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MyHeritage has released an update to their DNA matching system which has improved the number and accuracy of matches, and added a much requested chromosome browser. Both updates are available immediately to anyone who currently has results in the MyHeritage DNA system, or who uploads their DNA to MyHeritage for free.
MyHeritage has long provided a unique integration of DNA data with family tree results, offering an intuitive system for beginner and advanced researchers who want to combine genealogical and genetic research.
We love that MyHeritage is still allowing people who have tested elsewhere to take advantage of their tools at no cost. Results for all participants also include the recently improved 42 population ethnicity report. Of course, if you haven’t tested yet you can also get a kit here.
With this update, MyHeritage claims that they have greatly increased the accuracy of matches as well as the accuracy of shared DNA percentages between individuals, all while decreasing the likelihood of false positives.
The rapid increase in their database size – to more than 1 million – and a lower match threshold of 8cM (vs 12) means that users will definitely see more matches when they log in, as much as a 10x increase according to MyHeritage.
In case you were wondering what a cM is -it is the abbreviation for centimorgan and is a unit for measuring genetic linkage. The number of cMs shared with another person show how much DNA you have in common. To some degree it is the number of shared cMs that can show you how closely related you are to a genetic match – more cMs being an indication of a closer relationship.
But this is not the whole story. Measuring genetic distance is complicated business. When you share DNA with another person this information shows in segments and how long these segments are can also help you determine how closely related you are to someone. Longer segments can mean a more recent connection with a common ancestor.
Examining these numbers, total shared cMs and the number and length of your shared segments, can tell you a lot about how closely related you may be to someone in your match list.
Because MyHeritage has lowered the required shared cMs to 8 it means that they are able to show you more distant matches. This new lower threshold is applied to the total cMs shared, not to the longest segment.
While it is certainly exciting to see so many additional matches, those matches with lower shared cMs are much more likely to be inaccurate – or so distantly related to you that they are nearly impossible to track genealogically.
Still, MyHeritage is allowing users access to this additional information so they can make what they want of these more distant connections. Our own numbers, which were less than 100 matches per testing subject mid last year, have now jumped to more than 2000 per individual. It will take some time to determine how many of the more recent matches are accurate or useful and if false positives have, in fact, been reduced.
This large jump in matches, especially distant ones, is why it is so important that MyHeritage has also released a chromosome browser at the same time – something AncestryDNA is still lacking. A chromosome browser allows you to see which segment(s) of DNA you share with another person on individual chromosomes.
Knowing which segments you share, and being able to compare these segments with other matches, is critical to determining what family lines your matches may be from. Groups of matches with common segments often share an ancestor and this can help you track down your connection and build your tree. MyHeritage provides a list of common matches on each person you view to help with this task.
Although MyHeritage’s chromosome browser is not as advanced as the one you will find at Family Tree DNA, it is certainly a welcome addition – and they have promised to continue to improve this new feature.
The chromosome browser paired with the ability to:
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- see how you connect with a match’s family tree
- see what surnames you have in common
- review shared matches with other individuals
- and see what ethnicities you share
– all in one simple screen – make this one of the most intuitive and fun systems for genetic genealogy research available.
Here is a look at the new chromosome browser from MyHeritage:
It does appear, however, that the browser is not available on at least some mobile devices right now.
If you haven’t already, take advantage of the free offer from MyHeritage to upload your DNA and get your 42 population ethnicity estimate and access to their matching system for free.
We have also written an entire walk-through of the MyHeritage DNA system if you want a preview of what to expect. The article provides complete instructions for how to upload your DNA to their site and how to use their ethnicity and matching system.
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