The majority of GEDmatch’s tools are completely free to use, all they ask for is a voluntary donation in return to help keep the service up and running. They have also introduced what they are calling tier one utilities for which there is a monthly usage fee of $10, such as your evil twin, the DNA you didn’t inherit. Although they are committed to keeping all the basic services free.
A word of warning here it’s not for the uninitiated; you’ll need to do your research to make the most of it. Until you’ve registered and created an account you won’t be able to see the home page. Once you do you’ll be able to see all the tools available to you and a series of helpful links in the learn more box, second one down on the left (I still need to read though a lot of these). I also found the following helpful ‘Gedmatch Admixture Guide’ and ‘GEDmatch: An Absolute Beginners Guide’.
Obviously in order to use any of these tools you’ll have to have had a DNA ancestry test and access to your raw DNA data so you can upload it. The process will vary from provider to provider, but my chosen provider, Living DNA, provided comprehensive instructions on how to download and upload your raw data.
You'll also need to remember to note down the code you’re given by GEDmatch when you upload you raw DNA data, as you won’t be able to use any of the tools without it.
My raw data is only compatible with GEDmatch’s new Genesis Beta database and algorithm, which is accessed from a link on the bottom right of their home page. Currently Genesis only supports uploads from companies with formats not compatible with the main database, which the Genesis database is completely separate from. This means you can only run one-to-many tests for potential genetic relatives against the Genesis database and use the admixture tools for now. I’m told that by the end of the year they hope to merge the existing database with Genesis and give all users access to all the tools and data using the new genesis algorithm.
This is where I had my Homer Simpson moment.
The next time I logged in to the default home page I completely forgot to scroll down and click the link for the Genesis Beta and emailed GEDmatch thinking there was a problem with my upload because none of the utilities recognised my code and got a polite email from one of the sites founders Curtis Rogers pointing out my error. Doh!
So embarrassment aside, what does GEDmatch tell me?
This is a scientific term for the ethnicity percentages you’ll received from a DNA ancestry test and there are seven different calculators to choose from each of which has several processing options and a choice of DNA models you can compare your raw DNA against.
Living DNA tells me I’m a 100% European (96.5% British, 3.5% Scandinavian), but focuses on recent ancestry (7-8 generations back). So will GEDmatch’s global model tell me something different?
MDLP is GEDmatch’s global calculator and I’d recommend using the default processing model Admixture Proportions (With link to Oracle) as this gives you a pie chart with a link to Oracle for further info. Selecting ‘K16 modern’ attempts to break down your DNA in global regions or populations, K represents the number of populations, in this case 16 (the higher the number the more speculative the result). K16 seems a nice mid-point on this test and also includes a brief description of each population, handy for a novice like me, as information on some of the models is not that easy to come by.
It's worth pointing out that the global population model is looking further back than Living DNA’s model and seems weighted towards ancient groups, anyway here’s what it throws up for me.
33.92% Neolithic (First farmers who migrated to Europe)
25.38% NE European (Westen hunter-gatherers)
22.20% Steepe (Bronze Age Siberian pastoralists)
16.81% Caucasian (Mesolithic Caucasian Hunter-gatherers)
0.68% NearEast (Bedouins and Saudi Arabians)
0.56% Oceanic (Aboriginal Papua-New-Guinea)
0.37% North African (Genes unique to North Africa ancestry)
0.08% Indian (Indian subcontinent ancestry)
Not quite 100% European, but it links quite nicely to my motherline ancestry which arose in Western Asia 45,000 years ago and quickly spread across the globe with notable populations in the Britain, Romania, Sardinia, the Iberian peninsula ,Basque region of Spain, Saudi Arabia and Yemen amongst others.
My fatherline is linked to the first Neolithic farmers who colonised Europe, and the Cardial Pottery culture who settled across what is now Italy, France and Iberia, before subsequently being displaced in the early Bronze Age, by Indo-Europeans invaders from the Eurasian Steppe.
In fact the history of mother and father lines would account for just about all the above apart from the 0.56% Oceanic aboriginal DNA linking me to Melanesia and Papua-New-Guinea.
The next step is to ask the Oracle. This attempts to match your origins to a more specific population or region. There are two choices; Oracle, which attempts Single Population sharing, and Mixed Mode Population Sharing; and Oracle-4 which expands it to combinations of 3 and 4 specific populations. In each case the lower the distance (@ number) the closer the match. So let’s ask the Oracle who I am?
Single population has me as French @ 2.76 or English (Kent) @ 3.81
Mixed sharing says I’m 90.1% English (Kent) and 9.9% Sardinian @ 1.9
Ssingle population has me as French @ 2.87 or English (Kent) @ 4.09
on two populations I’m 50% English (Kent) + 50% French @ 2.614850
Three populations is 50% Dutch + 25% German + 25% Spanish @ 2.123281
Four populations Basque + German + East Poland + East Poland @ 1.747220
Again while looking different on the surface this isn’t radically different from what Living DNA is telling me, that my recent ancestry is dominated by the south eastern corner of England. All of the British sub-regions which my British ancestry is broken down into are strongly influenced by French, German and Danish ancestry and to a lesser extent Belgian, Swedish, Spanish and Norwegian ancestry which would account for much of what the Oracles are telling me and is for the most part consistent with the history of my mother and father lines.
The four populations admixture is a bit of mystery, but was designed especially for people who have 4 grandparents from 4 different places, so isn’t particularly relevant to me. The Oracle results would however please my mother, if she were alive to share them with, as she was adament there undocumented Germany ancestry on her side of the family.
That’s all for now, but in my next blog I’ll be exploring what GEDmatch’s Eurogenes calculator can tell me about my European ancestry.