AncestryDNA uses two different approaches to figure out the regions in your DNA Story. In one we compare your DNA to the DNA from people in a reference panel. (The second uses Genetic Communities. Read more about Genetic Communities.)
Using a Reference Panel
A reference panel is made up of people with a long family history in one place or as part of one group. To make it into the AncestryDNA reference panel, these folks need two things. First, they need a paper trail that proves their family history. Then, they must have their ethnicity confirmed at the DNA level. It is not easy to make it into the panel!
To tell your DNA story, we compare your DNA to the people in the reference panel and look for DNA you share. If some of your DNA is similar to the DNA of folks from Cameroon, for example, we assign that part of your DNA to our Cameroon region. And so on until we have looked at your whole DNA sample.
On your results list, regions based on the reference panel have a solid-circle icon that looks like this:
Building a Reference Panel
The current AncestryDNA reference panel has 16,638 DNA samples that divide the world into 43 overlapping regions and groups.
Our samples came from these sources (approximate numbers):• 500 from Human Genome Diversity Project (HGDP) samples • 800 from One Thousand Genome Project samples • 4,400 from AncestryDNA proprietary samples • 10,800 from AncestryDNA customers
The first two of these are public sources. The third set was collected by the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation, and the final set comes from Ancestry customers. If two people were closely related, we removed one of the two samples. We also removed people who were not the ethnicity claimed or did not meet other criteria. We used the samples that made it through these tests to create our final reference panel.
Here is the breakdown of how many individuals are in each of the 43 regions:
|Region||Number of Samples|
|Africa South-Central Hunter-Gatherers||34|
|Benin & Togo||224|
|Cameroon, Congo, & Southern Bantu Peoples||579|
|Ivory Coast & Ghana||124|
|Native American—North, Central, South||146|
|Central & Northern Asia||186|
|Southeast Asia–Dai (Thai)||80|
|Western & Central India||65|
|Korea & Northern China||261|
|England, Wales & Northwestern Europe||1,519|
|Ireland & Scotland||500|
|Greece & the Balkans||242|
|Eastern Europe & Russia||1,959|
|Iran / Persia||459|
|Turkey & the Caucasus||101|
Still curious to understand more? Cool--we're glad you're as interested in genetics as we are. Check out our white paper on ethnicity prediction.