Thoughts on DNA

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I recently did my DNA and found out some surprising information. Although I don’t hold much stock in the results, especially as they can vary between calculators, I do use it to verify information I’ve received and to gather information about the general areas that my family is from.

My main break down is (in order):

Northern European (French, Scottish/Orcadian, North Norwegian, North Eastern Swedish, and North Western Russian).

Northern Finnish.

Mediterranean (primarily Greek), Ashkenazi.

(with smaller amounts of South Asian/Indian and Siberian depending on the test).

There are various different calculators available to find your “admixture”, and although results vary between each calculator, it can help in affirming suspicions about ancestry. This is the first time I’ve really sat down to compare and contrast results, as well as compile all the results in one place. One of the most useful things I’ve encountered is the ability to use the results for health analysis (we’ll get into that later!)

The first websites I’ll introduce are the more simple ones – Ancestry (original test site), FamilyTreeDNA (myFTDNA), DNA.land, and MyHeritage. I also just submitted to 23andMe for my mtDNA haplogroup (but will also get their other heritage services too. Won’t get that for a few weeks still). Many of these calculators use terms broadly (such as ‘Scandinavia’ and are not technically historically (or politically) accurate, so it’s best to check what countries they are specifically referring to when they paint with such broad strokes).

Ancestry results show Scotland, Finland/NW Russia, Eastern Europe, Jewish. The categories are quite limited. I register less than <1% South or West Asian with this one.

myFTDNA results are pretty useless. 95% European (including everywhere mentioned in all the other tests, but not broken down. Was kind of a waste of $19). But, it has provided a wealth of information from my matches, including mtDNA and family tree comparisons.

DNA.land includes West Europe (Northern Britain, Iceland, and Norway), Finnish (only Finnish in Finland – no minority groups), and North Slavic (which I think is mostly North Western Russia). The grouping here is slightly odd to me.. but, fairly consistent with other sites (though missing any Asian).

MyHeritage  shows British and Scandinavian, but not Finnish – though I’ve read that it’s not separated beyond (the incorrect) “Scandinavian”, plus Eastern European and Baltic, and Ashkenazi Jewish, with a teeny part South Asian. It has no Northern Russian grouping.

WeGene is another analysis site. According to this site I am French, Finnish/Russian, Hungarian, and only 5% English (and small parts of Chinese (not broken down, but includes Tungusic, Udmurt, and Komi), Ashkenazi and Indian). This actually, could be the most accurate of ALL of the tests I’ve done.

Gencove: A site where you can upload results from any major test provider. This gives me similar to all the others (but on an even broader level). It has for me “Northern Europe” and “Northeast Europe”. That’s it. NO breakdown, whatsoever. But, the site also allows plug-ins with other apps (including those for heritage and health) for small sums of money. As it gives you $3 in credits, I decided to do a couple.

I did one with the “Ancestry” app and apparently a bunch of my DNA did not match with anything in their sample files. So, that really wasn’t very helpful.

I did a second test with their “Admixture K29” app and came up as 42% French, 44% Scandinavian (Norway/Sweden), 8% Belarusian/Ukrainian, 5% South Asian, and 2% Greek-Albanian.

GedMatch (and GedMatch Genesis, which is a newer beta version and lists some admixtures slightly differently) which can be a bit confusing. They have a large number of admixture tests available and all produce different results. Many are purely for ancient DNA populations or African and Asian populations. Oracle results give an indication of their reference populations who most closely share your results. I’ll give a breakdown of the top results below in order by relevant test (the test name, top admixture results and top oracle results if provided (single, mixed x2 and x4).

For more information about each calculator go here. Those not included are not applicable or were updated versions of the same test in the list. I did not list anything below 10 percent (except S. Asian/Indian which hovers between 5-15%) and anything below 5 percent is usually considered statistical “noise”:

MDLP K23b: This is mostly for ancient DNA (such as European Early Farmers etc) and the oracle results are pretty interesting: Northern European, East Norwegian, Swedish, West Norwegian, and Icelandic. Mixed mode population sharing top result is British and Swedish Saami/Finnish Saami, with other results being Scottish, French and East Norwegian, and British and North Russian/Belarusian. Oracle_4, the top results – for two population approximation: Belgian and Northern Swedish. For four population, it gives me a list of Roma and East Norwegian/Northern Swedish/Swedish Saami/Finnish Saami  in varying arrangements. This is the only test that provides Roma and Saami as reference populations. MDLP World-22: These results are a little more in-depth adding things like Samoedic, North Siberian, and Indo-Tibetan. Interestingly, I hit on North Siberian but NOT East Siberian on this one, as well as getting a bit of Samoedic and North Amerind. MDLP World: This has completely different regions of the world to the 22 calculator. The mixed mode oracle thinks I’m Norwegian and Jewish and drops my British result way off the bottom of the chart.

Eurogenes K13: This calculator focuses on slightly different regions and is mainly for those with known European ancestry. My results in order of percentage here are: North Atlantic, Baltic, West_Med, East_Med, West_Asian, South_Asian, Siberian, Amerindian. Oracle gives me again Swedish and Finnish. Oracle mixed mode is a run of North Swedish, Finnish, and Norwegian mixed with Orcadian. Oracle 4x gives me a mix of North Swedish, North Norwegian, North Finnish, and English or Orcadian. Eurogenes EU Test V2 K15: This is fairly similar to the K13 test, just seeming to break down Africa and Asia into smaller components. My main areas here are: North Sea, Atlantic, Eastern Euro, West Med, East Asian, South Asian, Amerindian, Siberian. Eurogenes K9b: This is apparently specifically for European only analysis. My main results here are: North European, Mediterranean, South East Asian, South West Asian, and Native American (thinking this is the Amerindian/North_Amerindian/Siberian of the other tests). Eurogenes K9: Similar to K9b, but gives me North European, Mediterranean, South Asian, North Amerindian + Arctic, and Siberian. Eurogenes K11: North Atlantic, South Baltic, Mediterranean, Volga_Ural (Russia), South Asian. Eurogenes K36: This is by far one of the largest breakdowns. My results here are: North Atlantic, North Sea, Fennoscandian, Iberian, Eastern Euro, Basque, Siberian (but drops out Volga_Ural).

JTest: Jewish Ashkenazi, 14 global populations but mostly European, this is essentially the EUtest with an Ashkenazi category. (I tested and came up with about 20% Ashkenazi, but the main areas were still the same except for that (lowered my Mediterranean percentage and added in the Ashkenazi). The oracle shows Ashkenazi as a 4x population.

EUTest: This provides much broader categories: North_Central_Euro, Atlantic, East Euro, South Baltic, West Med, South Asian, Siberian. The oracle here gives me North Finnish, North Swedish, East Finnish, and Komi in various mixtures, plus adds populations like Udmurt, Selkup, and Belarusian.

Dodecade World9: Removes any European component. Atlantic_Baltic, Southern, South Asian, and Siberian. Oracle = British, Finnish, Polish, and Nenets, Aleut, Mari, FIN30, Yakut. Dodecad K7b: Atlantic_Baltic, Southern, South Asian, Siberian. Oracle includes groups such as Finnish, Norwegian, British mixed with Aleut, Mari, Selkup, Ket, etc (the 4x adds in Belarusian) Dodecad K12b: Northern European, Atlantic Med, Caucasus, Siberian, South East Asian, South West Asian. Oracle results are pretty much the same as previously, including Chuvash, Russian, Finnish, and Yakut, Selkup, etc.

PuntDNAL K15: NE_European, Mediterranean, Caucasian, S_Indian, Siberian, Amerindian. Oracle gives me Norwegian, Scottish, Swedish, Karelian and the mix is Swedish, Norwegian, Polish or Scottish with each other and Karelian.

You can also do an admixture/oracle search with known minority (and other) populations that exist in the databases such as Roma, Saami, or others. If you bring up your own DNA admixture for a particular test that has the reference population you want to look at, opening the spreadsheet will give you a list of all reference populations and their average scores for each population group in the calculator. The only test that has Roma, Saami, and many of the other minority reference populations (such as Komi, Selkup, Kumyk, etc.), is MDLP K23b. Below is a comparison chart of various country populations/ethnicities and my results:

As you can see most of my results from the various tests share the same general groups: Northern Europe (specifically France, Northern Norway, Sweden, and Finland, and North Western Russia), Mediterranean (Greek),  Siberian, Ashkenazi and South Indian. The results above in particular, indicate my Romani heritage (though this test parses it particularly high, S. Indian is usually around 8 or 9%) , as well as my suspected Finnish Saami heritage (at this point, though, I’m still only referring to it as “Finnish” as I can’t be sure until I can trace my family line. After all, my DNA also has hints of Komi and Karelian Russian). Many of these tests don’t do a good job yet of separating groups out, so everything needs to be taken with a bit of salt. However, if you do have suspicions about your history, a DNA test can definitely help to back up information you’re finding elsewhere.

After learning just how much Scandinavian/Finnish I am (I mean, 44% and up in these tests?) I really want to learn more. Why was it kept secret? I found some information from a family member (in Finland) that ties into things I’ve learned myself, but I’m hesitant to say that I have this or that heritage based solely on these DNA results. Yes, they’re nice to essentially “prove” some things, but I can’t base my identity on them.

I’m also really struggling finding Finnish records though, so I think I’m going to have to learn some Finnish! [Hyvää päivänjatkoa! Oli kiva jutella kansassi!]

 

 

2 Replies to “Thoughts on DNA”

  1. this is fascinating! how do you feel about the results? I mean, I know it was a bit of a surprise, but now there’s so much more to look into and learn! does having this information make you feel…I don’t know, more ‘at home’ with yourself, or in the world? I feel like having mine will help me feel more…me, I guess! <3

    1. Yes, yes! Omgosh! There was SO much that I just had no idea about – and now these results (and the fact that I’m able to speak to family members at the same time) is really just eye-opening and a wonderful experience. I am really happy about the results. They definitely answer MANY questions about who I am and why I am and where I come from and yes, I feel more “at home” with myself now… some of the questions I’ve been asking my whole life have been answered…

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