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Understanding ethnicity

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  • Understanding ethnicity

    I submitted DNA samples for my parents, sister and myself to MyHeritage. The results show that I am a 49.7% match to my father and 49.8% match to my mother. My mother is mostly NW Europe/Scandinavian and my fathers DNA is heavier on North and West Europe as well as Eastern Europe. My results show a higher percentage of some ethnicities as if it is a combined total from both and some ethnicities are substantially less than my parents combined. My confusion is that neither parent tested with any Ashkenazi Jewish at all yet my test indicates that I am 1.7%? My sister has also tested and shows the same percentage match to each of my parents and also has 0% AJ. Is this easily explainable or could my test results have been compromised? Thank you for any insight that you can offer.

  • #2
    It is most likely noise - anything less than 2% can be a mistakenly attributed ethnicity; in other words, the 1.7% portion seems similar to Ashkenazi Jewish, but instead is actually of another ethnicity that it resembles. Since neither your parents nor your sister show any Ashenazi Jewish in their results at the same company, it is probably not worth obsessing over. Try reading Roberta Estes' article, "Concepts - Calculating Ethnicity Percentages" - scroll down to the section "What's the Point?"

    You could also get a "second opinion," as MyHeritage is not known for being as accurate as others for their ethnicity estimates. Try uploading your file from MyHeritage to GEDmatch, and use the calculators there, to see if this 1.7% Ashkenazi Jewish still appears.

    The 1.7% your estimate showed is about the amount that you might inherit from a 4th great-grandparent. If you have traced your ancestors back that far, you should be able to either eliminate the AJ ethnicity, or confirm it.


    • #3
      Thank you! That is a perfect explanation! I have uploaded the results to Gedmatch but have never tried to used their calculators. I will learn how they work and see if it will confirm my results. Thank you very much for your response! Have a Very Happy and Healthy New Year!


      • #4
        Thank you, and the same to you. Let us know what you find out.


        • #5
          Hi, KATM; I have tried a couple of Admixture programs at GedMatch and wasn’t confident in the results. I ran several but assume that MDLP K16 Modern and MDLP World-22 should be the most appropriate for my ethnicity. If they have a category for AJ they didn’t identify any. I admit it is all a little confusing to me. My kit is H213192. Is there another way to confirm AJ or lack of it? Thank you again for taking the time to help me with this?


          • #6
            There is a Google spreadsheet which keeps up a list for GEDmatch Admixture Populations.
            At the top, there is a menu from which you can choose the following pages of the spreadsheet:Under "Populations Lists," there is the Eurogenes JTest, and under "Jewish Populations in Oracle," many of the admixture choices will show quite a variety of Jewish populations. At the top of the Jewish Populations page, it gives lists of the admixture calculators that do not include Oracle, and also which calculators do not contain any Jewish populations.

            A good page about using the Admixture tools at GEDmatch is Finally! A Gedmatch Admixture Guide!