtDNA)

A founder effect occurs when a new colony is established by few members of an original population. The small original population reduces the genetic variation from the original population, resulting in a non-random sample of genes. The founder effect has been seen in several human populations. The Afrikaner population in South Africa, derived from Dutch decendants, experienced a founder effect when it’s population developed a high prevelance for Pseudoxanthoma elasticum, or PXE.

Similarly, the Amish population in the United States often features founder effects due to the lack of recruiting outside members, as many Amish people only marry within the community. Also, Icelanders have been an example of the founder effect. PloS Genetics claimed that genetic drift is the cause of the lack of mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) halotype derivation within the Iceland population.

So, does Venice, Italy, experience this founder effect? While the effect has been found prevelent in the Sicilian population in the form of Glycogen storage disease type II, there is no evidence that suggests that the founder’s effect is prevelant within the Venetian community. Perhaps Venice dodged the founder effect bullet because of the prevelance of crazed tourists. The shrinking population, or emigration from Venice, from the past half century may have also aided in Venice’s ability to dodge the founder effect.

Geographic Map Of Sicily

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