Who are we, where do we come from, where are we going? These will always be the three main questions of humanity. Thanks to ancestry tests we can now answer one of them and find out where we come from. But to what extent can we know our origins? How accurate are ancestry DNA tests? Before answering these questions let’s know some basic concepts about genetic ancestry.
What is genetic ancestry?
Ancestry is the genetic information that we inherit from all our ancestors and which contains certain genetic variations. These inherited genes are a combination of different populations that have inhabited the Earth since the origin of humanity, approximately three thousand centuries ago.
These genetic variations are a series of mutations or permanent changes in each person’s DNA and are responsible for determining the differences between all the people. Over the years, millennia and centuries, a genetic variability characteristic of each population has been created.
It is thanks to these variations in genes that, today, we are able to sequence DNA and compare it with all that amount of genetic data worldwide, generated throughout history, in order to analyze the individual ancestry of each person. These genetic data is called a genetic marker and, depending on how it has been transmitted from parents to children, there are two types:
- Autosomal: They are inherited from the father and the mother and allow us to know the genetic inheritance that both parents have transmitted to us.
- Uniparental: They are only inherited from the mother or the father. These are mitochondrial (mother) and chromosomal (father) DNA markers. This allows us to study both lineages separately.
How is the analysis of your DNA for the ancestry performed?
Thanks to the genetic variability we were talking about, we can carry out a comparison of your markers with those in our databases. We reach more than 1500 regions all over the world and we go as far back in time as our data allows us to.
To perform the analysis of your DNA we only need a saliva sample. To perform the analysis of your DNA we only need a saliva sample. You will be able to do it through a very simple process that we explain here. Our technicians sequence it in the laboratory and read all the information it provides. To perform this process, we use more than 700.000 genetic markers specially selected to study your genetic information.
There are different ways to study genetic ancestry and they are all based on probabilities. At Ancenstrum we use Illumina technology, currently the newest and most accurate on the market, and we rely on our own algorithms. These are based on methods that seek the highest possible accuracy, always endorsed by the international scientific community.
After passing rigorous quality control and analyzing your saliva sample, we compare your DNA with a large number of reference samples. Thanks to the differences and similarities we find in your genes and our Deep Ancestry Technology, we will know your ancestry.
How accurate are ancestry DNA tests?
Depending on the technology used and the resources available, an ancestry DNA test can be very accurate. In the case of Ancestrum, we are able to get down to the level of detail of regions and even provinces. This is much more than the majority of companies in the market, which can only talk about large geographic areas.
It is true that the results of the ancestry tests are statistical approximations and will depend on a number of factors. On the one hand, we don’t have the same number of population sets identified in all areas of the world. This means that there will be places where we won’t be able to detail with too much accuracy. However, as we mentioned before, the Ancestrum database includes a large number of samples and population groups that allow us to offer you extremely reliable results.
On the other hand, the ancestry analysis we perform depends on the size of the genetic mixture of your predecessors. If there is a large amount of mixture, your results may not match exactly what you expected. The story you were told or knew about your closest relatives may not correspond to the test results.
Also, keep in mind that our algorithms exclude the last 300 years as irrelevant, so our analysis doesn’t include where your predecessors have lived in the last eight generations. But, in most cases, we are able to know information about your ancestors from as far back as 30 generations, which is about 900 years. We can even see genetic traces going back more than 2 millenniums.
Finally, ancestry analysis is also influenced by certain genetic factors. The genetic ancestry we inherit from our parents is not exactly 50% from the father and 50% from the mother. This is why, if we are talking about autosomal marker analysis, the ancestry test results of two brothers may be different.
In the case of uniparental marker analysis, the test result is not as precise in terms of the location of your ancestors but provides more general information about your lineage. We trace back to the point where that lineage originated, both geographically and historically.
With all this information in your hands, you know how accurate the Ancestrum ancestry DNA test is. In addition, our ancestry DNA test is the only one that lets you know up to seven traits of your ancestors: geographic, ethnic, historical, maternal, paternal, Neanderthal, and even which celebrities you are related to.