Your DNA is a small part of what makes you, you. It plays a role in the way you look and can help determine where in the world your ancestors may have lived.
But as unique as your individual DNA is, it can help reveal more details about your ancestors when viewed with traditional family tree data. Not only could this combined picture mean connecting with living relatives, but it also allows you to see where your family came from in recent more history.
You can now start exploring the history of your DNA in our new AncestryDNA experience, Genetic Communities, now available to new and existing AncestryDNA users.
Existing customers don’t need to take the test again to see their Genetic Communities, but before you jump into the experience and start exploring the history of your family within the UK and Ireland, let’s learn a bit more about how Genetic Communities works and what there is to explore.
What are Genetic Communities?
What do you get when you combine three million AncestryDNA samples with our 80 million family trees? You get a whole lot of new information about your ancestors.
By analysing the DNA connections between individuals and data from family trees, our science team were able to identify groups of people who are connected to each other through their DNA. What we call, Genetic Communities.
Once Genetic Communities are identified, you can start to see where the ancestors of the people with this DNA moved around the world and the migration patterns they followed to get there. Together with Ancestry’s family tree data, we can build out a much wider picture of why these migrations happened, taking into consideration historical impacts of politics, famine, war, and immigration.
Want even more detail on this science? You can learn more about it here.
How is this different to the Ethnicity Estimate?
Good question. Your ethnicity estimate shows where your DNA came from hundreds to thousands of years ago, calculated by comparing your DNA to a reference panel of people with deep roots in each of those regions. Think of this like an older picture of where you are from.
Genetic Communities reveal a much more recent picture. They are groups of AncestryDNA members who are connected because they share fairly recent ancestors who came from the same region or culture, determined by their DNA matches. For many of us, that may mean discovering links to Genetic Communities within the UK and Ireland.
Exploring Genetic Communities in the UK and Ireland
Our science team have identified dozens of Genetic Communities within Britain and Ireland.
These branches include Southern English, Northern English, Scots, English Midlanders, The Welsh & English West Midlanders, Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish and Munster Irish. These branches are then broken down even further into specific Genetic Communities for those regions.
By exploring your Genetic Communities, you can get a view on not only where in the UK or Ireland your family came from, but the social, political or environmental impacts that may have motivated or forced your ancestors and relatives to move around the UK or to other parts of the world. Even if you know this information through your own family history research, it’s amazing to see this confirmed through the genetic migrations visualized in the Genetic Communities feature.
For example, one of my Genetic Communities is Scots. Having built out my family tree, I already know that I have Scottish ancestors on my father’s side (explains the love of whisky and penchant for tartan…) and that they immigrated to Brisbane, Australia in 1885.
By moving through the story of this community, I can read about the many external forces that impacted my ancestors in this area – from the displacement of the Highland Clearances in the early 1800s to the poverty of the Scottish Potato Famine – until we reach the late 1800s and the Australian Gold Rush that inevitably drew my great great grandfather, and many other Scots, down to Queensland, Australia in search of better fortune.
It’s one thing to know this through my family’s own lore and research, but quite another to see it reflected in my Genetic Communities.
Will Genetic Communities change over time?
We like to think of our DNA as fixed and unchangeable, and it is, but the truth is, the more samples we receive, the more data our science team have to explore and the more refined Genetic Communities will become.
As more people take the AncestryDNA test over time, we may be able to uncover more Genetic Communities or refine the Genetic Communities you currently have. You may not currently have any Genetic Communities or your connection level to your communities is low. This might mean connecting you to different Genetic Communities or improving your connection levels in the future.
So what are you waiting for? Head to your AncestryDNA account to start exploring or learn more about your Genetic Communities here.