Many of us have taken at least one if not more of the ancestry tests from DNA testing companies like AncestryDNA, 23andme, MyHeritage, Living DNA or FTDNA. There is a burning desire to find out what different companies report about our ancestors and if the ethnicity estimates that you received are accurate enough.
Ethinicity Estimate: What’s The Big Deal?
DNA matching is a complex process. I can say from my personal experience (data to support in the images below) that many of us who took an ancestry test from one DNA testing company wonder what the other company would report. If you considered Facebook’s audience was a proxy representation of ancestry company databases, it can be said that there appears to be at least 20% overlap. That is, at least 20% of the people who have taken a 23andMe test have also taken an Ancestry DNA test.
The urge to learn what other companies report is totally valid and is something that requires:
- more in-depth analysis on the databases and markers used by each of the companies
- how they label certain populations (depending on reference panels and region names used)
- the coverage (size) of the database that they have for each ethnic group
In addition to purchasing ancestry tests from multiple DNA testing companies, you can also use some free tools to calculate your ethnicity estimates. I list below three alternatives that you could use to determine your ancestry. However, remember these databases are highly heterogenous and we don’t have a clear idea on clean up performed before they are fed in to the algorithm. Remember in computer parlance, “garbage in garbage out”. This means that the accuracy of ethnicity estimation is as good as the data each of these companies use. Over to the free tools now!
Gedmatch is a popular online DNA matching service. This tool does not require extensive explanation as thousands of genealogy enthusiasts have used it. It has been around for over a decade. In case you want to learn more about Gedmatch, then here is a detailed article on the history including explainer videos on how to use Gedmatch. Gedmatch is particularly useful for people who have originated from Europe (places like France, Great Britain, Scotland, Italy, Switzerland, Denmark etc.) due to the large number of DNA samples in their database.
DNA Land is another free website that is used by several genealogy enthusiasts to determine ancestry proportions from autosomal DNA. DNA Land started off as a website to learn about ethnicity estimates but has grown to include more features such as health, traits and imputation. It accepts DNA data from FTDNA, AncestryDNA, 23andme and Genes for good. The website was launched in 2015 (relatively new compared to Gedmatch). As per their website, “DNA.Land will become an independent private entity by the same researchers who started the project. While the entity will legally be a for-profit company, we plan to keep all services free.”
DNA Painter is the most interesting free tool of them all. While it does not calculate your ancestry proportions, it creates a nice visual of your family trees. So if you want to convert your long family histories into a piece of art, give this tool a try. You will not be disappointed.
Lineage - A free tool for DIY enthusiasts to determine ethnicity estimates
This may have been an unexpected entry in the list. For those who love to DIY, lineage is a github repo specifically for ancestry analysis.
- The lineage tool can calculate the genetic distance between individuals in centiMorgans (cMs)
- It can be used to plot shared DNA segments between individuals
- You can also find discordant SNPs (single nucleotide polymorphism) between child and parent(s) using Lineage.
Happy ancestry analysis!
Ancestry match is not affiliated with any of the companies or brand names mentioned in the above article or anywhere on this website.