Open Source Tools for Genealogical Mapping

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Your DNA carries way more information than you know. It can tell you about your ethnic heritage i.e. where you are coming from, genetic health issues so that you can take appropriate measures in advance to protect your health, risks regarding fertility and other serious diseases like cancer. Here we cover some open source tools that helps you do genealogical mapping.

Today’s technology has become so advanced that you can learn all you need to learn from your DNA from the comfort of your home. You can simply place an order for at home DNA test kit and get the results delivered to you. You just need to answer a few simple questions and send a DNA sample (usually saliva) to the company. They can study the sample and provide a detailed report as per your requirements.

Open Source DNA Databases
Open source platforms have always played a key role in the advancement of new technologies. For instance, programs like WordPress, Firefox, GIMP, etc. have built communities in which talented programmers continue to support these products and write new codes to take the existing services to the next level. Even recently, VIPOOL released an open source software to develop systems that use blockchain. So, it’s not a surprise that there are open source platforms for DNA testing too.
It’s true that commercial DNA test providers offer the simplest solutions for studying your ancestry and health risks. However, there are many open source DNA databases on the web as well which allow you to analyse your autosomal DNA (atDNA) to learn more about your family tree, for free! You can upload your raw DNA results on these platforms and get access to more information on the fly.
Even though different open source DNA database websites offer different services in different ways, the general process is the same. You start by creating an account, find the appropriate tool and upload the raw data results from a test. The program can match these results from its database which can have as many as 200,000 samples from different users. You may also find additional tools that are worth checking out including checking if your parents are related, analyzing two samples to identify genetic cousins, etc. There are also advanced tools like autosomal DNA segment analyzer, X one-to-come comparer in which your X-DNA data is compared to another X-DNA data. These features can be quite useful to genealogists although not so much to an average user.

The following are some of the best open source tools that you can use today for genealogical mapping:

GenomeTools
GenomeTools is a free collection of bioinfomatrics tools based on a C library called “libgenometools” which can be used to create, process or convert annotation graphs and facilitate various genome processes. You can run the program on any UNIX system although there is a Windows version too which can be used after the installation of Cygwin.
GenomeTools can be used for different kinds of DNA-analysis processes including genes prediction, drawing genome annotations, biosequence representations, etc.

Bedtools
Bedtools is another good collection of tools that can be used for genomics analysis tasks. With it, you can count, intersect, shuffle, complement, and merge genomic intervals, make a master table of ChromHMM tracks for multiple cell types, extract promoter sequences from a genome, etc. You can also conduct rather sophisticated analyses by combing different bedtool operations on the UNIX command line.

geWorkbench
Short for genomics Workbench, geWorkbench is a Java-based open-source tool that can help with all kinds of integrated genomics tasks. What makes it truly powerful is that the fact that it supports independent developer plug-ins which can be used as specialized bioinfomatic apps. At present, it supports 70 of these plug-ins for analysis of sequence data and gene expression.

Serial Cloner
If you want a DNA analysis program for a Windows or Mac system, then Serial Cloner can be a good choice, although it is available for Unix systems too.
Serial Cloner is a free bioinfomatic tool that can be used to analyse and manipulate sequences in a neat and intuitive interface. You can prepare electronic versions of your constructs, set-up new sub-cloning projects on the fly, and enjoy some of its main functions which include sequence alignment, multi-format support including Vector NTI, MacVector, GenBank, etc., virtual cutter, sequence map, etc.

Bottom Line
Today, awareness of DNA testing is increasing at an impressive pace. People are realizing that are many interesting things to know about DNA testing such as learning about distant history such as Neanderthal heritage, relatives that you didn’t know you had, and more. This is why there is a huge demand for reliable and affordable DNA testing services. It’s recommended that you use these services first and then check the open source databases and platforms to access specialized tools. That said, you will get most of the key details with the commercial kits alone so you may not need to use open source platforms at all.

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Prashant Sharma has been serving as Editor-in-Chief of TechPluto.com, a Google News approved Tech news site since 2008. His interest in solving problems in various aspects of Digital Marketing prompted him to start Accunite, a fast-growing company, building solutions and services for Digital Marketing Industry. PRchitects and ProMarketingNinjas are some of the credible service brands launched by Accunite. Apart from his Digital Marketing experience spanning 10+ years, his content contributions have been featured on notable media companies such as Investingnews.com. In his free time, he loves engaging in adventure sports and all things fitness.

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