MyHeritage DNA Releases New & Improved Ethnicity Estimate Reports

By Diane Haddad

MyHeritage DNA today releases its new and improved Ethnicity Estimate reporting, which provides your percentages of origins from 42 ethnic regions around the world—more than what’s available with other tests.

These regions are based in part on MyHeritage’s Founder Populations Project, which analyzed the DNA of 5,000 individuals whose MyHeritage family trees showed ancestry in the same areas for many generations.

Video results
Uniquely, the ethnicity estimate comes with a short, shareable video presentation enhanced by music that’s based on the culture of the ethnicities represented. Here’s an example provided by MyHeritage:

MyHeritage DNA’s new Ethnicity Estimate experience from MyHeritage on Vimeo.

42 world regions
But here’s a more-important unique feature: According to its announcement, MyHeritage DNA estimates tease apart ethnicities that are grouped together in other companies’ DNA tests. The 42 ethnicities include “Balkan, Baltic, Eskimo and Inuit, Japanese, Kenyan, Sierra Leonean, Somali, four major Jewish groups (Ethiopian, Yemenite, Sephardic from North Africa and Mizrahi from Iran and Iraq), Indigenous Amazonian, Papuan and many others.”

MyHeritage, headquartered in Israel, is known for its international member base. It’ll be interesting to see how my report looks: My Ancestry DNA test reported me at 28 percent Italy/Greece and 4 percent Middle Eastern. I have no known ancestry in Italy or Greece, but my great-grandparents were Lebanese.

Free for those who’ve uploaded results
The Ethnicity Estimate is free to users who have already uploaded their DNA data to MyHeritage from other services, or who upload it in the coming months. (This offer helps MyHeritage build its DNA results database, important when more-established competitors at Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe already have large databases.)

Another benefit of uploading is free DNA matching to others in the MyHeritage DNA database. Note that different companies test different locations on the autosomal DNA, and they “impute” (or estimate) the DNA values for locations that don’t overlap with another company’s test. MyHeritage takes the imputed values into account when making matches, so your match list will look different here than it does at the service where you tested.

MyHeritage Chief Science Officer Yaniv Erlich called the ethnicity reporting “an appetizer.” “There are excellent installments on the way, and users can prepare for a feast! We have detailed plans to increase accuracy, extend our Founder Populations project further, and improve the resolution for ethnicities of great interest to our users from highly diverse origins.”