Know Your Genome at DNA Land

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DNA Land is a relatively new kid on the genome block who wants your DNA for scientific research and in exchange, they offer to to help you to learn more about your DNA. According to their website, DNA Land is a non-profit run by academics affiliated with Columbia University and the NY Genome Center. 

DNA.Land is in partnership with the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) to better understand the genetic risks of breast cancer. NBCC has focused on gaining access to quality, evidence-based care for all, increasing the influence of breast cancer patients and activists in the decision making that impacts all issues surrounding breast cancer, and on research to end breast cancer.

DNA Land supports DNA tested by 23andMe, Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.com. In order to compare the data sets from these three companies who all test for different genetic markers, DNA Land uses a method called imputation to ‘infer the identities of gene variants that were not originally tested, filling in gaps on the basis of knowledge about specific markers that are often inherited together.’

In order to participate, just sign up on their website, DNA.land and follow their simple step-by-step instructions to download your data from one of these three sites and upload that file to their website. If you have your family tree on Geni.com, you can connect that to your profile, something I haven’t been able to test. I’m hoping that they might partner with other online tree services in the future or support a GEDCOM upload instead.

As part of the sign up process, you have to give your consent to share your data with the DNA Land researchers and you are asked for your birth date and the names and birth dates of your parents.

What’s In It For Me?

The DNA Land project has been featured in the media online via The Atlantic, nature and genomeweb when they launched in October of 2015. As more people participate in the study, more genomes will be uploaded, increasing the chances of a finding a match. Since DNA Land is a relatively new site, the user features are still being developed but according to their website, they currently offer the following three advantages to genealogists.

ANCESTRY

We will compare your DNA with reference data from different populations to see where in the world your ancestors might have lived

IMPUTATION

Fill in the gaps: convert your genome into a more complete sequence. DNA is inherited in chunks, which allows us to infer sites that occur on the same chunk even though they have not actually been sequenced

RELATIVES

Connect with distant relatives who share stretches of DNA and fill in some branches on your family tree

My Results

I uploaded my data from Family Tree DNA to the DNA Land website three days ago. This morning I had the chance to go back and see what the results were so far.

Ancestry Composition

Nothing too surprising in my Ancestry Composition report. It is pretty consistent with my FTDNA results and my Ancestry DNA results.

Ancestry Composition at DNA Land

DNA High Certainty Relationship Matches

I’m related to my cousin who has also uploaded her DNA. No surprise there. So far that is my only match. We share 74 segments, with a total shared length of 862.12 cm and a total recent shared length of 708.76 cm and our longest recent shared segment is 58.06 cm. There is a relationship likelihood chart and the usual chart showing which segments exactly we match on. There is a great explanation of each of these results available.

Relatives of Relatives by DNA Matches

The final report available shows relatives of relatives, to show who might be related to me too distantly to be discovered by shared segments directly and is still in the experimental stage. In this report, I see three of my cousin’s matches although I’m finding the results confusing. It would almost appear from the report that I am related genetically to my cousin’s mother, which I am not since she is only my aunt by marriage.

  • Ease of Uploading 90 %
  • Reports 70 %
  • Good Cause 100 %
  • Potential 75 %
Summary

So far, DNA Land has 18,447 genomes loaded and it has increased by 3 genomes since I began this article so it is certainly growing! Because I've only tested with FTDNA and Ancestry, this allows me to compare my DNA to any 23andMe users who upload their data which can increase the likelihood of a match. Signing up is easy and their step-by-step tutorial makes it easy to upload your data. The available reports are not ground-breaking but they are still working on them so there may be more detail in future. In my opinion, it is definitely worth a try to further the DNA pool I'm testing against and I'm happy if my data can help researchers with discovering new cures and treatments for diseases like breast cancer.

84% Worth Trying

Barbara J Starmans is a social historian, freelance writer and obsessed genealogist living in Richmond Hill, Ontario, Canada and has been doing genealogical research for the past 35 years. She is a graduate of the National Institute for Genealogical Studies in Toronto, Canada with professional learning certificates in General Methodology and in English Records and recently become an instructor for them with an intermediate course on Social History.

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