Ancestry Testing Reviews for DNA Land

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At a Glance

Editor's Rating:
4 out of 5 stars
Customer Service:
4 out of 5 stars
Clarity of Results:
4 out of 5 stars
References Cited:
2.5 out of 5 stars
Value for Money:
5 out of 5 stars

Summary

DNA Land provides a simplistic breakdown of your ethnicity and in comparison to the other tests I’ve taken, the results can definitely be improved on. I suspect this will happen as more people try out the service.

The trait prediction report was intriguing even though it didn’t quite sync up with my personal experience, and I was disappointed to find that I only had two connections using the relative finder, which is far fewer than other services tend to find for me (normally dozens).

DNA Land is a great tool and most of the reports are very well explained, but I recommend the results be viewed in conjunction with results from other tests so you can identify obvious patterns. Once DNA Land reach a ‘critical mass’ of users in their database and are able to fine tune their reports, this will be a powerful tool for exploring your genetic ancestry.

Full Review

DNA Land enables you to find out more about your DNA and at the same time contribute to scientific research. It’s a non-profit organisation and is run in partnership with the New York genome centre and Colombia University. Recently they have affiliated with the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC – US Based) in the hopes of better understanding the genetic risks of breast cancer.

DNA Land are transparent about their mission and what they want to achieve, and although they’re a new company, they have lots of ideas for updates to their service in the future.

Product Expectations

I was quite excited to upload my data to DNA Land as I’d seen many people praising it on various forums and Facebook groups – the fact that its free is also a big bonus!

I learned that there’d be a ‘Find Relatives’ section which lists other DNA Land users and the extent to which they’re related to you. I’d see the number of DNA segments I shared with individuals, the total shared length of those segments, the total shared recent length and the longest recent shared segment. Graphics would illustrate how my segments are matched to others’ with the likelihood that I’m closely related to them.

There’d also be a ‘Find relatives of relatives’ section which does exactly what you’d expect (I hoped this could lead to some breakthroughs in my family tree research) and that there’d be an ‘Ancestry report’ which would give me my ethic breakdown (I hoped this would help me confirm my Eastern European/Balkan ancestry).

Finally, I learned that there’d be a ‘Trait predictor’ section, divided into wellness traits and physical traits.

From looking at the example results on the DNA Land site, I liked how the information would be laid out. I also found the site to be very user-friendly which is important when the subject matter can be complicated!

Online Registration

Once I’d input my email and password as part of the registration process, the DNA Land site went through several aspects of the service: The upload procedure, how confidentiality was handled, the code of conduct, the risks of analysing DNA (as well as the potential benefits) and consent. I learned that consenting to use the DNA Land service also meant that they could contact me as part of their educational study.

I was then taken to the data upload section and was given the option to upload data from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or Family Tree DNA. Unfortunately, if your data is not from one of these companies you’ll not be able to use the service. Once I’d selected the file to upload, I was asked to add some basic information about myself and my parents, and given the option to participate in an additional breast cancer study which I agreed to.

The DNA Land site proceeded to tell me that my file was being processed and that this would be complete within 24 hours.

The Results

Once my results were processed I was invited to explore four main sections: ‘Find relatives’, ‘Find relatives of relatives’, the ‘Ancestry Report’ and the ‘Trait Predictor’.

Results Section: Find Relatives

In this section DNA Land listed the people whom I share a genetic connection with. I should point out that my father has also uploaded his results to DNA Land, so it was reassuring to see that he was my top genetic connection! For each connection I was given a name and email address, and a number of metrics to show the degree to which we were related. For my father, two of these metrics (‘Relationship Likelihood’ and ‘Long Shared Segments’) are shown below:

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The Relationship Likelihood and Long Shared Segments for my father and I.

The Relationship Likelihood and Long Shared Segments for my father and I.

As you can see from the Relationship Likelihood graph, it’s highly likely that I’m closely related to my father (phew!), whilst the ‘Normalised Likelihood’ and ‘Relationship Degree’ were significantly less for my other matches. The Long Shared Segments chart showed that most of the genetic material my father and I share across 22 pairs of chromosomes is ‘recent’, but I was left wondering how much recent DNA I’d inherited from my mother... At a glance, it looked like I’d received most of my DNA from my father but I know that we receive approximately 50% from each parent. A more realistic explanation is that my mother and father are from similar genetic backgrounds, and so DNA Tribes is showing that my mother and father share a great deal of recent genetic material too.

Another of the metrics that was provided alongside each connection was the type of relationship we were likely to have (e.g. uncle), which was helpful for working out which matches I should focus on first. The other metrics were: The number of shared sections, the total shared length, the total recent shared length, and the longest recent shared length. These were interesting but I found the Relationship Likelihood graph much more meaningful.

Having only a few matches (in addition to my father), I was curious to find out how my experience compared to others. A number of Facebook groups indicated that most DNA Land users were shown not to have any matches at all, but I expect this will change as more people use the service.

Results Section: Find relatives of relatives

This section showed me the relatives of my connections (whom had been identified in the Find Relatives section). For each relative, I was given a name and email address, the name and email address of the connection we shared, the relationship degree (e.g. fourth cousin), and a number of metrics associated to the ‘intersecting’ DNA that we shared. One of the most meaningful metrics was ‘Total Intersection Length’ in the form of a chart (shown below for my closest relative of a relative):

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The Total Intersection Length that I share with my closest relative of a relative.

The Total Intersection Length that I share with my closest relative of a relative.

I have to say that even though you could reduce the Total Intersection Length to a number (e.g. 5.1%) I like seeing which chromosomes we ‘intersect’ on. I believe this feature will become more valuable as DNA Land develop it, it would be nice to see the origin of each shared segment which could give clues as to how my relatives of relatives fit in with my overall ancestry. For now, it’s a fun feature but I don’t believe it has any practical uses when it comes to personal ancestry research.

Results Section: Ancestry Report

Next was the section I was most interested in - the ancestry report! When I saw that my report was ready I was very excited, but was a bit disappointed when I first explored it. Other tests I’ve taken have shown that my DNA is associated to dozens of ethnicities, but this showed just four which isn’t very revealing. My ‘Ancestry Composition’ is shown below:

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My Ancestry Composition.

My Ancestry Composition.

Looking at the descriptions of the four groups that were included in my ethnic breakdown (shown below) I have to say I was a bit perplexed by them.

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Descriptions of the four population groups that my DNA is associated to.

Descriptions of the four population groups that my DNA is associated to.

As you can see, the descriptions are quite counter-intuitive - instead of just detailing the populations that each group includes, it details the ones that aren’t included too. If I had a good understanding of each reference population used and how they overlap, I think these lists would have been a bit more meaningful.

Going back to my Ancestry Composition, the most significant result for me was that the proportion of my DNA that’s associated to Balkan populations is a whopping 30%! I was really pleased that my Balkan ancestry had come through, especially as other tests I’ve taken put the proportion of my DNA that’s associated to Balkan populations at 10-20%. However, the other tests I’ve taken reported on my Greek and Balkan ancestry separately, whereas DNA Land consider Greek populations to be part of their Balkan population group.

DNA Land’s Ancestry Report section has already undergone one ethnicity update in its short life, and as more people upload their data I’m sure there will be more improvements. Hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later.

Results Section: Trait Prediction Report

The final results section for DNA Land also happened to be its newest, so much so that when I first logged in it wasn’t included in my results! In order to access this part of the service I was asked to fill in a questionnaire to help DNA Land corroborate their results. I could then see the Trait Prediction Report shown below:

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My Trait Prediction Report.

My Trait Prediction Report.

As you can see, DNA Land predicted that I drink less coffee than the average person which is spot on as I don’t drink any! They also correctly predicted that I’m slightly near-sighted. Unfortunately, the other forecasts weren’t as accurate: I have a university degree so my predicted educational attainment falls short, my eyes are hazel not brown (this may not seem like an important distinction but I assure you that there’s a difference!), and I’m significantly shorter than my peers.

I should also point out that the explanations accompanying these results were a bit more scientific than for the other DNA Land sections, so I had trouble understanding them. That said, I like that DNA Land are trying to branch out and are calibrating new features. As with many of these reports, I’m sure they’ll improve as more people upload their data to the site.

Summary

DNA Land provides a simplistic breakdown of your ethnicity and in comparison to the other tests I’ve taken, the results can definitely be improved on. I suspect this will happen as more people try out the service.

The trait prediction report was intriguing even though it didn’t quite sync up with my personal experience, and I was disappointed to find that I only had two connections using the relative finder, which is far fewer than other services tend to find for me (normally dozens).

DNA Land is a great tool and most of the reports are very well explained, but I recommend the results be viewed in conjunction with results from other tests so you can identify obvious patterns. Once DNA Land reach a ‘critical mass’ of users in their database and are able to fine tune their reports, this will be a powerful tool for exploring your genetic ancestry.

See a description of this DNA test from DNA Land >