Using DNA testing in combination with my genealogy research has been very successful and at the same time very intriguing. Last month I explained to you that I have been doing genealogy for decades and had come to a point in genealogy that they call a brick wall on four branches of my family tree. So I decided to take a DNA test to see if it would give me any new insight on any of these branches. I choose to go with MyHeritage.com which is one of the four most popular DNA testing sites. The other three being Ancestry.com, 23andMe.com and FamilytreeDNA.com. Currently MyHeritage.com has over 95 Million users, 2.0 Billion Profiles, 8.9 Billion Historical Records and over 41 Million Family Trees on their website.
Since I have received my results from MyHeritage I have learned how to use my genetic DNA results with my genealogy. I am using some screen shots from their website to help explain some of my DNA results to you and I have blanked out my Matches personal info for privacy reasons. To really get a good understanding of how MyHeritage works you can watch this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DGi4Jb84XAc&t=2855s.
We as humans are more similar to each other than we think. All people share 99.9% of their DNA sequence in common. Only the remaining 0.1% differs from one person to another. Depending on how much DNA I share with my DNA Matches determines if we are close or distant relatives. This will show significant similarities between their DNA and mine within that 0.1%. For every DNA match, it shows the estimated relationship between me and the other person as well, based on the quantity and characteristics of the DNA that I share with that person. In the lower right corner of my login page, it shows that I currently have 4686 DNA Matches. When I first opened my results four weeks earlier I had 3576 DNA Matches, so you can see that as more people test their DNA at MyHeritage the amount of my matches can continue to increase.
My Ethnicity Estimate results shows that my DNA traces back to 8 Ethnicities, 97% from Europe, (43.1% Irish, Scottish, and Welch, 13.2% English, 5.9% Finnish, 4.9% Scandinavian, 21% Sardinian, 9.8% Greek, 2.1% from Northwest Africa. These results come from very early ancestry links.
This map view of my Ethnicity Estimates shows the approximate areas. Usually most companies that offer Autosomal DNA testing will give you an Ethnicity Estimate, but they may be different from company to company due to the formulations that they use. An Autosomal test is on your 22 Chromosomes which contain shared DNA from both your paternal and maternal sides
In the below screen shot is a first cousin once removed (who we will call “John”) currently has the highest amount of DNA to me of all my Matches on MyHeritage.com. We share a total of 537.8cM (CentiMorgans). The higher the total DNA the closer the relationship to the match. Meaning if I had a match that had approximately 3600 cM that would most likely be a parent or a sibling match. There could be other relatives who have had their DNA tested, but they may have tested with another company like Ancestry.com or 23andMe.com so unless I test with those companies I would not know about their DNA Match.
My cousin “John” has a family tree on MyHeritage with 213 people in it. After viewing his family tree I was able to see how we are related on my paternal side. Not everyone that has a Match with you includes family tree information and not everyone is a member of MyHeritage.
The Shared Matches below show the percentage of relationship with myself (on left) and with “John” (on right). In this first Shared Match you can see that there is a person who is more closely related to “John” than me. It is so high that MyHeritage suggest that this Match could be his son and they suggest that that person may also be a 1st cousin once removed to me.
It turned out that this Shared Match is “John’s” son and is my 1st cousin twice removed. To have a better understanding of relationships, here is a relationship chart to help you to understand cousin that are removed relationships. Removed basically means each generation above or below me.
MyHeritage gives you a view of all 23 Chromosomes and where my Match’s DNA and mine match. Below is a view of 22 of my 23 Chromosomes and where “John” matches on each of my Chromosomes.
MyHeritage has recently added a really nice tool that they call a Chromosome Browser. This tool helps me to compare my DNA Matches with other DNA Matches and myself. I can compare up to 7 Matches at a time by clicking on the ones I want to check. This has been really helpful in finding out which of my Matches are truly related and on what side of my tree (paternal or maternal).
When I compare them it will show me on which Chromosome they match with me and the others. As you can see these two people are very closely related to each other besides me.
If a DNA Match has a family tree available, I can get more insight about how the two of us may be related. I can also contact my DNA Matches to exchange information and ask questions.
To better learn from which branch we are related I have looked at my family tree and their family tree and found a common ancestor that we both are related to. In the beginning I started out with a small family tree on MyHeritage website by adding three generations, which is a total of 7 people. This helps MyHeritage and my DNA Matches to be able to see our connection.
MyHeritage has been emailing me when they have discovered people that could be related to me which they call Smart Matches or Instant Discoveries. My online family tree with MyHeritage has grown to over 1,200 people from these Matches. I can also use their search screen to possibly find missing people from my tree.
I have been able to break through two of the four brick walls. This has been amazing to finally complete the connection with these two branches on my paternal side. My journey continues to find the other two branches on my maternal side.
I have downloaded my Raw DNA file from MyHeritage and uploaded it to Familytreedna.com and to Gedmatch.com. It is free to upload to these two sites. They both provided DNA Matches with their own databases. From the results I have found a few matches that were the same as on MyHeritage, but there are many that are different. I believe this is because of where people have their had DNA testing done. So not all databases are the same, because not everyone tests at the same or more than one place and so I have been able to find several more matches with these two other sites.
I would have to say that I find DNA genetic genealogy very interesting and know that there is still a lot more to learn in order to make the best use of all the information that I have found.
I do recommend that if you are interested in having your DNA test done that you do your homework first. Meaning learn as much as you can about DNA genetics and then decide what you really want to learn about yourself. Is it who your related to or where your ancestry came from?
Next time I will give an overview of my results on Familytreedna.com and Gedmatch.com. Wishing you all the best in your search.