Friday 20 December 2013

A first look at the Chromo 2 All My Ancestry test from BritainsDNA

Larry Vick has very kindly shared some screenshots with me from his BritainsDNA* Chromo 2 test. Larry previously tested with the company in the days when it was known as Ethnoancestry. As an existing customer he was given the opportunity to order the Chromo 2 test at a very favourable price. Larry ordered the combination package which includes a Y-DNA (fatherline) test, an mtDNA (motherline) test and the All My Ancestry (biogeographical analysis) test. I will cover the All My Ancestry test in this post and will discuss the other tests in a follow-up post. Click on the images to enlarge them.

The All My Ancestry test analyses around 250,000 autosomal SNPs. The screenshot below shows the All My Ancestry welcome screen.  There are three different viewing options: Global Connections, Population Percentage, and Chromosome Painting.

The Global Connections menu compares your results with reference samples from around four thousand people from around the world. The results are plotted on a colour-coded chart and you can see which population is your closest match. There is a drop-down list which gives you the option to choose a variety of alternative views: Worldwide 1; Worldwide 2; African; Sub-Saharan; West Asian; South and Central Asian; East and Northern Asian; Hispanic and Afro-Caribbean 1; Hispanic and Afro-Caribbean 2; Native American mixture; and Jewish mixture. The image below shows the Worldwide 1 view.

This image shows the European view from the Global Connections menu:

The next menu allows you to look at your Population Percentages. This plot "uses a population genetic model to estimate your overall ancestry and puts this in context using nearly 4000 people from across the world". There is again a drop-down list which allows you to see your results compared to a number of different populations. The following options are available: global; Africa; Europe; West Asia; South and Central Asia; East and North Asia; and Hispanic-Afro-Caribbean-Native American. The following screenshot shows the global comparison:

This screenshot shows the European comparison:

The final viewing option is the Chromosome Painting. This allows you to see the contribution made to each of your chromosomes from three broad population groups: West Eurasian, Sub Saharan African and Asian-Native American. The company say "An ancestor six or more generations ago will have only contributed a small segment of DNA to your genome but this method can see these small segments which are not obvious in methods which provide a summary of the whole genome." As can be seen from the painting below this method has detected what are possibly small segments of African and Native American DNA.

Larry describes his documented ancestry as follows.
I think my ancestry would be best described as colonial American with a lot of UK, significant Irish, some German, and a little African and Native American mixture. I am not sure of the amount of African and Native American. My mother's 2nd great grandmother was from an area of tri-racial people, and I have no idea as to who her African or Native American ancestors were (in fact I don't even know my mother's 2nd great grandmother's parents' names). My mother's ancestry paintings have merely supported a family story about her 2nd great grandmother being from Newman's Ridge in Hancock County, Tennessee.  This 2nd great grandmother's maiden name was COLLINS, and that is a very prominent Melungeon surname (the reputed founder of this area was Vardy COLLINS).
I have to say I've personally never been able to work up much enthusiasm for these admixture tests. I already know that all my documented ancestors are from the British Isles and none of the tests are as yet able to tell me anything more than I already know from my genealogical research. However, Larry's genetic ancestry is much more interesting than mine which makes the results a little more appealing. I particularly liked the very colourful population percentage plots, a feature which is not available from any of the other testing companies. It would have been helpful to have information on the reference populations used for the analysis, something which all the other companies now provide. Another feature which is lacking is the ability to download the raw autosomal data. Compared to the alternative offerings on the market the All My Ancestry test is rather expensive at £169 ($269). It is a little cheaper when bought as part of a package in combination with the Chromo 2 Y-DNA and mtDNA tests. For a comparison of the autosomal DNA offerings from the other testing companies see Tim Janzen's autosomal DNA testing comparison chart in the ISOGG Wiki. The BritainsDNA All My Ancestry test is not yet included on this chart but Tim will no doubt wish to update it in due course when he's had the chance to assess his own results.

* Note that BritainsDNA also trades under the names ScotlandsDNA, IrelandsDNA, YorkshiresDNA and CymruDNAWales.

Related blog posts
- A first look at the BritainsDNA Chromo 2 Y-DNA and mtDNA tests
Alistair Moffat, BritainsDNA and the BBC - a "uniquely British farce"
More pseudoscience from Alistair Moffat on the BBC
BritainsDNA, the BBC and Eddie Izzard
The British: a genetic muddle by Alistair Moffat
BritainsDNA, The Times and Prince William: the perils of publication by press release
- The saga continues - CymruDNAWales, S4C, the Tudor surname and "Who are the Welsh?"
- More on the S4C DNACymru controversy and my review of "Who are the Welsh?"

© 2013 Debbie Kennett

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