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With markers 464e and 464f, which person 2 carries and person 1 does not, the difference is 17 and the generational difference is 1, for each marker, but since the copy event likely happened at one time, it’s considered a mutational difference or genetic distance of only 1, not 34 or 2.Therefore, in our example, the total genetic distance for these men is now 5, not 8 or 38.Many people mistakenly assume that genetic distance is the number of generations to a common ancestor, but that is what genetic distance means.Genetic distance is how many mutations difference the participant (you) has with that particular match.However, if marker 390 mutated from 24 to 26, the difference is 2, because those mutations most likely occurred in two different steps – in other words marker 390 had a mutation two different times, perhaps once in each man’s line. Some markers don’t play nice and tend to mutate more than one step at a time, sometimes creating additional marker locations as well. These are known as multi-copy (or palindromic) markers and have more than one value listed for each marker.Therefore, the total genetic distance for these two men, combining both markers and with all of their other markers matching, would be 3. In fact, marker 464 typically has 4 different values shown, but can have several more.
In essence, the Total Genetic Distance is a mathematical calculation of how many times mutations happened between the lines of these two men since their common ancestor, whether that common ancestor is known or not.In our last example, a deletion has occurred, which sometimes happens at marker location 425.When a deletion occurs, all of the DNA at that location is permanently deleted, or omitted, between father and son, and the value is 0.I said generally, because I have seen a situation where a mutation occurred between mother and child, meaning that individual had a genetic distance of 1 when compared to their mother, along with anyone who matched their mother exactly.Clearly, they are far more closely related to their mother than to their mother’s matches.