AncestryDNA is the genetic genealogy database service of myfamily.com (the owner of Ancestry.com). AncestryDNA offers an autosomal DNA test, two Y chromosome DNA tests and a basic mitochondrial DNA test. AncestryDNA does not itself carry out DNA testing. The Y-DNA and mtDNA tests purchased at the AncestryDNA site are contracted out to to Sorenson Genomics. It is not currently known which lab does the testing for Ancestry's autosomal DNA test.
Ancestry's Y-DNA tests
Y-DNA tests can be purchased from Ancestry which will report results for 33 markers or 46 markers. Note, however, that these tests include three markers that are very rare in the normal population, so most males ordering those tests will not receive results for the full number of markers claimed. Other testing companies will report values for these markers where found but will not include them in the total count. Note also that Ancestry do not currently have any facility to test single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) to confirm haplogroup predictions.
Y-chromosome DNA test results obtained from companies other than AncestryDNA can be manually entered into AncestryDNA's database (although currently, some marker results may require conversion to the AncestryDNA format), and thus can be used to find matches within this database. For access to the database, a free Ancestry.com "Registered Guest" account suffices. Paid accounts, at either Ancestry.com or myfamily.com, are not required. (Some web links at AncestryDNA will, under certain conditions, send the browser to a myfamily.com site, suggesting that an account be purchased there.) A separate Ancestry.com account is required for each DNA result you wish to add to their database.
Comparing Ancestry and FTDNA results
The way in which testing companies report the values for the various markers is not yet consistent though eventually all companies will conform to the NIST (US National Institute of Standards and Technology) standards. Ancestry's markers now conform to the NIST standards but Family Tree DNA, with their much larger database, have not yet completed the upgrade. In the meantime to compare results between the two different testing companies it is necessary to convert some of the marker values. A useful guide to the conversion process is provided here.
AncestryDNA results can be uploaded free of charge to Y-search, a public Y-DNA database sponsored by Family Tree DNA. Results can also be compared with those on other public DNA databases such as the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation's database and the Y Chromosome Haplotype Reference Database.
In August 2011 Family Tree DNA announced that it would accept third-party transfers from people who had taken a Y-DNA test with companies that used the Sorenson Genomics Laboratories. Ancestry customers are therefore now eligible to transfer their results to the larger FTDNA database and join the various surname, haplogroup and geographical projects. It is however necessary to pay a small fee for the transfer to preserve the integrity of the database. Further information on the process can be found in the Third-party transfers FAQs. Y-DNA results from third-party Sorenson transfers are prefixed in the FTDNA database with the letter B.
Reviews of the Ancestry Y-DNA test
- Y-DNA - FTDNA vs Ancestry by Roberta Estes
Ancestry's mtDNA test
Ancestry offers a single mtDNA test which sequences hypervariable regions 1 and 2 (HVR2 bases 1-390 and HVR1 bases 16000-16569). Note that the testing companies do not use the same nomenclature to describe the hypervariable regions. At Family Tree DNA HVR2 includes bases 1-574. Companies that use the Sorenson Genomics Labs split HVR2 into two sections HVR2 (bases 1-390) and HVR3 (bases 391-574). Note that Ancestry does not provide any SNP testing to confirm the mtDNA haplogroup assignments. Haplogroup assignments can be checked by using James Lick's mtHap utility which can be found at http://dna.jameslick.com/mthap. In many cases it will not be possible to provide a definitive haplogroup designation without additional testing.
For information on Ancestry's mtDNA matching system see the blog post by Roberta Estes entitled The trouble with Ancestry.com matches.
Ancestry's autosomal DNA test
- Ancestry.com venturing into autosomal DNA Testing? by CeCe Moore, 6 October 2011. She reports that some Ancestry.com subscribers are being offered the chance of a free upgrade to Ancestry's new autosomal DNA service. The offer is limited to the first 2000 who register.
- More details on Ancestry.com's new autosomal DNA test offering by CeCe Moore, 1 November 2011. She reports that Ancestry is "offering the opportunity to 10,000 more 'selected' Ancestry.com subscribers (apparently chosen from among those who have manually uploaded DNA results to their site) to submit their DNA for the cost of shipping only". The offer is restricted to Ancestry.com subscribers in the US.
Ancestry announced the launch of its new autosomal DNA testing service on 3 May 2012. The Ancestry autosomal DNA test is currently restricted to US residents, and it is not yet known if the test will be made available in other countries.
The Ancestry autosomal test has a unique feature whereby common ancestors are identified by Shared Ancestor Hints as can be seen from the screenshot below. Results can also be filtered for those who have a "hint". A number of ISOGG members in the US have reported receiving a large number of meaningful matches thanks to this feature. See also the blog post from Ancestry.com AncestryDNA discoveries made easier with the help of the shaky leaf.
Note that Ancestry do not currently (October 2013) offer a chromosome browser to allow users to compare matching segments of DNA. Caution needs to be exercised with the matches found through the leaf hints as the user will not be able to tell whether or not the matches are legitimate. For an easy-to-understand visual explanation of the problem see Bitstrips cartoon Find new ancestors with DNA.
From 12 September 2013 onwards Ancestry began to roll out updated ethnicity estimates. The ethnicity results incorporate six new West African DNA regions to provide an improved ethnicity estimate for customers of West African ancestry.. The updated ethnicity estimates were rolled out to the entire database by 17 October 2013.
AncestryDNA currently (June 2013) does not provide any facility to search matches by surname. An Ancestry member user has developed an extension that can be used with the Google Chrome browser which will allow users to perform surname searches. Instructions are provided in Judy Russell's blog post Making AncestryDNA useful (The Legal Genealogist, 2 June 2013). AncestryDNA have indicated that a surname and location search filter is in development. CeCe Moore has provided a preview in her blog post A sneak peek at the UPDATED AncestryDNA search filter (Your Genetic Genealogist, 13 June 2013).
AncestryDNA testees can transfer their autosomal DNA results to Family Tree DNA's Family Finder database where they can search for additional matches, join projects and use a more advanced range of tools to compare results. A small fee is charged. Details can be found in the FTDNA FAQs.
Reviews of the AncestryDNA autosomal DNA test
- Ancestry.com's Autsomal DNA launch - First look! by CeCe Moore, 6 March 2012
- My (free) Ancestry.com DNA results – a comparison to FamilyTreeDNA by Lauren Mahieu (Genejourneys blog), 6 March 2012
- Ancestry.com autosomal DNA test – Part II by Lauren Mahieu, 10 March 2012
- New information on Ancestry.com's AncestryDNA product by CeCe Moore, 30 March 2012
- Ancestry.com’s AncestryDNA Product by Blaine Bettinger, 1 April 2012
- A review of AncestryDNA – Ancestry.com’s new autosomal DNA Test by Blaine Bettinger, 2 April 2012
- AncestryDNA and a Possible Faux Pa by The Genealogue, 13 June 2012
- Problems with AncestryDNA’s Genetic Ethnicity Prediction? by Blaine Bettinger, 19 June 2012
- My review of AncestryDNA's admixture tool and a glimpse into the future of genetic genealogy by CeCe Moore, 26 June 2012
- First thoughts on my AncestryDNA results by Valerie Craft, 31 July 2012 (includes screenshots of tree matches)
- First looks at AncestryDNA by Judy G. Russell, 5 August 2012
- Ancestry’s consent form for AncestryDNA autosomal test by Roberta Estes, 16 August 2012
- My Ancestry autosomal DNA test Part I: Consent forms and admixture analyses by Debbie Kennett, 21 August 2012
- My Ancestry autosomal DNA test Part 2: The matching process by Debbie Kennett, 22 August 2012
- Ancestry's response to my request for my raw genetic data by Debbie Kennett 30 August 2012
- Is history repeating itself at Ancestry? by Roberta Estes, 30 August 2012
- Ancestry autosomal results are back by Roberta Estes, 10 September 2012
- Ancestry's mythical admixture percentages by Roberta Estes, 24 October 2012
- AncestryDNA: interface improvements by Judy Russell, 6 January 2013
- AncestryDNA: an explanation and a promise by Judy Russell, 13 January 2013
- AncestryDNA updates by Debbie Kennett, 22 March 2013
- AncestryDNA releases raw data by Blaine Bettinger, 24 March 2013
- The raw data at AncestryDNA by Judy Russell, 24 March 2013
- Downloading AncestryDNA's raw data file by Roberta Estes, 21 March 2013
- AncestryDNA, raw data and Rootstech by CeCe Moore, 25 March 2013
- AncestryDNA - Should you test and what do you get? Genealogy for the Everyman blog, 30 May 2013.
- AncestryDNA launches new ethnicity estimate by Blaine Bettinger, 12 September 2013.
- DNA disappointment by Judy Russell, 15 September 2013.
- My updated ethnicity results from AncestryDNA - a British perspective by Debbie Kennett, 17 September 2013.
Ancestry.com has toll-free/freephone telephone contact numbers in six countries: United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Sweden. A list of numbers can be found here. They provide a telephone service for DNA enquiries in five countries: United States, UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada. The contact numbers are the same as the Ancestry.com numbers but outside North America the operating hours are much shorter. Details can be found here. ISOGG members in the UK have reported that if they ring the UK Ancestry telephone number with a DNA query they are transferred free of charge to the US site if the UK representative is not able to answer the question. The call must be made within the appropriate hours.
Ancestry.com previously offered a short-lived DNA testing service in 2002 in partnership with Relative Genetics. They sold a 23-marker Y-DNA test, which was known as the "GenetiKit Genealogy Paternal Ancestry Signature". They also offered a mitochondrial DNA "Native American Haplotype Test" and a "Mitochondrial DNA Sequencing Test" used for establishing maternal relationships. Family Tree DNA subsequently accepted transfers from Ancestry.com. These transfers appear in FTDNA personal pages as an "AncestryconversionKit".
- Ancestry.com DNA FAQs accessed 4 September 2012
- Link to manually enter results from other testing companies (you must be logged in to Ancestry.com in another browser window for this link to work) - accessed 6 January 2013
- Ancestry.com Launches New AncestryDNA Service: The Next Generation of DNA Science Poised to Enrich Family History Research Ancestry.com press release, 3 May 2012.
- Pam Velazquez. Sneak peek into the AncestryDNA ethnicity update – coming soon to your DNA Results! Ancestry.com blog, 12 September 2013.
- Julie Granka. AncestryDNA makes scientific breakthrough in West African ethnicity. Ancestry.com Tech Roots blog, 12 September 2013
- Ancestry.com press release. AncestryDNA™ Now a More Comprehensive DNA Test for Exploring Ethnic Origins. 17 October 2013.
- MyFamily.com and Relative Genetics Partner to Deliver the Most Extensive Genetic Genealogical Service in the World Ancestrycom press release, 2002.
- Roberta Estes. Is history repeating itself at Ancestry? DNAeXplained blog, 30 August 2012.
- DNA Ancestry official site
- Access to DNA groups and matches
- The Ancestry.com blog
- Ancestry's DNA Research message boards
- Ancestry.com on Facebook
- Ancestry.com on Twitter
- Description of Ancestry.com "Registered Guest" accounts
- Sorenson Genomics, LLC official site
- myfamily.com official site
- Transcript, Meeting 10, Session 12 A transcript of a presentation given by Ken Chahine, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA, to the Presidential Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues at a meeting held on 1 August 2012 in Washington DC.