MyHeritage announces new DNA ethnicity analysis

By Rosemary Collins, 6 June 2017 - 10:07am

Ethnicity Estimate covers 42 ethnic regions, more than any other company

Users will receive the new Ethnicity Estimate for free

MyHeritage DNA users can now trace their origins to 42 different ethnic groups with a free new analysis tool.

The new and improved Ethnicity Estimate raises the number of ethnic regions covered by MyHeritage DNA from 36 to 42, more than any other major DNA company.

MyHeritage allows users who have tested their DNA already with another service to upload their data and receive DNA Matches for free.

From 1 June, users who have already uploaded their DNA data to MyHeritage, or who will upload it in the coming months, will also receive the new Ethnicity Estimate for free.

Gilad Japhet, founder and CEO of MyHeritage, said: “We’ve been able to dig deeper where others had considered their work complete. Presented in a fresh look and generously given for free to DNA data uploaders, our users will be thrilled and can count on us to continue to innovate in DNA and delight them with new discoveries about who they really are.”

MyHeritage DNA is now the only mass-market percentage-based DNA test that covers ethnicities such as Balkan, Baltic, Inuit, Japanese, Kenyan, Sierra Leonean, Somali, Indigenous Amazonian, Papuan and four major Jewish groups — Ethiopian, Yemenite, Sephardic from North Africa and Mizrahi from Iran and Iraq.

The Ethnicity Estimate was made possible by MyHeritage’s Founder Populations Project — one of the largest of its kind ever conducted.

It involved handpicking more than 5,000 users from MyHeritage’s 90 million user base, whose family trees showed consistent ancestry from the same region or ethnicity for many generations.

MyHeritage scientists used the data from the participants, who received free DNA tests, to develop breakthrough ethnicity models.

The new Ethnicity Estimate is also much more accurate than previous versions. For example, the new version can detect German, French, Dutch, and other related ethnicities as North and West European, whereas previously many of them were incorrectly described as British.

English ethnicity is also now detected separately from Irish, Scottish and Welsh, instead of being grouped together under the name ‘British Isles’. MyHeritage hopes to be able to differentiate between Irish, Scottish and Welsh in the future.

The new Ethnicity Estimate shows users a ‘reveal’ video, pinpointing their heritage on an animated globe, which can be shared on social media.

Dr Yaniv Erlich, chief science officer at MyHeritage, said that the Ethnicity Estimate was “only an appetizer”.

He added that planned improvements included increased accuracy, extending the Founder Populations project, and improve the resolution for ethnicities of great interest to MyHeritage’s diverse users.

MyHeritage warned that the Ethnicity Estimate was still an estimate and users should treat results with caution and provide feedback on areas which could be improved.

To upload your DNA results to MyHeritage for free, click here.

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