My Heritage DNA Ancestry Genetic Test
My Heritage DNA
Latest news: MyHeritage acquires Promethease and SNPedia
On September 7th, 2019, MyHeritage made an official announcement on their website about their acquisition of Promethease and SNPedia. “This marks our first consumer health acquisition and our 10th acquisition since MyHeritage’s founding. Promethease will be made free through the end of 2019 and SNPedia will remain a free wiki resource for academic and non-profit use” quotes the article.
SNPedia, launched in 2006, is a wiki-based website that keeps track and contains information about all single nucleotide polymorphisms. It links these genetic variants to medical conditions.
MyHeritage plans to maintain SNPedia as a free resource under the same terms and will utilize this comprehensive knowledge base to enhance future versions of MyHeritage’s DNA health products.
Promethease is a computer program developed by the SNPedia team, where users can get a DNA report with their DNA raw data. The Promethease reports are generated by taking into account all medical and scientific literature. Promethease currently charges $12 for its service and also lets their consumer store their DNA data.
Following this announcement, MyHeritage is transforming Promethease into a free service, effective today, and this free promotion will run until the end of 2019. MyHeritage intends to keep Promethease separate from its MyHeritage DNA health product line. Unlike Promethease, MyHeritage does not provide any health reports based on DNA data uploaded from other vendors. All of MyHeritage DNA’s health reports are based on clinical validation of the underlying DNA data.
DNA raw data transfer and privacy
As of November 1st, 2019, the DNA raw data of the existing Non-European Promethease users will be copied to MyHeritage along with a new account accessible only by the customer. This account also comes with free services like ethnicity estimates and DNA matching for relatives. If you are not interested in your DNA data and reports being copied to MyHeritage, you can delete it from the Promethease server by November 1st, 2019.
People who wish to take a genetic health test or receive health reports are encouraged to purchase the MyHeritage DNA Health+Ancestry test, which is based on clinically validated genetic markers and robust scientific research.
Promethease has sent out emails to all its users regarding the details of the acquisition bu MyHeritage for non-Europen users and the instructions for opting-in for its European users.
My Heritage DNA Ancestry Genetic Test Review: Full Review
At £69, the test is more affordable than many others on the market, especially considering that it not only offers ethnicity analysis but includes a family finder feature. I was really looking forward to seeing what it had to offer.
The MyHeritage website explained that the test would provide me with information about where in the world my DNA originated and would match me with relatives. One thing I particularly liked was a video that showed the kit and its components, as well as the process the samples would go through in the lab. I felt that this really demystified how the analysis would work, something that I didn’t expect to see explained or shown in this much detail. Being able to see the lab itself and the different checks made throughout the process also reassured me about the security of my data and the accuracy of results.
There was a section at the bottom of the page that included another video on how to take the sample. Beneath this, there was a short list of frequently asked questions, which answered both practical queries (eg. How long will it take to get results?) and broader questions about DNA testing (eg. ‘What is the connection between DNA and family trees?’). I really appreciated the effort MyHeritage had gone to guide me through the process and to make it as clear as possible what to expect when taking a DNA test before I’d even bought one.
In terms of what was provided in the report, it was explained that I’d find out information about the places in the world my ancestors had lived and would be able to find relatives, matched with me through our shared DNA. I was interested to read that MyHeritage had “the largest international network of family trees” and was looking forward to using the service to build my own.
Once I’d ordered, I received a confirmation email. I was slightly worried, as a few weeks later I hadn’t received confirmation of my samples reaching the lab, so I contacted customer service. I received a reply a few days later explaining that there was a slight delay in processing the kits. The response was polite and well-explained, and I received a receipt of my samples reaching the lab less than a week later.
After my samples had reached the lab, I was able to track them during each stage of the process. I found this feature particularly valuable, as even though the results took four weeks to arrive, it felt as if there was always progress and information on how long each stage would take.
Four weeks after my samples had been received at the lab, I got an email informing me that my results were ready. The report was made up of two main parts, ‘Ethnicity Estimate’ and ‘DNA Matches’, each of which had several different features within it.
Results section: Ethnicity Estimate
Upon clicking on the link in the email, I was shown an introduction to my ethnicity results. This introductory presentation showed me some of the origins of my DNA, accompanied by a globe that span around to show me the region each result corresponded to. A part of this introduction is shown below.
I thought that this was a really engaging way in which to present a summary of my results and it provided a great starting point from which to explore them further. I particularly enjoyed the music that played as the globe spun around, changing with each region, which I thought was a fun extra touch.
Once I had gone through the introductory section, I was able to look at my ethnicity breakdown in more detail. My full breakdown with the accompanying map is shown below.
This section presented the results slightly differently, revealing that the vast majority (99.1%) of my DNA was from Europe. Within this, 87.5% was from ‘North and West Europe’ which was then broken down into the 75.4% ‘English’ and 12.1% ‘Irish, Scottish and Welsh’ that had been shown in the introductory slide show. I was surprised but impressed that it had been able to distinguish the English aspects of my ancestry from the rest of the British Isles. One of my grandparents was Irish, so it was nice to see this aspect of my ancestry reflected in my results.
The map that accompanied my full ethnicity breakdown also highlighted each of the corresponding regions and allowed me to zoom into the countries included within them (shown below).
This provided some factual information about the history and populations associated with each of the regions and also gave me the option to see where events from my family tree had happened in the world. Unfortunately, my family’s events occurred almost exclusively in England, but I imagine this feature would have offered a great way to visualise a more wide-ranging family tree. I thought this provided an excellent link between my traditional records-based research and my DNA results.
The rest of my DNA was Balkan (7.8%), Greek (3.8%) and Native American (0.9%). I’m not aware of any Greek ancestors, so was slightly surprised by this result, but my dad has always been convinced that his dark hair and complexion are linked to some distant Mediterranean ancestry, so the Greek percentage may confirm his suspicions! My mum has been able to trace her ancestry with records to find out that she has some Eastern European ancestors, so this also matched up well with what I expected.
I was most surprised by the Native American heritage, as I have no knowledge of any Native American ancestors. However, as this was such a small percentage of my overall DNA, it seemed plausible that this could be from an ancestor further back than we’ve been able to trace with records.
Results section: DNA matches
After looking through my Ethnicity Estimate, I moved on to my DNA matches. I was impressed to see that I had over 1500 matches (1590 in total). Looking through them, I saw that most were estimated to be third to fifth cousins. Many of my matches were rated as medium or low confidence, which was helpful to know, though I wasn’t sure why not all of them included this rating.
I liked the way in which my matches were clearly displayed, and really appreciated the information about how MyHeritage had matched me to my ‘relatives’. The details about my matches included the percentage of DNA I shared with them, the number of shared segments and the length of the largest segments we shared (in cM). An example is shown below.
There was a section that explained that cM stood for centimorgans, and was used as a measure of genetic distance. It also explained that shared segments were pieces of our DNA that matched exactly. For me, the balance between providing enough information about my genetic relationship with my matches and being easily understandable was just right, and I felt I could much more clearly assess my results after reading these explanations.
After looking over the list of my matches, I clicked ‘Review DNA Match’ on one of them and discovered several extra features. These included being able to see ‘Smart Matches’ that identified people that seemed to appear in both of our family trees, ‘Shared Ancestral Surnames’, ‘Shared DNA Matches’, ‘Pedigree Charts’, designed to show our direct ancestors (i.e. our family trees) side by side and ‘Shared Ethnicities’. There was also a chromosome browser (shown below), which demonstrated where on our chromosomes, we shared DNA.
Something that I found slightly frustrating was the fact that I was only able to see a preview of many of these features and couldn’t contact my matches or even view their family trees without signing up to the MyHeritage subscription service. As the test itself was less money than many other ancestry tests I’ve seen, I would have been happy to pay a little bit extra to be able to access these features, but £54 (the cheapest option) was almost the same price as the test, so I chose not to. Some of the subscription options included other MyHeritage features, such as record matches and other non-genetic family tree building tools, so I imagine this is a more valuable option for those wanting to combine their different types of genealogy research.
Results section: Raw DNA data download
Something that I was surprised to see in my account was the ability to download my raw data. This wasn’t advertised as a feature of the test, but I was happy to discover that it was available. It wasn’t an obvious option, but I found it by clicking on ‘Manage DNA Kits’ and then on a menu next to my kit number. This menu included the options to re-assign my kit and delete my DNA data as well as download the raw data file.
I was again impressed by the comprehensive explanation that was shown when I opted to download the file, including the number of genetic variants that the test covered as well as details and examples of what the raw data would look like. It was made clear that the data would be presented in a table, and complicated headings, such as rsID were explained in a simple and straightforward way.
Once I had read the explanation, I was informed that I would be sent my data by email and had to confirm that I understood that it was now my responsibility to keep it secure. It was reassuring to have the file sent to me rather than being directly downloadable, especially as I had often left myself logged in to the service.
In summary, the MyHeritage DNA test provided an interesting insight into my ancestry. It gave me information about my ethnicity which largely matched the genealogy research I’d done beforehand and I was happy to find quite closely related matches. The explanations that accompanied the results really helped me to get the most I could from the report and I loved the animation that accompanied my ethnicity estimate.
It was slightly frustrating not to be able to find out much about my relatives without signing up for the subscription fee. However, this is partly to be expected from such a new service and I look forward to seeing how this test evolves as time goes on.