DNA Test Can Trace Your Ancestral Origins Back 1,000 Years

By Carl Engelking | May 2, 2014 2:55 pm

DNA

Most of us can broadly trace our ancestral roots to a country or general region on the planet. But a new DNA test can locate where your relatives lived over 1,000 years ago, and in some cases, even pinpoint the specific village or island your ancestors came from.

The new DNA test was over 80 percent successful in tracing people from around the world back to their ancestral origins. Such knowledge could help improve personalized medicine, forensic science and research pertaining to ancestral origins of different human populations.

Retracing Our Past

Eran Elhaik of the University of Sheffield and Tatiana Tatarinova from the University of Southern California invented the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) test, which works by scanning a person’s DNA for parts that were formed as a result of two ancestors from disparate populations having children: for example, a Viking and Briton falling in love after Vikings invaded Britain in the 11th century.

Once a mixed DNA signature is detected, it is compared with reference data from people around the world that haven’t moved for hundreds of years. Finally, a computer program calculates how close to these populations a person’s ancestors lived and pinpoints a location.

Elhaik applied the GPS test to roughly 600 individuals from around the world—including regions as far-flung as Kuwait, Puerto Rico, Bermuda and Peru. The GPS correctly assigned 83 percent of the individuals to their ancestral country, and 50 percent of them within 62 miles of their point of origin. Elhaik and his team published findings regarding the test’s efficacy this week in Nature Communications.

Where Are You From?

If you are interested in tracing your DNA back to its origin, you’ll need to provide a saliva sample, pay about $100 to have your DNA read, and pay an additional $35 to have your ancestral home identified. You can begin your quest by visiting Prosapia Genetics online.

 

Photo credit: Sergey Nivens/Shutterstock

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Health & Medicine, top posts
MORE ABOUT: genetics
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