Genetic Ancestry: Viewing Your Results

Posted February 17, 2011 by Geni | 2 Comments

So, now that you’ve ordered your kit, taken your test, and received your results, how do you put them to good use in your genealogy research? Well, it depends on which company you decided to do your testing through. I have personal experience with 23andMe, so that is the example I’ll use today.

Before you do anything else, go to the mechanism that matches people with similar DNA. 23andMe calls this feature “Relative Finder.” This is your best bet for finding others that can expand your family tree. Interestingly, the service will estimate how closely related you are to these other people. From there, you can message your matches, and compare surnames. If those match, you can compare that branch of your tree to see how you’re related.

Next, you should head over to the Ancestry Painting section. This gives you an idea of where your somewhat recent ancestors were from. European representation is fairly straight forward, but Asian and African ancestries are a bit more complex. East Asian, Pacific Islanders, and American Indians will likely all show up as mostly Asian. African Americans will probably find that they have a substantial mix of the three. The same goes for certain parts of the middle east.

That said, just because something doesn’t show up in your results doesn’t mean your ancestors weren’t from different places. For example, I’m fairly positive I have some American Indian ancestry through one of my branches, but that was so far back in my lineage that I no longer have any Asian-specific markers. For all intents and purposes, my genetic profile is that of someone with only European recent ancestors. This is a great way of potentially confirming suspicions, but it won’t be able to rule anything out.

Next, check out your maternal and paternal haplogroups. Men can find out both very easily, but women will need to have their male relatives with the same direct paternal lineage also genotyped to find out their paternal haplogroup. Blame that darn Y chromosome.

Once you find your haplogroup, you can find out where your ancestors were located, how long ago your haplogroup was formed, and how your haplogroup branched off earlier groups. For example, I’m a maternal H17, but H is a subgroup of HV, and HV is a subgroup of R0. That goes on and on until you get to Mitochondrial Eve (Also called the Mother of all Mothers or MoM).

If you’re interested in finding out more about what makes your haplogroup unique, you can check out their beta feature called Haplogroup Tree Mutation Mapper. That is a bit intense, but you’ll be able to dig deeper from there.

Want to know more about using DNA for your genealogy research? Keep an eye on the Geni blog. We have quite a bit more to say about the subject.