12 April 2017

Who I am: DNA testing and ethnicity (FamilyTreeDNA update)

This is one in a series of posts on the search for my biological family.

In a previous post, I reviewed how DNA testing revealed my ethnic background. Since then, FamilyTreeDNA has updated its MyOrigins analysis. It's not clear exactly what they did, but I assume it had something to do with updating its reference population. My numbers changed, a little bit. Here are the new (left) and old (right):




The website notes that "[a] trace percentage indicates a very small amount of shared DNA in common with the coresponding population. In some cases this minor percentage could be attributed to background noise." So it's not clear if if actually have any ancestry from the trace regions, but it is possible. Now, here are FamilyTreeDNA and Ancestry side by side:


What is going on here? To be clear, this is the same DNA test, done at Ancestry and the results uploaded to FamilyTreeDNA. Again, these differences are almost certainly do to different reference populations. Still, it's a bit frustrating, don't you think? Aside from Iberia, which appears on both tests, the trace regions don't necessarily match up. Scandinavia went from 5-8% to disappearing. Still, these are very small numbers. That 32% from Western Europe on the Ancestry test just completely disappears at FamilyTreeDNA. Another mystery to figure out...
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