Scientists set up a hundred-year-old family drama using DNA from postcards

Scientists set up a hundred year old family drama using DNA from

In 1885, Xaver, a young blacksmith from Austria, who left home to make it big. After finding a new job abroad, Xaver, a gentleman, fell in love with Dina, the 17-year-old Catholic-Jewish daughter of his leader. He was shot afterwards. But that was just the beginning of this family drama.

Dina ran away from home to be with Xaver and found accommodation and work in the home of Ron, the owner of a 30-year Jewish factory. In 1887, she gave birth to a son, named Renc, whom Ron believed was dead. Renc received Jewish rites and was baptized in a Catholic church.

But Dina and Xaver stayed together, and after Xaver achieved some success in his career, the couple married in 1889. Xaver recognized the one-and-a-half-year-old son-in-law Renc, and Ron supported him. family loan. Xaver and Dina were preceded in death by three children, including a son named Arles. During World War II, Renc's full Jewish ancestry was kept secret, while he and his relatives lived in fear of being deported to concentration camps.

His father 's secret was kept public for years, but among the family the true identity of Renc's father was passed down from generation to generation.

Shortly to May 2017, when Cordula Haas, a forensic geneticist at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, was asked with an unusual request. Descendants of Renc and Arles wanted to prove that Ron was indeed Renc's true father. The family offered breast swabs from living descendants of Dina, Renc, and Arles for DNA analysis, and - at the instigation of Haas - some postcards sent by Renc and Ron that could keep their DNA in remnants of the saliva used. to wrap the stamps.

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Solving relationship issues is a common task in forensic genetics, but this issue was a bit more complicated than Haas was used to. For a year and a half, she and her team tried to prove the story pointless. By October 2018, they had thrown in the towel. But then, in March 2020, the family returned, this time with more heirs. They found some more old postcards sent by Arles on a business trip in 1922.

The scientists compared the DNA found under the stamps of these cards with the DNA found on postcards sent by Renc while fighting in the First World War and on postwar missions. They found a common chromosomal Y line, meaning that the two brothers shared the same father. After more than a century, the family ended their father's drama: Xaver, not Ron, was Renc's father.

With the family's permission, Haas and her colleagues detailed their research in a paper published this month in the journal International Forensic Science. . - we were once considering the next big thing in genetic genealogy. It promises to offer anyone the opportunity to gain valuable insights into their ancestors and loved ones who have long since passed away, to look further back at their family tree, and to reunification with existing relatives.

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