Develop Your DNA Testing Plan for Genealogy

Developing a DNA testing plan can help ensure that your genetic genealogy testing has targeted goals and maximized results. Follow these tips from Legacy Tree Genealogists to create your own DNA testing plan. Already taken a test? It’s not too late to develop a real plan to get the most out of your results.

Your DNA testing plan

You have taken your DNA test, and you have your ethnicity estimate, but how does genetic genealogy testing actually help you with your genealogy? Where do you even begin? By developing a DNA testing plan you can ensure that you pursue your research with a focused goal in mind, which will help determine how best to proceed.

Thank you to Legacy Tree Genealogists for providing us with this guest blog post.

Moving beyond ethnicity estimates

Even though ethnicity estimates get a great deal of attention, the most genealogically valuable element of your DNA test results is the match list which connects you to others based on your shared DNA inheritance. As you begin working with your DNA test results within the context of your genealogy, we recommend sharing and collaborating with your genetic cousins. The main goal of your correspondence with genetic cousins might be to determine the nature of your relationship, but could also include sharing information regarding your shared heritage and ancestors, or requesting their help in recruiting additional relatives to test.

However, your match list may sometimes present problems of its own. If it includes several thousand individuals it might seem overwhelming. If you only have a handful of matches, it might be discouraging. In either case, there is no need to worry. Genetic genealogy tests are constantly changing as more people test. If you have too many matches, just focus on the closest ones. If you don’t have enough, the genetic cousins you need to make genealogical breakthroughs may not have tested yet. Waiting for the right cousins to test need not be a passive pursuit. Consider target testing your known relatives (or the known relatives of your matches) to better achieve your research goals.

Creating a DNA testing plan

In order to create a robust testing plan, you first need to have a specific research subject and a clear objective. Focus on a single ancestor. Make a goal of what you hope to discover through DNA testing. DNA testing is ideal for addressing questions regarding kinship, but is not as good for exploring motivations, biographical detail or uncovering ancestral stories. Once you have a research subject and objective, then you can evaluate which relatives will be the best candidates to test to thoroughly address your research problem.

In this post we will create an example DNA testing plan for John Martin who was adopted by a shopkeeper and his wife in the mid-1800s. We have few clues as to who his biological parents may have been. Our research subject is John Martin, and our stated objective is to determine the identities of his biological parents.

Understanding shared DNA

Because of the unique inheritance pattern of autosomal DNA, testing multiple relatives of a specific research subject can be extremely beneficial. Each individual inherits half of their autosomal DNA from each of their parents. Beyond that, the amount of DNA shared in common is only approximate due to a random process – called recombination – which shuffles the DNA each generation. Each individual will inherit about 25% from each grandparent, 12.5% from each great-grandparent and approximately half the previous amount for each subsequent generation. Although two first cousins will have both inherited 25% of their DNA from each of their common grandparents (50% in total) they will have inherited a different 25%. Therefore, first cousins will typically only share about 12.5% of their DNA in common. Because descendants along distinct lines inherit different portions of their common ancestors’ DNA, it is important to test as many people from distinct family lines as possible.

Tip: Right click and ‘Save Image’ to your computer, then print this free, quick reference chart:

Don’t overlook the importance of traditional genealogy research!

Since it can be extremely beneficial to test multiple descendants of a research subject, before pursuing a detailed testing plan we recommend documenting as many descendants of an ancestor of interest as possible through traditional research. Though this process can be time consuming, it is often worth the effort. By tracing all descendants, you can accurately evaluate which genetic cousins will be best to invite to perform DNA testing. Additionally, tracing the descendants of ancestors can frequently lead to additional clues for extending ancestry. Just as different descendants inherit different DNA, they also inherit different information and historical documents regarding their ancestors. Some of that information could include clues regarding the very relationships you are trying to clarify. While searching for descendants of your ancestor of interest, consider utilizing compiled family histories, obituaries, city directories, family organizations and public records to identify living descendants.

In tracing the descendants of John Martin, we found that he had three children who lived to adulthood. We traced each of their descendants through traditional research and identified 10 living relatives (shown in gray, below). Now that we know the identities of all his living descendants we can prioritize which relatives to test.

Who you decide to test as part of your research problem can be considered within the context of coverage. Coverage is the amount of an ancestor’s DNA that is represented in a DNA among all of their tested descendants. Coverage can be estimated by determining the amount of DNA that one descendant shares with a common ancestor, plus the DNA that another descendant shares with that same ancestor, minus the DNA that both descendants share in common with that ancestor. When two full siblings perform DNA testing, they obtain a coverage of about 75% of their parents’ DNA. Testing three full siblings results in about 87.5% coverage of their parents’ DNA.

Prioritize testing to achieve the highest level of coverage

To achieve the highest coverage of a research subject’s DNA, prioritize testing the closest generational descendants. A living granddaughter of a research subject will have inherited much more DNA from the ancestor of interest than a second great grandson. You can often find the closest generational descendants of a research subject by searching for the youngest child of the youngest child of each generation of their descendants. These individuals will typically have the longest generation times, and therefore have a greater likelihood of having close living descendants.

Keep in mind that any DNA inherited from a common ancestor has to come through an individual’s immediate ancestors. If a granddaughter of a research subject is still living, and she in turn has descendants, any of the DNA that her children or grandchildren inherited from the research subject had to have come through her, and will be a subset of her own DNA. Therefore, if the granddaughter is tested, there is no need to test her descendants as well within the context of the research objective.

For example, in the case of John Martin, his granddaughter Maria is the closest living generational descendant. She will share much more DNA with John Martin than any of his other descendants. Also, any DNA that Maria’s descendants (Jennifer Jones or Matthew Williams) inherited from John Martin would be a subset of the DNA that Maria inherited from John. Therefore, if we were able to test Maria, we would not need to test Jennifer or Matthew.

Also, to achieve the highest coverage of DNA, we recommend testing descendants from unique lines. If a research subject had three children who lived to adulthood, rather than testing descendants of a single child consider testing descendants from each of the children. Testing only descendants of a single child limits the maximum coverage we can achieve, while testing descendants from each line enables maximum coverage. In this case, testing Maria, George, and Isaac or Julia would result in slightly higher coverage than testing Maria, Isaac, and Julia.

Other benefits of creating a DNA testing plan

So far, our discussion on testing plans has focused on the descendants of a research subject. However, it can also be beneficial to test other individuals as part of a research plan. Testing known relatives from other family lines can help to filter DNA test results. Any matches shared between a test subject and a known relative can be assigned to that side of the family. If there are proposed candidates who might be among the ancestors of the research subject, their descendants might be tested to prove or disprove hypotheses regarding their relationship. If, after testing, there are still very few genetic cousins, consider collaborating with those cousins to test their older relatives or representative family members from their various ancestral lines.

In this case, it has been proposed that John Martin was the son of a woman named Jessie Brown. Traditional research revealed that Jessie Brown had other living descendants who might be tested. Their test results could be used to confirm or refute the hypothesis of John’s relationship to Jessie. If their results confirm John and Jessie’s relationship, they could also be used to isolate which genetic cousins of the descendants of John Martin are likely related through the ancestry of John’s father. Finally, testing close known relatives from the other ancestral lines of each testing candidate could help to filter which genetic cousins are related through the ancestry of John Martin.

Since most researchers work within a limited research budget, developing a DNA testing plan can help prioritize which DNA test(s) should be performed first, and can help maximize the chances of successful resolution of research problems. Choose a research subject, define a clear objective, research their living descendants, prioritize DNA testing, and maximize your chances for genealogical discovery.

Creating a DNA testing plan can mean the difference between DNA results that solve genealogy mysteries and a few less-meaningful slices of ethnicity pie chart. It takes a bit of extra time, but it’s worth it.

And don’t worry: if you feel a little lost when working with DNA, Legacy Tree Genealogists has expert professionals (like today’s author) who can help you with your DNA testing plan AND help you integrate DNA discoveries and your traditional research finds for more powerful, confident answers to your family history mysteries. It’s easy to request a free consultation, and we have even arranged an exclusive offer just for our readers: $100 off a 20-hour+ research project with code GGP100.

Get a Second Opinion on Your DNA Test

A second opinion on your DNA test can help your genetic genealogy research in several ways. Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard proposes several scenarios that can help you look at your DNA test results in a new way. (Retesting may not even be necessary!)

Second Opinions on a DNA Test

“Get a second opinion.” That’s the advice we hear about our healthcare and the tactic my kids use when one parent says, “No.” But it should also be a strategy employed in our genetic genealogy pursuits.

Second opinions come in multiple varieties. You can move your DNA test results between companies. For example, while you can’t transfer into 23andMe or AncestryDNA, you can transfer your autosomal DNA results out of all companies and into Family Tree DNAMyHeritage, and now Living DNA. (Click here for step-by-step instructions.) This transfer gives you a second opinion on your ethnicity results. We have talked about how those numbers can differ between companies and your “real” values may be somewhere in between.

However, you may also want to get a second opinion for your match page. Because of different analysis methods at the various testing companies, the same match might be reported to share a different amount of DNA. Those differences should be slight, and shouldn’t influence your relationship. Remember that the amount of DNA you share is measured in centimorgans (cMs), and generally speaking, the more cMs you share, the closer your relationship. (Click here to read more about centimorgans.)

That total amount of shared DNA can help us with another kind of second opinion. Because DNA inheritance is a random event, the amount of DNA two cousins receive from their shared 2X great grandparents can be very different. For example, according to data collected form the Shared cM Project (SCP) individuals who are documented third cousins vary widely in the amount of DNA they share. They may share as much as 253 cM but as little as 6 cM!

A Second Opinion Case Study

Let’s look at an example to see how a second opinion might be helpful in solving a genealogical mystery. In the image we see:

  • you
  • your sister
  • your matches Isaac and Allen

Your match Allen believes that his ancestor Mark is actually the eldest child of Jacob and Jillian. If this is the case, Allen would be your third cousin.

However, when you look at the total amount of shared DNA, you and Allen share only 48 cMs, which is below the 74 cM average for third cousins and fits better in the range of fourth cousins. Your sister is sharing slightly more, at 54 cM. So along with Allen, you begin forming a hypothesis that his ancestor Mark is actually a nephew to Jacob and Jillian, making your common ancestor either Jacob or Jillian’s parents.

However, you then get a new match in Isaac, who is a known third cousin, also a descendant of Jacob and Jillian, and you are sharing 86 cM. You then ask Isaac to tell you how many cMs he is sharing with Allen and he reports a whopping 92 cM! If we find the average amount of shared cMs between you, your sister, and Isaac and Allen, we get 65 cMs, which is much closer to the 74 cMs we would expect if you were truly 3rd cousins. In this case we could say that the genetics supports a connection between these individuals at Jacob and Jillian.

While you could still be 4th cousins instead of 3rd, having a second opinion in your sister, and then a third opinion in your known cousin can be very helpful in determining your actual relationship to Allen. Of course, the only way to know for sure if Mark is the child of Jacob and Jillian will be to find the genealogical paper trail. But in the meantime, you can continue to look for more descendants of this couple who have been DNA tested, and get a more complete picture of your genetic relationship.

More Help with Your DNA Results

MyHeritage DNA matching update and a new chromosome browser

Why do DNA testing for family history if you already “know” your tree

Organizing Your DNA Matches Premium video (Exclusively for Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members–membership now includes over 20 DNA videos from Diahan Southard! Click here to learn more)

About the Author: Diahan Southard has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series of DNA guides for genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

DNA Ethnicity Accuracy: How It’s Getting More Specific

When it comes to the accuracy of DNA ethnicity results, there’s some good news: they’re getting more specific. Your initial results that said “Irish” may now point specifically to Ulster. Here, Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard talks about this promising progress.

One of the questions I get asked most often is to predict the future of genetic genealogy. While I don’t have a crystal ball, I am certain that the future of genetic genealogy holds two things: automation and specificity. We will save the automation discussion for another day (it was hinted at in RootsTech announcements by both MyHeritage and Living DNA) and focus here on the exciting topic of specificity.

DNA ethnicity accuracy: Specificity on the rise

Since the launch of the autosomal DNA test, we have seen an incredible increase in the specificity of our origins reports. In 2007, 23andMe was breaking down your heritage into three main categories: Europe, Asia, and Africa. Now, 11 years later, after several revisions, they have released a new update expanding their origins product from 31 categories to 150! That’s an increase in specificity of 4,900%!!!! All companies are moving in this same direction, with AncestryDNA releasing a small update in April of 2018, to try to provide more detail to the story of your ancestral heritage.

This trend toward increasing specificity also appears in reports from academia. For example, in December of 2017, there was a study released by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland working with the Genealogical Society of Ireland. The study details a component that is especially important to genealogists: time. While it might be interesting to know that you had an ancestor who once walked the moors, it would be even more valuable to know when he was there.

In this study, they can see both the current genetic clusters in Ireland (they report 10) but also measure how genetically similar those clusters are to other places. That means we can not only tell you where you are from in Ireland, but also where you were before that. It’s a bit like the sticker you see on the fruit at the grocery store. Right now it is in your store, but the sticker tells you where it was before that.

AncestryDNA origins reports

This same kind of research is reflected in AncestryDNA’s Migrations, which are a feature of their origins report. Migration communities, like Lower Midwest Settlers, identify your ancestral locations hundreds of years ago, as opposed to the Regions, like Europe West, which identify your ancestral locations thousands of years ago.

Sticking with the Irish theme, we see that AncestryDNA places Ireland in a region with Scotland and Wales. This large region is then broken up into four subregions, each with its own subregions, for a total of 24 different Irish categories. (You can view this image by clicking on See all 150+ regions at the bottom of the ethnicity window.)

Much like the study from academia in Ireland, we can track these Irish groups through time using the tools at AncestryDNA. Essentially, if you find yourself in any of the subregions, then you know that your connection to that particular place was likely within a genealogical timeframe (the last 300 years). What if you do not yet find yourself in a subgroup, but as shown in the example here, you see simply no connection to these subregions? It either means your connection to Ireland is farther back than 300ish years, or that the subregion you are from has not yet been defined.

Living DNA ethnicity categories in UK

Currently Living DNA has the most specificity in the UK as they can distinguish between 42 regions in England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland (map shown here). Living DNA has announced similar regional projects in other countries, including Germany.

But even with this specificity, it can still be tricky to make genealogical connections between your maps and your family tree. In the coming months and years, even that will change. As the databases get bigger, it will be the connections between people who are tested that will add to the layer of genealogy specificity that we are missing. In other words, it will be less about whether you have a specific piece of DNA tagging you as from Cork, Ireland, and more about the fact that your DNA connects to you to an entire group of people who have documented ancestors from Cork. This may seem like a small distinction, but it makes all the difference, and is the driving principle behind AncestryDNA’s Migrations tool, and what Living DNA is hinting at as well.

So, what will the future hold? Nobody has all the answers, and that is part of the fun of it. But one thing I am certain of: the future does hold more specific answers to our genetic genealogy questions.

Did you hear?

We have added 21 of Diahan Southard’s DNA tutorial videos to our Premium Membership, which is now Premium eLearning! DNA is a gateway to genealogical discoveries, so it pays to know all you can about using DNA in your family history research plan. We’ve organized Diahan’s comprehensive DNA tutorial series into four categories: General DNA (including beginner), Autosomal DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and YDNA. Watch all of them or start with what you most want to learn now. And remember, as fantastic as this DNA series is, it’s only one of the many Premium video topics you’ll have exclusive access to with your Premium eLearning. Click here to learn more. 

The Author: Diahan Southard

The Author: Diahan Southard

Your DNA Guide

Diahan is Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series of DNA guides for genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast Episode 158

In the new Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast episode 158, get an exclusive Chronicling America tutorial from the manager of this enormous, free historical newspaper website. Also: a loving daughter hears her father answer important questions 35 years after his death;, a fallen soldier’s remains are identified, a DNA question about Native American ancestry, and reading picks from the Genealogy Gems Book Club.

The newest episode of the Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast has a headline-worthy interview for everyone with U.S. roots! Newspaper research guru Lisa Louise Cooke goes deep into the free, fabulous Chronicling America historical newspaper website with Deborah Thomas, Library of Congress manager for the sponsoring National Digital Newspaper Program. Premium eLearning members will get the scoop on how the site came to be and who chooses what content gets digitized. Hear about a lesser-known tool on the site that can help you find copies of your ancestors’ local papers. Best of all, get tips from both Deborah and Lisa on how to search the site for newspaper stories that reveal your family history.

Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast 158: More newsworthy highlights

Here’s what else Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members will find in this exclusive podcast episode:

  • A family finally lays to rest their fallen U.S. soldier in Arlington National Cemetery–and solves the mystery of his fate after decades.
  • A listener writes in to tell us about a precious discovery, 35 years after she lost her father: recordings of his voice, telling the stories she always wanted to hear from him.
  • A fascinating DNA question about identifying Native American ancestry.
  • Great reading suggestions for fans of the Genealogy Gems Book Club–a listener recommendation and two more titles inspired by the episode itself.

Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning opens doors

The new Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning (previously known as Premium Membership) opens doors to new ideas and inspiration for your family history research. Premium Podcast episodes such as this one are published every month–and Premium eLearning has the entire archive. New Premium Videos publish regularly, and now include a full DNA tutorial series (click here to see a list of all the videos). All Premium eLearning materials are packed with genealogy strategies, tips, how-tos and links you can use right away. Click here to learn more about Premium eLearning and how it can help you open doors to your own family stories.

Online Genealogy Education Like You’ve Never Seen Before

Genealogy Gems Premium membership, a leader in online genealogy education, is now Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning! We’ve added more than 20 DNA video tutorials–all for one low annual price. And now make the most of 50+ Premium Videos and 150+ Premium Podcast episodes with the new Premium eLearning Companion Guide book. It’s the ultimate ongoing genealogy education! Big announcements in the genealogy world tend to happen at RootsTech, and this year Genealogy Gems had our own big news: we’ve beefed up our Premium Membership significantly!

GENEALOGY GEMS PREMIUM MEMBERSHIP IS NOW PREMIUM ELEARNING

Your DNA Guide Diahan Southard has joined forces with Genealogy Gems and added 21 DNA tutorial videos to our Premium Membership, which we are now calling Premium eLearning. DNA is a gateway to genealogical discoveries and an integral part of the best family history research plans. So we’re thrilled to offer you hours of her expert guidance and instruction as part of your annual subscription.

Diahan’s comprehensive DNA tutorial series is organized into four categories: start at the beginning or start with the next skill you want to master. You’ll find both full-length classes and quick sessions on the most popular and genealogically useful DNA research strategies, tests and tools:

DNA (General):

  • Getting Started with DNA Testing
  • Organizing your DNA Matches
  • DNA: The Glue that Holds Families Together

Autosomal DNA:

  • An Outsider’s Look Inside AncestryDNA
  • 3 Tips to Make the Most of your Autosomal DNA
  • 5 Tips for Understanding DNA Results
  • Gedmatch: Using the One-to-Many Tool
  • Ethnicity Tools at AncestryDNA
  • Share your Results at AncestryDNA
  • 23andMe Match Page
  • Ancestry Composition at 23andMe
  • Shared Matches Tool at Gedmatch
  • Family Tree DNA: FamilyFinder Match Page Introduction
  • Shaky Leaf Hints at AncestryDNA
  • New Ancestor Discoveries at AncestryDNA

Mitochondrial DNA

  • Introduction to mtDNA
  • Getting to Know Your mtDNA Match Page

YDNA:

  • What is YDNA? Basic principles of yDNA testing
  • Navigating Family Tree DNA for YDNA

These video classes have been added to the long list of current Premium videos by Lisa Louise Cooke and other experts on methodology, genealogy records, Google searching, maps and geography, organizing your genealogy, mobile genealogy, Evernote, using the cloud, storytelling, and technology. Remember, Premium eLearning members also still enjoy exclusive access to the monthly Genealogy Gems Premium Podcast and more than 150 archived episodes online. These full-length audio shows take you deeper into the stories, strategies, skills, and inspiration you need to keep going in your quest to know your family history.

PREMIUM ELEARNING COMPANION GUIDE BOOK

Here’s more good news. We have published a brand new Premium eLearning Companion Guide book! This 300+ page workbook has the show notes from the first 100 episodes of the Premium Podcast, which are indexed by topic AND completely updated for 2018 (things have changed a lot over the years!). Plus it has dozens of handouts from our Premium Videos, including the new DNA videos just added. The workbook is spiral bound to lay flat for writing, with space for taking notes throughout. Get the most out of your learning and have all the information you need at-a-glance on the printed page. We launched this brand new book at RootsTech 2018. Now it’s available to all Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning members for just $29.95 (and we’ll even ship it to you for free).

The cost of a full year of Genealogy Gems Premium eLearning is about the same as one webinar from some companies—and MUCH less than attending a genealogy conference in person, where you can only attend a few classes one time. Why not invest in a year-long ongoing genealogy education for one low fee?

Save 20% off a 1 year Premium eLearning membership with coupon code: SPRING

Offer Valid: 3/22/18 – 4/1/18 at 11:59 CST. Applicable to membership only. 1 use per person, valid on both new and renewal.

How to Use the NEW MyHeritage DNA Chromosome Browser

The new MyHeritage DNA chromosome browser offers two different kinds of browsing–and a triangulation tool. Here’s what these tools are and how to work with them.

Just last year, if you had asked me if I thought anyone could catch AncestryDNA in their race to own the genetic genealogy market, I would have been skeptical. However, it is clear that MyHeritage intends to be a contender, and they are quickly ramping up their efforts to gain market share–and your confidence.

MyHeritage began 2018 by making a much needed change to their DNA matching algorithm, which had some errors in it. They were able to adjust it, and now it is humming right along, telling our second cousins from our fourth. Another development, launched in February, is the addition of a Chromosome Browser.

The new MyHeritage DNA Chromsome Browser

Much like you would browse the library shelves for the perfect book, or browse through the sale rack for a great bargain, you can use a Chromosome Browser to look through your chromosomes for the pieces of DNA you share with your genetic cousins. Chromosome Browsers can be everything from a fun way to review your genetic genealogy results, to a tool to assist in determining how you are related to someone else. Let’s go over three tips to help you make use of this new tool:

Navigating to the Chromosome Browser

There are actually two different kinds of Chromosome Browsers in MyHeritage: one to view only the segments you share with one match (the One-to-One Browser), and a browser where you can see the segments shared with multiple matches (the One-to-Many Browser).

To get to the One-to-One Browser, head over to your match page and find a cousin for whom you would like to see your shared DNA segments. Click on Review DNA Match, then scroll down past all the individual match information, past the Shared Matches and Shared Ethnicities until you see the Chromosome Browser.

Using the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser

To find the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser, you can use the main DNA navigation menu at the top of the MyHeritage homepage. Click on DNA, then on Chromosome Browser, as shown below.

In the One-to-Many Chromosome Browser you can compare yourself, or any account you manage, to anyone else in your match page. To choose a match to evaluate, just click on their name and they will be added to the queue at the top:

Clicking on Compare will then allow you to see the actual segments you share with each person:

In this One-To-Many view, each individual match gets their own line for each chromosome. Since we have added 7 people to the Chromosome Browser, there are seven lines next to each chromosome number. Each match not only gets their own line, but also their own color. So you can easily match up the lines on the chromosome to the match that shares that piece of DNA with you. For the majority of people the majority of the time, these Chromosome Browsers are just another fun way to visualize the connection you have with your DNA match. In the end, it doesn’t matter where you are sharing on the chromosome, just how much DNA you are sharing. You can obtain that information from your main match page and never look at this Chromosome Browser image, and still make fantastic genetic genealogy discoveries.

The Triangulation Tool

Another feature of the Chromosome Browser on MyHeritage is the Triangulation tool. To understand how this works, you first need to understand that you actually have two copies of each chromosome. Two copies of chromosome 1, two copies of chromosome 2, etc. One copy is from mom, and the other from dad. However, in the Chromosome Browser image, you see only one line for yourself (in grey). Therefore, when you see someone matching you on chromosome 14, for example, you don’t know if that person is matching you on the chromosome 14 you got from your mom, or the chromosome 14 you got from your dad.

Likewise, if you see two people whose shared piece with you looks to be in the same location on the same chromosome, you can’t tell if they are both sharing on the same copy of that chromosome, or if one match is related to your dad’s family, and the other match is related to your mom’s family. However, this is what the Triangulation tool does for us. It tells us if two (or three or four, etc.) matches are sharing on the same copy of the same chromosome. Be careful when you use this tool, though. Many erroneously assume that when they see a segment shared between multiple people, that indicates the presence of a recent common ancestor for all of those people. However, that is not always the case.

Start Using the MyHeritage DNA Chromsome Browser

Ready to start exploring what the MyHeritage DNA chromosome browser may tell you about your family history? You have two options. Click here to upload your autosomal DNA test results from another company to MyHeritage for FREE. Or click here to order a MyHeritage DNA test kit. Either way, you can start using all the great tools at MyHeritage DNA!

The Author: Diahan Southard

The Author: Diahan Southard

Your DNA Guide

Diahan is Your DNA Guide at Genealogy Gems! She has worked with the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and has been in the genetic genealogy industry since it has been an industry. She holds a degree in Microbiology and her creative side helps her break the science up into delicious bite-sized pieces for you. She’s the author of a full series of DNA guides for genealogists.

Disclosure: This article contains affiliate links and Genealogy Gems will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on these links (at no additional cost to you). Thank you for supporting Genealogy Gems!

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