Ancestry Testing Reviews for DNA Tribes

DNA Tribes
From £19.79 Converted from $24.99

At a Glance

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

Summary

Overall, DNA Tribes gives you value for money. The analyses are very in-depth and each graphic is clearly explained and introduced beforehand so you know what you are looking at. DNA Tribes also had a very quick turnaround time of around 24 hours if you can upload the raw data you’ve received from a previous test. This was brilliant as patience is not a virtue of mine when I am waiting for results!

Where I feel DNA Tribes falls short is explaining how you compare to your own average nationality. I had some interesting populations show up in mine (e.g. tribes in South America) but because DNA Tribes didn’t provide a British sample report, I had to email customer services for this so that I could make a comparison. I found that they didn’t put much time into helping me with my query, and this is where I felt they let themselves down a bit.

I also felt like some of the graphs and tables needed re-reading a few times to get an understanding of them, which can be a bit frustrating when you’re excited about reading the report, but that may just be me.

If you have the money and you’re looking for a genetic ancestry analysis that provides engaging materials to print out, then this is great. However, be warned that you may end up a bit confused by your results, and a bit let down by their customer service team if you need them.

Full Review

DNA Tribes has been around since 2006, you have the option to do their own autosomal DNA test, which is an easy cheek swab, or if you have already had your DNA tested by another company, you can send them your raw data and they will create a report.

Their test includes over 1,200 ethnic groups in 32 regions, they update their algorithms frequently, the last update was in June of this year. They’ll provide a report of around 30 pages, with in-depth tables and graphics which we will go into below.

Product Expectations

DNA Tribes promises to report on your “deep ancestry” according to your autosomal DNA (if you purchase the test from them) or the raw data you’ve acquired from one of the main testing companies such as AncestryDNA, 23andme or Family Tree DNA (FTDNA).

They state that the 30-page report you’ll receive covers five continents, and 44 ‘world ancestry clusters’ (a term that DNA Tribes claims is unique to them). They also provide a ‘genome grid’ showing the geographic hotspots of your ethnicity, and if you still weren’t sure what to expect, they have several example reports that you can look through before you commit to purchasing – this is quite interesting to use as a comparison later on.

The DNA Tribes service sounded pretty in-depth which is great for me as once I’m interested in something I like to dive right in!

Online Registration

If you need to purchase a test so that DNA Tribes can analyse your autosomal DNA, you’ll have to register online. This creates the account that you’ll later log in to for your results.

If you already have raw data that can be analysed, you’ll need to use the ‘DNA Tribes SNP’ site which doesn’t require online registration. In this case, you’ll be emailed your report.

Think of ‘DNA Tribes’ and ‘DNA Tribes SNP’ as two different sites and you can’t go too far wrong!

When it came to agreeing to DNA Tribes’ Terms and Conditions, I’d say they’re pretty simple and straightforward, there’s nothing untoward in them. They point out that DNA testing is purely for recreational purposes and not for medical purposes, that the results are delivered via email, and that there’s no guaranteed turnaround time.

The main two points I think are worth noting is that once they have delivered your results, the fee is non-refundable and that their customer support is only available over email. If either of those are a sticking point for you, it may be wise to avoid!

Ordering Experience

I had already taken an autosomal test with AncestryDNA so I used the ‘DNA Tribes SNP’ site where they run existing raw data through their algorithm.

The ordering process isn’t the most straightforward, there are lots of options to choose from. If it’s your first time using DNA Tribes, you’ll want to pay the full price (you can get a $10 discount if you also provide your grandparents’ info when you send off your sample). However, if you’ve previously sent them your raw data and you want an updated report (they update their algorithm every so often), a reduced ‘Update’ option is also available.

After choosing an option, the site explains the step by step process of getting your report.

The length of time it takes to get your results back can vary, but mine took less than 24 hours.

The Results

There were lots of graphics and tables in the results that made it easy for me to get a feel for my ancestry. The main sections were: ‘Continental Cores’, ‘Native and Jewish Populations’, ‘Your Divergence Scores for Iterative Mixture Results’, ‘World Genetic Grid’ and ‘Total Ancestral Fit’.

Results Section: Continental Cores

The first graphic you look at is very straightforward. DNA Tribes has divided the world up into eight continental cores, and this graphic breaks down how you are divided between these cores, shown below:

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My Continental Core Mixture.

My Continental Core Mixture.

Alongside the graphic I was shown that 99.3% of my DNA is European, and 0.7% is Amerindian. This 0.7% result was a surprise, and it’s worth noting that your core mixture isn’t restricted to two combinations. I have seen others who have six or seven listed, but most people have two or three.

The next chart (shown below) still focussed on these eight continental cores, but in a bit more depth – it was titled ‘Multi-Dimensional Scaling: 8 Continental Cores’. This is what I’d call a ‘spot plot’; they cluster the regions according to the genetic similarity of the populations in those regions, and plot you where you’re most likely to fit.

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My Multi-Dimensional Scaling: 8 Continental Cores chart.

My Multi-Dimensional Scaling: 8 Continental Cores chart.

This chart allows you to see the relationship between the core continents, and I felt this made it easier for me to understand my ethnic makeup in relation to location. So, I am very much European, but it looks like I’m quite close to North African and Middle Eastern here, and the 0.7% Amerindian is nowhere to be seen!

I was then shown another graphic, similar to the ‘Continental Core Mixture’ graphic but this time broken down into 53 smaller regions. Alongside I was provided with a ‘Regional Cluster Table’ (shown below).

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My Regional Cluster Table.

My Regional Cluster Table.

Of all the tables and graphics included in the report, this is the one that I go back to the most as it shows me my ethnic breakdown at a glance.

DNA Tribes seems to have some very specific populations in their arsenal, which we will touch upon later, but as you can see from the table above, it’s very comprehensive. For me, there weren’t that many shocks, apart from being 1.3% Andean.

I was then shown a spot plot titled 'Multi-Dimensional Scaling: 53 Regional Clusters' (not shown here) which I think was more useful because it's a lot more specific as to where you fit in. It showed me that I resemble someone of Balkan ancestry rather than Northwest European. I have actually compared my result with someone else’s and they also associate heavily with Balto-North Slavic populations, which is more than I’d expect of someone who is British.

Results Section: Native and Jewish Populations

I was then shown a table that detailed the populations that have contributed to my genome from Native and Jewish populations around the world (not shown here). Here I could see some of the specific populations that DNA Tribes has in their arsenal. It was interesting to see that I was 1.3% Wichi, which a quick Google search revealed is an indigenous tribe of South America.

Overall, this table tied in with the regional cluster and multi-dimensional scaling graphics that supported the Balkan conclusion that I drew earlier.

Another table titled 'Iterative Population Admixture: Native and Jewish Populations' (not shown here) cross-referenced the native and Jewish populations that DNA Tribes has in their database with my ethnic mix for eight iterations. I have to admit, this took me a while to get my head around and it was difficult to draw any meaning from this table.

Results Section: Your Divergence Scores for Iterative Mixture Results

This section has nothing to do with a Veronica Roth novel, but after trying to make sense of it, it did tell me how close DNA Tribes thinks a particular iteration (from the previous section) is the closest representation of my ethnic mix. It appeared that the first iteration was the closest for me: 16% Danish, 15% Serbian, 29% Slovenian.

Another spot plot titled 'Multi-Dimensional Scaling: Native and Jewish Populations' (not shown here) then plotted my genetic breakdown against the populations listed in iterations one to eight for my iterative admixture result. Strangely, this showed my breakdown was more closely associate to Serbian, Slovenian and Czech populations than to Serbian, Slovenian and Danish populations.

It really took me a while to figure out what these particular graphics were trying to tell me and even now, I’m still not sure!

Results Section: World Genetic Grid

This grid (shown below) shows the location of your ancestors based on the DNA Tribes population database. The areas in red are the areas of closest fit to your ethnicity, and blue means no match at all.

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My World Genetic Grid.

My World Genetic Grid.

As you can see from this grid, I am very much in Balkan territory again.

Results Section: Total Ancestral Fit

This section of the report was made up of nine different tables, a table for: European, Caucasus Mountain, Middle Eastern, African, East Asian, Oceanian and South Malay, North Asian, and South Asian and Native American. These tables show how closely you resemble populations across the globe.

The coloured labels represent how closely you fit that population, the lower the number and redder the colour, the closer you are. Here is one of the nine tables which represents my European ancestral fit:

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My European ancestral fit.

My European ancestral fit.

This section also contained a chart titled 'Total Ancestral Fit: Diasporic Populations' (not shown here) which I found to be very interesting - it tells you the similarity of your genome to populations that have migrated to new locations, covering both historical and recent migrations.

Like the previous charts, the lower the number and redder the colour in the label, the closer you are to those populations.

What stood out for me on this chart was that my DNA is most closely associated to the following migratory populations: Caucasians, European Americans and Canary Islanders.

Summary

Overall, DNA Tribes gives you value for money. The analyses are very in-depth and each graphic is clearly explained and introduced beforehand so you know what you are looking at. DNA Tribes also had a very quick turnaround time of around 24 hours if you can upload the raw data you’ve received from a previous test. This was brilliant as patience is not a virtue of mine when I am waiting for results!

Where I feel DNA Tribes falls short is explaining how you compare to your own average nationality. I had some interesting populations show up in mine (e.g. tribes in South America) but because DNA Tribes didn’t provide a British sample report, I had to email customer services for this so that I could make a comparison. I found that they didn’t put much time into helping me with my query, and this is where I felt they let themselves down a bit.

I also felt like some of the graphs and tables needed re-reading a few times to get an understanding of them, which can be a bit frustrating when you’re excited about reading the report, but that may just be me.

If you have the money and you’re looking for a genetic ancestry analysis that provides engaging materials to print out, then this is great. However, be warned that you may end up a bit confused by your results, and a bit let down by their customer service team if you need them.