23andMe Ancestry Genetic Test
Update: 23andMe will be releasing a new report on Type 2 Diabetes tomorrow as per the latest update from CEO Anne Wojcicki
23andMe is one of the largest genealogy companies in the world with a database of around 1.5 million genomes. They offer various ancestry services such as ancestry composition, Neanderthal composition and DNA Relatives finder
- Large genealogy community
- Provides Chromosome Browser facility
- Regular free updates for existing customers
- Ancestry results are skewed towards the Western population
23andMe Ancestry Genetic Test Review: Summary
I had always been curious about my ancestry; I grew up not knowing anything at all about my father and his side of the family, and next to nothing about my mother’s side. I had been informed about the possibility of Ancestry Testing providing some answers and although I was initially skeptical, I agreed to give it a shot. I found this DNA testing service to be easy to use, straightforward, and ultimately very rewarding in the information it provided. It wasn’t just about providing a result and handwaving the way it was achieved either, I was given a technical but easy to understand breakdown of how the test functioned on a scientific basis, as well as what most of the words and phrases used in the result actually meant, as a lot of it went above my head. It also provided the extremely useful tool to help track down members of my family, which with my background turned out to be a huge blessing.
If there was anything I could change about the test, it would be the amount of technical detail included in the results, as it became too complicated to keep track of and understand after some time. Aside from that, the test was quite surprisingly reasonably prized and provided unmeasurable benefits in terms of knowledge and connection to family members.
DNA testing services grew from a strictly scientific endeavor to be a publicly available tool for the use of regular people who need more information about their ancestry and to track down distant relatives.
What I Expected
I went to the website with no expectations at all, dubious about the claims I’d heard about the test somehow being able to trace my lineage from more than 400 years ago with the use of DNA. The website went on to further explain that it was possible to determine the exact region my ancestors originated from – a claim I had heard celebrities talk about on television. The website also offered services to find immediate and distant family, using my DNA to find other people whose genetic material was similar, and an optional service that would enable me send messages to some of them. Needless to say, this struck an immediate cord within me and was probably the main reason I finally let go of all my misgiving and start to believe that the advertised services could be of some benefit to me after all.
I was given information about maternal and paternal haplogroups and told that as a result of me being female, I would be able to trace my maternal ancestry with the use of mDNA (or mitochondrial DNA). I also learned something that was a bit of a bummer; because I female, I would not be able to track down the paternal side of my family using my genetic material.
It is possible, of course, for biological females to still trace their paternal lineage by suing genetic material from any male relatives from my father’s side, but since I had grown up not knowing anything about him or his family and having no link to them, this avenue was effectively blocked.
After reading through and processing the information above, I was directed to a section which explained the process of placing an order, how the kit looked and functioned, how to actually take the samples and send them back – a process I had been dreading but proved to be bloodless as it required only saliva, and how to receive the results.
Ordering the 23andMe DNA Test Kit
The process of ordering the testing kit proved to be as easy and stress-free as ordering anything else over the internet – I ordered the test I wanted done (I had an option between the Ancestry test, or a combination of the health and Ancestry tests, I chose to order just the Ancestry test as I wasn’t too certain what the health test entailed). Payment was straightforward too, I made my purchase through PayPal and the sample kit arrived at my doorstep 3 days after.
I sent off the DNA sample in its original box which already had a pre-paid postage stamp attached and waited for the results. It took a total of 5 weeks for my genetic sample to reach the laboratory and for it to be analyzed, during which I was constantly kept in the loop as to the status of my test.
My 23andMe Ancestry Results
I felt a bit of trepidation when I finally got the email from the laboratory stating that my results were available, but it was quickly overwhelmed by anticipation. I followed the link to the website which required me to log in to my account in order to view my results – I appreciated this additional bit of security as I didn’t want just anybody tumbling onto information that was very dear to me.
The results were arranged in subsections, each covering different bits of information.
This subsection provided a graphical representation of the continents with darker shading over the regions that I had descended from. I found out that I was pure African, but I had a predominantly Nigerian heritage with 70.8 percent Igbo and 12.2 percent Yoruba. I found out, somewhat surprisingly that I also had origins from Northern Africa, 17.0 percent of my genetic material was apparently from Morocco. This was a surprise mostly because I had no visible Northern African features and I was left to wonder about the origin of this particular marker. I suppose it would make a great story to tell my kids.
This subsection provided information about the North African genetic material that had previously confused me; apparently sometime in the 1900s, my Northern African ancestor had swooped in to capture the heart of one of my great grand ancestors and had a kid who would, years down the line, pay for a test to trace down her heritage.
This was easily the subsection that I had most anticipated reading, and it did not disappoint. First, I had to decide the amount of information that I would be willing to share and then determine if I wanted to let any of my DNA relatives view my details and the results of my test. I was invited to create a profile which contained basic information about myself, which would then be available for my relatives to view.
The results showed that I had 207 relatives on the database, most of whom were in the United States, although several dozen of them lived in the United Kingdom. I found out that my closest relative – whom I shared 20.1 % of my genetic material with, was on the database and lived not too far away, and that I could contact him if I wanted to.
As I had previously stated, due to my being a biological female, I couldn’t directly trace the paternal side of my family but I was given some information about the maternal side of my family that surprised me; my branch of haplogroup L2 originated in West Africa and then spread throughout the continent. The test went further to describe the migration of the source of the branch, and when exactly the migration occurred leaving me stunned at the depth of research and attention to detail the test possessed.
I found the test to be worth every cent of the price charged. It was easy to use; the instructions provided on the website and in the sample collection kit were very easy to follow. I was assured every step of the way about the confidentiality of the process as well as the scientific basis of each result which provided a lot of authenticity. Most importantly, it helped me connect with family, and for someone like me who grew up not knowing my place in the world, that is a gift worth any price.
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