Editor’s note: We’ve included a full list of regions and countries that have been added to the Ancestry Composition report at the end of this post.
DNA is both a blueprint for life and a record of it, allowing us to learn more about what is written in each of us as our understanding of genetics progresses.
23andMe is improving its interactive Ancestry Composition report, vastly increasing a person’s power to peer deeper into their genetic origins, connect them to different populations around the world, and to learn more about themselves.
Geographic Origins of Your DNA
This new update — which customers will begin seeing in the coming months — will compare you to more than 150 populations and regions across the globe to create a visualization of the geographic origins of your DNA.*
We all have a DNA story, and that story is part of the broader human story. It’s a history of people migrating out of Africa and venturing out to populate the globe and build new cultures. The footsteps of those ancestors can be seen in your DNA. Over millennia, as different groups of people separated from each other to move into new frontiers, small genetic changes occurred leaving us tiny clues about our history.
We can find these clues by looking at segments of DNA in your genome, comparing those segments to reference populations from Europe, Asia, the Americas, Oceania, the Middle East and Africa.
Traditionally, our Ancestry Composition report compared customers’ data to 31 different populations, allowing 23andMe to report the percentage of DNA that came from those regions. This helped connect individuals to their ancestry back 500 years before the advent of modern migration.
With this new update, we still make those estimates but add another layer of insights with clues to the location of much more recent ancestors. We can do this by looking for exact DNA matches between a customer and over 130,000 individuals of known ancestry from 120 regions across the globe.
If a person exactly matches with five or more individuals from one of those specific regions, that region is assigned as a “recent ancestor location.” We also report the “strength” of the match. This is determined by how much DNA a customer shares with people from that region, adjusted by how many people are in the reference population.
We’re excited to roll out this update to an already incredibly powerful interactive tool for exploring your ancestry. Beyond dramatically increasing the number of regions, the update also includes improvements to the map. In addition it improve the experience of panning and zooming into the geographic regions you are linked to through your DNA. We’ve also relabeled some of the populations for accuracy and better understanding. For example Yakut has been relabeled as Siberian. Taken together, these changes to 23andMe’s Ancestry Composition report provide a better way to visualize your ancestry. As with all the features and reports we offer customers, this one includes details on the science behind the tool so they know how these estimates are made.
The Human Story
Beyond what Ancestry Composition offers, we also have additional ancestry-related tools that are unique to the 23andMe experience. And those tools connect you to the broader human story and its deep history.
These include the first-ever Neanderthal Ancestry report and 23andMe’s maternal and paternal haplogroup reports. The Neanderthal Ancestry report offers you another way to bring your own connection to the human story. It shows you how your own DNA includes tiny fragments of DNA from Neanderthals, our ancient human cousins.
23andMe’s haplogroup reports connect you to your haplogroups, different lineages that descended from a common ancient ancestor. As our ancestors ventured out of Africa, they branched off in diverse groups that crossed and recrossed the globe over tens of thousands of years. Your connections to those ancient migrations can be traced by looking at your haplogroups. 23andMe’s haplogroup reports give you insight into these ancient ancestors. Together these two reports connect you to your deep ancestry, showing you how you connect with groups of people who migrated across the globe over millenia.
The update to our Ancestry Composition feature is another example of how much more you can learn by exploring your own DNA. New customers who purchased our Ancestry Service kit as of February 28th will see this new update when they get their results. We’ve been gradually rolling out the update to existing customers. All customers will begin seeing this 23andMe Ancestry Composition update in the coming months.
*23andMe’s Ancestry Composition update with 120 additional regions will be coming soon to all 23andMe customers.
List of Regions and Countries Included in this Ancestry Composition Update
British & Irish
- United Kingdom
French & German
- Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Czech Republic
Broadly Northwestern European
Broadly Southern European
East Asian & Native American
- North Korea
- South Korea
Manchurian & Mongolian
- Hong Kong
- Mainland China
- Costa Rica
- Dominican Republic
- El Salvador
- Puerto Rico
Broadly East Asian
Broadly East Asian & Native American
Western Asian & North African
North African & Arabian
- Saudi Arabia
- United Arab Emirates
Broadly Western Asian & North African
- Cabo Verde
Broadly Sub-Saharan African
Broadly South Asian
- Sri Lanka
- American Samoa