|Frequently Asked Questions About DNA Tribes® STR Genetic Ancestry Analysis
Updated July 1, 2013. For DNA Tribes® SNP analysis, click here.
Q: What is DNA Tribes Genetic Ancestry Analysis?
A: DNA Tribes Genetic Ancestry Analysis tests autosomal DNA inherited from both your maternal and paternal
ancestors. Since 2006, DNA Tribes has performed the most comprehensive analysis of world genetic structure.
Our ongoing research explores the genetic links between cultures around the world, challenging old ideas about
ancestry and identity.
Your DNA Tribes test results locate the world populations and regions where your unique DNA profile is shared,
including a detailed comparison to African, Asian-Pacific, European, Middle Eastern, Native American, and South
Asian populations. For more information about our global database over 1,200 populations from around the world,
Your DNA matches can include locations associated with recent family genealogy. However, the genetic history of
world populations began long before genealogical records. For this reason, DNA matches can also express
genetic traces of more ancient links between world populations through shared origins, migrations, and trade.
These ancient genetic links are explored in our monthly Digest articles, available here.
Q: How will my results look?
A: Results are delivered by email in a printable PDF Genetic Ancestry Report. Sample reports with comments can
be viewed here.
Q: How does DNA Tribes stands out from other services?
Q: How do I get my DNA Tribes analysis? How long does it take?
A: Learning about your genetic ancestry with DNA Tribes is easy and painless. Once you order your DNA Tribes
analysis online, we will send you a cheek swab kit with easy to follow instructions. You'll simply scrub the inside of
your cheek with the swabs, seal your samples and then mail them in the prepaid** return envelope to our partner
lab. Once we receive your sample, you will receive your results in approximately 2 - 3 weeks* by email in a printer-
ready PDF file.
* In most cases, results are delivered within 9-10 working days of when DNA samples are received. However, in
some cases, results can take longer if additional processing or cheek swab re-collection (performed at no
additional charge) is needed.
** Prepaid return envelopes are included for kits shipped within the U.S. only. For kits shipped outside the U.S., an
unpaid return envelope is included for return shipping according to local postal rates.
Q: How does DNA Tribes pricing compare to the cost of other DNA tests?
A: DNA Tribes provides the most informative and comprehensive genetic ancestry analysis available at an
affordable price. For a price comparison, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy hosts an Ethnic Origins
DNA Testing Company Comparison at http://www.isogg.org/eochart.htm.
Note: The price comparison chart linked above is maintained by a third-party organization not affiliated with DNA
Tribes and might not include our current test information and pricing. For up to date DNA Tribes test information
and prices including our current discounts and promotions, click here.
Q: How does DNA Tribes STR testing compare to autosomal tests that use hundreds of thousands of SNP
A: The primary benefit of STR rather than SNP testing is the availability of reference data. DNA Tribes tests industry
standard autosomal STR systems, which allow the identification of a person's DNA profile not shared with any
other person. Because these STRs have been tested for use in court systems around the world, they allow DNA
Tribes to perform the most thorough comparison of a person's own DNA profile to over 1,200 ethnic groups around
the world. At present, SNP testing does not yet match the geographical detail of DNA Tribes autosomal STR
Q: How many world populations are included in DNA Tribes analysis?
A: DNA Tribes tests include a comprehensive comparison of your unique autosomal STR profile to over 1,200
populations sampled from around the world. This includes native populations on all inhabited continents, as well
as modern mixed communities living around the world. More information about the ethnic groups in our world
database is available at http://www.dnatribes.com/populations.html
Q: Are DNA Tribes customer ratings and reviews available?
A: Yes. At DNA Tribes, our goal is to provide superior genetic analysis that is informative and enjoyable for our
customers. To help us continually improve the quality of our service, DNA Tribes routinely invites our customers to
submit their ratings and reviews of their testing experiences. Of customers who responded to our survey between
January 2006 and September 2012, over 95% gave a positive rating of their experience with DNA Tribes.
DNA matches can cross perceived ethnic boundaries and express unexpected genetic links between world
populations. To get the most of your analysis, we recommend contacting us at firstname.lastname@example.org with any
questions about your testing. We are happy to provide follow up assistance in translating technical results into plain
English terms to help you in your personal genetic ancestry research.
To read customer reviews of their DNA Tribes experiences, click here.
Q: Is DNA Tribes for only males or females?
A: Both males and females can use DNA Tribes Genetic Ancestry Analysis. Our test uses autosomal genetic
material inherited both the mother and father (50% from each parent), providing a unique "genetic portrait" that you
can pass on to your children and grandchildren as a record of their family heritage.
Q: How does DNA Tribes autosomal analysis relate to other forms of genetic analysis, such as Y
chromosome, mtDNA or admixture tests?
A: DNA Tribes unique autosomal analysis complements other types of genetic tests, by using DNA passed down
equally from male and female ancestors. The autosomal STRs tested by DNA Tribes are passed down from both
male and female and both lineal and non-lineal ancestors. Each person inherits a unique combination of these
autosomal STRs. DNA Tribes identifies the individual ethnic groups and world regions where a person's total
combination of ancestry is most frequent or common.
DNA Tribes analysis can complement Y chromosome or mtDNA information by providing information about genetic
connections passed down from a sampling of both lineal non-lineal ancestors, providing a more well-rounded and
inclusive picture of a person's overall ancestry. DNA Tribes analysis can complement admixture testing by
identifying connections to individual ethnic groups and regions, providing a more detailed view of ancestry based
on both native populations and modern mixed communities around the world.
Q: What is the scientific basis for DNA Tribes statistical analysis?
A: DNA Tribes® is a private firm specializing in genetic ancestry analysis, including both geographical analysis of
world populations and the comparison of individuals to living populations and world regions. DNA Tribes’
proprietary analysis has been developed by Dr. Eduardas Valaitis, who received his Doctorate in Statistics from
Yale University in 2005. Dr. Valaitis has been an Assistant Professor in the Department of Mathematics and
Statistics at American University in Washington, D.C. Dr. Valaitis’ background includes extensive work in
multivariate analysis and classification, which involves identifying mathematical structure present within large and
This expertise allows DNA Tribes to perform a uniquely detailed and comprehensive analysis of world populations
to identify genetic structure on an objective mathematical basis. DNA Tribes analysis allows the genetic
relationships linking populations (often crossing perceived ethnic boundaries) to be expressed based on a
thorough and detailed geographical database. All data used in our analysis come from peer-reviewed scientific
studies of world populations.
Q: Is DNA Tribes proprietary method of analysis available elsewhere?
No. Some forensic calculators use the CODIS STR markers used for DNA Tribes genetic ancestry analysis.
However, these calculators use forensic match calculations that are inappropriate for genetic ancestry analysis.
DNA Tribes analysis is based on a unique genetic ancestry analysis developed by Dr. Eduardas Valaitis (Ph.D. in
Statistics, Yale University 2005). DNA Tribes patented genetic ancestry analysis is available exclusively through
DNA Tribes. U.S. PAT. NO. 8,285,486.
Q: What genetic markers are used for DNA Tribes analysis?
A: DNA Tribes uses a type of autosomal STR genetic markers developed by the FBI for individual identification.
Using this system, each person’s DNA profile serves as a genetic fingerprint for that individual, with typically less
than one in a trillion chance of sharing an identical profile with anyone in the world. Because each autosomal STR
profile is so unique to each person, these genetic markers are also the industry standard for court-admissible
paternity and maternity testing. DNA Tribes uses this highly unique autosomal STR genetic profile to measure a
person’s genetic connections to populations and major regions around the world.
Further information about the DNA markers used for DNA Tribes analysis can be found at:
Q: Is the set of autosomal STR markers markers used in DNA Tribes analysis sufficient to provide a robust
and detailed genetic ancestry analysis?
Yes. Genetic ancestry analysis requires many data points, consisting of both informative DNA markers and robust
population reference data. DNA Tribes analysis uses a powerful set of industry standard DNA markers relied on by
police agencies and courts of law for their strong intra-populational variability. For this reason, each person's lab
results include a unique STR profile that no other person will share.
DNA Tribes compares each person's unique set of highly informative DNA markers to our database representing
hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. This enables us to not only basic continental groups, but to "zoom in"
further and perform the most detailed structural analysis of world populations available to identify individual genetic
regions sharing unique genetic patterns. DNA Tribes customers receive the most comprehensive and detailed
genetic ancestry analysis currently available based on our STR database of more than 1,000 world populations.
DNA Tribes 22 and 26 Marker Test results include a comprehensive comparison that identifies all world regions
where your STR profile is shared, as well as how well your STR profile fits among members of each of these
New but more expensive technologies have allowed testing thousands of SNPs or other markers. However, these
analyses are currently limited by the smaller amount of global DNA reference data. Because of this lack of data, the
global structure of genetic clusters inferred using these SNP markers remains incompletely documented.
In contrast, DNA Tribes analysis is uses a suite of powerful industry standard markers to provide a detailed and
statistically rigorous comparison to hundreds of actual ethnic groups in all parts of the world and regional genetic
structure identified and tested by Dr. Eduardas Valaitis. Our survey of world populations provides detailed analysis
of world genetic structure distinguished using these STR markers: http://dnatribes.com/sample-results/dnatribes-
Q: How does DNA Tribes testing differ from SNP based searches for distant family relatives?
A: DNA Tribes is a "deep ancestry" test that includes a comprehensive comparison of your STR profile to
populations around the world. Other more limited tests (such as autosomal IBD searches) only locate distant
relatives within the past several generations, but do not fully express the more ancient genetic relationships
between populations through shared origins and migrations that are retained in each part the world.
In contrast, DNA Tribes results can include locations associated with recent family genealogy, but can also express
your ancestral relationship to world populations that predate the relatively short period recorded by paper genealogy.
Q: Can people of European family origins obtain DNA matches with Middle Eastern populations?
A: Yes. DNA Tribes results locate all world populations where a person's autosomal DNA is shared. Results are
not related to appearance and can express deeper genetic relationships that cross perceived ethnic boundaries.
Specifically, results for people of European family origins can include DNA matches with Middle Eastern and in
some cases South Asian or Central Asian populations. These DNA matches can express genetic traces of shared
origins, migrations, and trade contacts linking Europe with neighboring populations of West Eurasia.
In the context of world genetic structure, European populations are related to both South Asian and Middle Eastern
populations. For instance, the wider context for European ancestry is described in more detail in this Digest article:
These European links with the Middle East are not limited to any individual ethnic group or part of Europe. Rather,
European populations as a whole are related to Middle Eastern populations as a basic feature of world genetic
structure. Genetic differences between European and Middle Eastern regions are comparable to genetic
differences between Siberian and East Asian populations: that is, they are local differences between related
populations that have been linked through shared origins and ongoing contacts throughout prehistory and history.
More information about the genetic links between Europe and the Near East is available at http://dnatribes.
com/sample-results/dnatribes-global-survey-july2013.pdf (STR) and http://dnatribes.com/dnatribes-snp-admixture-
A more in-depth discussion of European genetic links with neighboring parts of the world, including probable
European origins from ancestral West Asian populations, is included in these Digest articles: http://dnatribes.
com/dnatribes-digest-2013-01-02.pdf and http://dnatribes.com/dnatribes-digest-2012-06-01.pdf
Q: Can people with mixed ancestry obtain DNA matches in native populations where similar mixture has taken
place in more ancient periods?
A: Yes. For people with mixed ancestry or ancestry from modern mixed populations, DNA matches results will
identify the ethnic groups and world regions where their unique combination of DNA inherited 50% from each
parent can be found. Results will vary based on what genetic material has been inherited, and can identify one of
more places of parental origins or in some cases intermediate populations where similar mixes have taken place.
For instance, people with Latin American ancestry can inherit a mixture of European and Native American alleles
that is similar to more ancient patterns of mixture that have taken place in Eurasian populations (including India).
This is because populations of South Asia (including present day India and neighboring countries) have been a
contact point where European related, East Asian related, and to some degree Near Eastern and African related
populations have mixed since early periods. More information about genetic links in this part of the world is
available in these Digest articles:
http://dnatribes.com/dnatribes-digest-2009-01-31.pdf (coastal Silk Routes)
http://dnatribes.com/dnatribes-digest-2008-12-26.pdf (inland Silk Routes)
http://dnatribes.com/dnatribes-digest-2010-03-31.pdf (large scale or macro level genetic links in West Eurasia)
For this reason, DNA Tribes matches are performed on a comprehensive basis and include all populations in our
STR database (both native populations and modern mixed communities around the world) where a person's DNA
profile can be found. If a person's DNA profile can be found both in native populations (such as India) and mixed
communities (such as Latin American populations), your DNA match results will include all of the populations in
our database where your combination of STR markers is shared.
Q: Can DNA Tribes provide information not available through traditional genealogy?
Yes. DNA Tribes offers a genetic analysis that includes information invisible to traditional genealogy and can
complement your genealogical research. Genealogy is a type of history documenting biographical information
about lineal ancestors that can establish who your ancestors were. However, genealogy cannot identify the specific
genetic connections passed down by these ancestors. This is because genealogy deals with only the means of
DNA transmission and not with the substance itself. The autosomal genetic analysis offered by DNA Tribes can
complement genealogical research by identifying your genetic connections to living populations passed down by
your historical ancestors.
For instance, genealogical research might document that a person's grandparents originated in Ireland, Germany
and Italy. However, members of each of these national populations exhibit a range of individual genetic variation
that genealogy cannot identify. (Detailed analysis of the genetic composition of ethnic groups around the world is
available in our global survey, viewable by clicking here.) Additionally, family members each inherit a unique
combination of DNA from these grandparents. One grandchild might inherit DNA most typical of Ireland; another,
DNA typical of Italy; and another, a blending of DNA typical of Central European populations living between these
three countries of origin. This is because genealogical "fractions" can only provide non-genetic information about
historical ancestors, which can then be complemented by genetic information measuring the connections to living
populations that each person inherits. Just as with physical appearance, each person possesses a unique
combination of DNA that exists as a whole with genetic relations to living populations as well as to historical
Q: Do my DNA Tribes results prove my membership in a certain ethnic group?
A: Your top matches are the places in our database where your DNA profile is most common. A match with a
particular ethnic or national population sample does not guarantee you or a recent ancestor (parent or grandparent,
for instance) are a member of that ethnic group. However, a match does indicate a population where your
combination of ancestry is common, which is most often due to shared ancestry with that population.
For instance, an African-American might match populations from Cape Verde (an island nation off the coast of West
Africa) or Belem, Brazil. Like African-Americans, each of these populations is descended from a recent blending of
Europeans and Africans. A Global Population match with either of these populations could be due a similar
blending of African and European ancestors. Likewise, a match with a population of Caucasians in Indiana, U.S.A.
does not necessarily indicate your ancestors came from Indiana, but instead indicates your blend of genetic
ancestry is present within that population.
Nevertheless, DNA Tribes matches reflect a rigorous comparison to living populations as they exist today. Although
results do not always relate directly to particular genealogical events, all match results reflect the genetic relations
of individuals to the complex texture of actual world populations. For instance, a small fraction of European
individuals inherit a DNA profile that is most frequent in India. Indian affiliation is most common in Roma (Gypsy)
populations, but can be also found in non-Roma populations throughout Europe. (More details available in our
global survey of world populations). While this result does not necessarily indicate a great-grandparent from India,
it does reflect the small but significant overlap between some individuals in European and South Asian populations.
Q: Does DNA Tribes prove identity?
A: Identity is complex and defined by a very personal combination history, geography, and culture. While a DNA test
alone cannot define a person's identity, results from our analysis can provide important clues to ancestral origins
within major world regions and sometimes even individual ethnic groups. Alongside genealogical, historical and
cultural information, our analysis can contribute another important piece to the puzzle of personal identity.
Q: Can test results be used to apply for Native American tribal enrollment or to obtain official Indian status?
A: No. However, DNA match results can provide genetic clues as to the regions and living tribal populations where
a person's DNA is most common. Because of the strong genetic differences observed between American Indian
populations, test results can provide evidence to assist in the documentary and genealogical research necessary
to establish historical ties to particular Native American tribal nations.
Approximately 1/4 Native American ancestry is generally necessary to identify a regional or tribal genetic affiliation.
The most informative results can be obtained by testing the available relative (of either gender) who is most closely
related to Native American ancestors. Although DNA matches cannot prove tribal ancestry for official purposes,
testing can provide genetic clues to your origins to help locate documentation of descent from an enrolled ancestor
(required for membership by most tribal organizations).
After testing is complete, we can also identify the fractions of Native American ancestry consistent with DNA results
at no additional charge by request to email@example.com.
For interested tribal enrollment officials, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about how
the information in DNA Tribes results can be interpreted and applied, or for more information about private group
Q: How is ancestry from tribes not listed in DNA Tribes database (such as ancestry from Cherokee and other
Southeastern tribes) expressed in results?
A: Ancestry from tribal nations not yet listed in our database is expressed in match scores for the nearest genetic
region in Part D of each report. For instance, ancestry from tribal nations of the Southeastern United States such as
the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, and Creek (Muskogee) is expressed in match scores for the North Amerindian
genetic region. Ancestry from Southeastern tribes can also be expressed in match scores for the Mexican and
Mayan genetic regions to reflect a pre-European migration from the west to east in this part of North America.
Q: DNA Tribes materials use the terms "Native American" and "American Indian" to describe indigenous
populations of the Americas. How are these terms used?
A: DNA Tribes uses both of the terms "Native American" and "American Indian" inclusively to describe indigenous
peoples living in North, Central, and South America (including native Alaskans) to the present day. This is because
all indigenous populations throughout the American continents share unique genetic characteristics that
distinguish them from other world populations. More information about these genetic relationships is available in
our Global Survey.
DNA Tribes uses both the terms "Native American" and "American Indian" synonymously, because each term
remains in use today. The term "Native American" has become more common in academic texts and other forms of
discourse in the United States. This term may or may not also be used to include indigenous peoples outside the
United States. DNA Tribes uses the term "Native American" inclusively, to reflect the genetic continuity among
indigenous populations throughout the Americas.
In addition, the term "American Indian" also remains in widespread use, particularly among indigenous
communities living in what is sometimes called "Indian Country" (the parts of the United States where indigenous
cultures thrive to the present day). DNA Tribes uses the term "American Indian" to emphasize this living continuity
and sovereignty of indigenous peoples, who continue the many traditions of their elders to the present day.
Q: How do DNA Tribes match results relate to historical events?
A: Many living populations retain genetic material that dates to their founding in ancient times as well as traces of
more recent events. The genetic patterns identified by DNA Tribes relate primarily to geography: living ethnic groups
are most often related to their neighbors, sharing common ties to world regions that can cross ethnic and cultural
divisions. Some populations that have migrated from their homelands also retain genetic connections to their
places of origin: for instance, Polish Tatars retain stronger Mongolian affiliations than are seen elsewhere in
However, the relation of genetics to historical events presents many difficulties and often requires reference to non-
genetic information. The similarities observed between some neighboring populations of differing language and
culture suggest ancient regional patterns of contact that can predate and outlast ethnic groupings. For instance,
Mediterranean affiliations observed in North Africa, the Levant and Western Europe could reflect historical
influences of Greeks or Romans, but likely also reflect older, enduring contacts that predate those particular
civilizations. DNA Tribes encourages our customers to explore the historical dimensions of ancestry, and provides
a detailed, empirical genetic analysis for a solid foundation to enable this speculative research.
Q: How are the DNA Tribes world regions defined?
A: DNA Tribes is the only genetic ancestry analysis that identifies world regions based on mathematical patterns of
unique genetic variation. Other tests rely on non-scientific racial divisions. These presumed racial groupings
present an incorrect and incomplete view of genetic patterns actually present in the world. Simplistic divisions of
the world into 3-5 continents ignores important unique regions that do not neatly fall into presumed racial
categories, such as such as North Africa, Polynesia or Tibet. DNA Tribes analysis does not make any
assumptions based on non-scientific racial divisions.
Instead of relying in presumed racial divisions, DNA Tribes defines world regions identified in a comprehensive
database of world populations by objective mathematical criteria. Many of these world regions correspond to
cultural or linguistic groups. For instance, Slavic-speaking peoples share a predominance of the Eastern
European region. Other world regions cross national and cultural boundaries as they exist today and reflect the
genetic imprint of older patterns of human interactions in these zones.
A map illustrating the world regions identified by our unique mathematical analysis can be viewed by selecting
Q: Why are population matches presented in separate Native and Global rankings?
A: Each person’s ranked population results are divided into Native and Global Population Match. Native Population
Match results include indigenous populations with minimal admixture in the past 500 years, such as Native
Amazonians, Scottish, Egyptians or Japanese. Global Population Match includes these indigenous populations as
well as modern Diaspora ethnic groups such as African-Americans, European-Americans or Asian-Americans.
Modern Diaspora populations are descended from immigrants who have recently moved from their homelands to
live around the world, often blending with other peoples.
Many people with Diaspora origins obtain their many of their strongest population matches with modern
populations rather than indigenous populations. Population matches are divided between Native and Global to
identify these Diaspora affiliations as well as genetic links to indigenous peoples. For instance, many African-
Americans match African Diaspora populations such as African-Americans from various U.S. states, Afro-Brazilians
and related peoples. However, their Native Match results can also indicate roots in indigenous African, European
or Native American populations.
Q: What are MLI scores?
A: Each DNA Tribes Native and Global Population Match and World Region Match is listed with a Match Likelihood
Index (MLI) score that indicates your odds of belonging to that population relative to your odds of belonging to a
generic human population. For instance, a Native Population Match with Macedonia scored 45.2 indicates your
genetic ancestry is 45.2 times as likely in Macedonia as in the world.
Population and world region match results are provided in a ranked listing, from most likely to least likely. Top
ranked scores indicate your best population or regional matches in the DNA Tribes database. All matches can be
compared against each other as odds ratios. For instance, if you obtain a score of 25.0 for Bavarian and 5.0 for
Macedonian, this means your genetic profile is 25.0/5.0 = 5.0 times as likely to be Bavarian as Macedonian.
Q: What are typical scores for my ethnic group? Are my scores very high or low?
A: Individuals within each population exhibit a characteristic range of world region scores. This range varies by
world region and ethnicity. For this reason, each MLI score in your population and world region rankings is
assigned a percentile-based TribeScore that expresses how your MLI score fits among members of that population
Q: What are TribeScores?
TribeScores are a unique scoring method developed by DNA Tribes that compares a person's match scores for a
population to the scores of actual members within that ethnic group or region. Each DNA Tribes match includes a
TribeScore in parentheses, listing your MLI score’s percentile in that population. TribeScores compares your MLI
scores to members of each ethnic group and world region. For instance, results listing “Switzerland (0.73)”
indicate that your MLI score is higher than 73% of scores from this Swiss reference population, and lower than 27%
of these Swiss individuals. TribeScores of (0.05) and above are within the expected range for a population, and
TribeScores between the (0.25) and above are ordinary or typical for members of that population. TribeScores
indicate how high or low your score is in the specific context of each population, providing the necessary point
of reference to explain each MLI score.
Q: Can a person of one ethnic group obtain their strongest match with another group or even world region?
A: Yes. Each population includes a spectrum of gene frequencies. Within that spectrum, some alleles (genes) will
be typical of that general region, some will be typical of nearby regions, and some might be more unique to that
It is common for people to imagine a population in terms of general or distinctive characteristics. However,
individuals within any population exhibit a range of variation. While red hair might seem typical of Irish descent, red
hair is only found in a minority of Irish people and can be found in many other populations and even continents.
The same is true of genetic ancestry. Some individuals in an ethnic population group might carry alleles (genes)
that are highly typical of that group. However, all will retain genetic connections to other nearby populations, and
some will retain a primary affiliation with other world regions.
A global survey of world region affiliations within a variety of populations can be viewed by clicking here.
This survey illustrates the spectrum of regional affiliations for a variety of national and ethnic populations. DNA
Tribes results for an individual from that group could include any affiliation represented within that population.
Q: How can I compare my DNA Tribes results with information from other genetic ancestry tests?
A: DNA Tribes provides a unique perspective on genetic ancestry by measuring a person’s genetic connections to
specific population samples and world regions. This information can complement results from Y chromosome,
mtDNA or admixture tests to provide a more comprehensive picture of your genetic ancestry.
DNA Tribes has several advantages over other types of genetic ancestry test. Y chromosome and mtDNA tests can
indicate one lineage a person has inherited from one direct lineal ancestor. This can be traced through particular
genealogical ancestors, providing a direct correspondence with traditional documentary (paper) genealogy.
However, while each person has thousands of lineal ancestors even within the past 500 years, Y chromosome or
mtDNA tests can only provide information about two of these ancestors.
SNP Admixture tests estimate a person’s contribution from several broad continental groups. Like DNA Tribes,
admixture tests use genetic material passed down from a sampling of all ancestors. Admixture types of tests
assume a person is descended from a handful of prominent populations, such as Western Europeans and East
Asians. However, most people in the world are not descended from a mixture of Western Europeans, East Asians,
West Africans, and Central Americans. DNA Tribes analysis measures a person’s genetic connections to
populations and major regions from all over the world. Each of these regions retains unique characteristics that
cannot be described by a basic division of the world into just a few regions. For instance, North African Berbers are
not a mixture of Europeans and West Africans, but are unique peoples with distinctive genetic characteristics. DNA
Tribes measures your connections to important world regions such as Eastern Europe, North India or Northeast
Amerindians that can be overlooked or misclassified by an admixture test.
DNA Tribes can provide information not available from other types of analysis. This information can be combined
with results from other DNA tests for a more thoroughly detailed picture of your genetic ancestry.
Q: Do my results show what percentage of various groups I am?
A: DNA Tribes does not perform a percentage of admixture calculation. DNA Tribes is a statistical likelihood
analysis based on actual allele (gene) frequencies scientifically measured in hundreds of world population
samples. Admixture estimate can be useful in certain conditions (especially for medical purposes). Admixture
analysis requires many assumptions, including the designation of “non-mixed” populations based primarily on
racial groups defined by society. In reality, no population is “100% unmixed” or completely isolated from other
populations. Genes can be shared between populations due to common origins, historical invasions, or slow
diffusion by local contact over many generations.
Our unique method of analysis is valid for anyone from anywhere in the world, because DNA Tribes analysis
makes no pre-defined assumptions about ancestral groups and instead directly compares your DNA profile to
world populations. Instead of estimating admixture, DNA Tribes measures a person’s genetic connections within
populations, identifying the ethnic groups and world regions where a person’s DNA profile is most common. For
people of multiple family origins, DNA Tribes test results will identify the ethnic groups and world regions where
your unique combination of DNA inherited 50% from each parent can be found. Results will vary based on what
genetic material has been inherited, and can identify one of more places of parental origins or in some cases
intermediate populations where similar mixtures have taken place.
Q: Why do DNA Tribes results identify the populations where a person's DNA profile is most common, instead
of estimating admixture from major racial groups?
DNA Tribes analysis is an empirical analysis that identifies a person's best genetic fits among actual world
populations. Although admixture analysis is appropriate only in a limited context, DNA Tribes' unbiased method of
analysis is appropriate for both individuals of mixed and unmixed backgrounds. For people of mixed origins, DNA
Tribes results reflect the genetic material actually passed down from both paternal and maternal ancestors.
However, admixture is only one of several processes that shape human genetic diversity. Although the human
genetic landscape has been influenced by major admixture events (such as the European colonization of Latin
America), this genetic structure also reflects the complex interplay of processes including shared historical origins
of populations, internal processes such as genetic drift, and gradual small-scale gene flow. For this reason, a
simple model of admixture does not explain human variation, and admixture analysis can generate misleading or
incomplete results. DNA Tribes analysis provides a direct comparison to hundreds of actual populations, reflecting
the full genetic complexity of living populations.
The structure of many world populations cannot be meaningfully explained only in terms of admixture. This is a
fundamental methodological problem that cannot be overcome by the use of many of genetic markers. For
instance, Europe has been inhabited for several tens of thousands of years, and has developed an internal
regional structure while also undergoing continuous and periodic gene flow between populations and regions, and
to a lesser extent with Near Eastern and other adjacent populations. Living European populations exhibit consistent
regional structure that nevertheless includes overlap with other European and Near Eastern regions. As in all parts
of the world, European genetic structure has been shaped by many genetic processes, expressed in regular
differences rooted in geography.
Additionally, analyses based only on an admixture model cannot fully account for the ordinary variation within every
population. Some individuals within every ethnic group and region can inherit genetic markers typical of nearby or,
less frequently, distantly related populations. This can reflect a recent ancestor from another region, but can also
reflect the ordinary genetic variation within all human populations. For instance, India includes some of the oldest
source populations for European and Asian peoples, and some individuals in Europe and Asia can inherit alleles
that are frequent in India. These could be passed down from a recent ancestor from India, but can also reflect the
ancient shared roots with India retained in living European and Asian populations.
Even in regions where historical admixture has been more frequent, admixture takes a specific local character. For
instance, both the Malay Archipelago and Mongolian regions have been the site of contacts between Near Eastern
and East Asian populations dating to historical and prehistoric times. However, this cross-continental admixture is
expressed uniquely in each region's genetic patterns and cannot be explained in terms of simple admixture. DNA
Tribes is the only test rigorous and detailed enough to distinguish ancestry from these and other local regions
shaped by unique geographical and human interactions.
Further, gene flow between human populations has been continuous throughout most of history. Many ethnic
crossings now thought of as admixture are reiterating crossings that have taken place in history and prehistory. For
instance, gene flow between Sub-Saharan African and Caucasian (European and Near Eastern) populations has
taken place in areas in and near the Sahara Desert (including the North African and East African genetic regions)
throughout history. The blending of African and European peoples that has taken place since the colonial era in
North, Central and South America is usually thought of as a novel crossing, but from a broader perspective is
recapitulating an ancient pattern of trans-Saharan gene flow. In contrast, the combination of American Indian and
European and/or African populations is a novel type of crossing without a known historical precedent, and
characterizes the relatively young Mestizo world region.
However, admixture analysis can be appropriate and informative in limited contexts. Where a modern Diaspora
ethnic group has mixed with populations from other regions, admixture analysis can estimate the contribution from
each source population. For instance, African-Americans often inherit ancestry from African and European
populations, and admixture analysis can meaningfully estimate the contribution of each group. In this case, DNA
Tribes analysis can complement admixture estimates by identifying the specific tribes, regions and ethnic groups
where a person's DNA is most common in each continent of origin.
DNA Tribes avoids the error of attributing all intra-populational variation to admixture by providing a detailed
empirical analysis that identifies the actual living populations where a person's unique DNA is most common.
These individual results can then be viewed in the light of known family genealogy, geography and historical events.
Q: How can DNA Tribes identify Native American ancestry?
A: DNA Tribes can identify Native American ancestry through a match with a particular Native American population
or a with a Native American world region. DNA Tribes currently includes a number of Native American tribal
populations in our database. A listing of these populations can be found here.
Additionally, DNA Tribes distinguishes a number of major Native American world regions. A listing of these with a
map can be found by selecting Populations.
One world region includes a recent mixture of Native Americans with Europeans and Africans. For many people of
mixed ancestry with a substantial Native American component, the Mestizo world region will be their strongest
World Region Match. This can often be corroborated by a substantial (match score greater than 1.0) match with
another Native American world region.
The Native American regions identified by DNA Tribes analysis are highly distinct from European and African world
regions. For this reason, many people with a Native American ancestor do not obtain a substantial Native
American match in their population or world region results. In such cases, a Native American Panel (see below for
more information) can identify their nearest relatives amongst Native American populations. A DNA Tribes Fact
Sheet about DNA testing and American Indian ancestry research and enrollment can be downloaded here.
Q: What are the DNA Tribes Native American Panel and African Panel?
A: For some customers of African or Native American descent, ancestry from another world region can dominate
Native and Global Population Match results. The DNA Tribes African and Native American Panels are each
supplementary ranked listings of a person’s match scores for these indigenous populations.
For instance, a person of African and European descent might inherit strong genetic signals from Europe resulting
in only European Top 10 Native Match results, without an indication of genetic roots in indigenous African
populations. African Panel results provide a supplementary ranked list of a person’s medium resolution results
with all indigenous Sub-Saharan African populations, including those that do not appear in Top 20 Native
Population Match results.
Likewise, a person of European and Native American descent might inherit strong genetic signals from Europe
resulting in only European Top 10 Native Match results, without an indication of affiliations with Native American
populations. Native American Panel results provide a supplementary ranked list of a person’s medium resolution
results with all unmixed Native American populations, including those that do not appear in Top 20 Native
Population Match results.
As with all individual population matches, African or Native American Panel results measure a person’s genetic
connections to individual ethnic and national populations. Match scores from each panel can be directly compared
to that person’s top 20 medium resolution Native and Global Population Match results. Additional DNA testing is
not required for these supplementary reports. African or Native American Panels can be ordered together with a
person’s testing kit or any time afterwards.
Q: Do DNA Tribes results correspond to physical appearance?
A: Our analysis uses neutral genetic markers not associated with physical appearance. Neutral genetic markers
are locations within a person’s DNA not associated with phenotype (appearance) and not subject to natural
selection. For instance, a person might have light hair and eye pigmentation while still retaining some neutral
genetic links to Middle Eastern populations.
Q: Do DNA Tribes results indicate any medical conditions?
A: No. DNA Tribes is a genetic ancestry analysis not related to any medical conditions.
Q: Are my DNA Tribes® test results used strictly for DNA Tribes geographical analysis, instead of being
collected for pharmaceutical research?
A: Yes. Your DNA Tribes® lab results are used strictly for your personal geographical ancestry analysis and for
internal research and development of DNA Tribes® geographical analysis. The price of your DNA Tribes® test
reflects the real costs of lab testing, with no secondary uses for medical research.
DNA Tribes® respects your right to choose how your genetic data are collected and used. DNA Tribes® will never
ask you any questions about your health or private medical history, and your DNA Tribes® data will never be used
for pharmaceutical research and development or otherwise sold or shared with any third parties.
Q: I have already obtained my autosomal STR profile from a previous DNA test. Do I qualify for an STR
A: The autosomal STR marker systems used in DNA Tribes® Genetic Ancestry Analysis are standard forensic
markers also used for paternity/maternity and other forensic DNA testing. The markers needed for an Analysis Only
are: D3S1358, TH01, D21S11, D18S51, D5S818, D13S317, D7S820, D16S539, CSF1PO, vWA, D8S1179, TPOX,
FGA, Penta D, and Penta E. Additional markers that can be included (optional) are: D2S1338, D19S433, F13A1,
F13B, FES/FPS, LPL, D10S1248, D12S391, D1S1656, D22S1045, D2S441, and SE33
If you already have these markers from a previous genetic test, you can order an STR Analysis Only without the
need for further DNA processing. STR Analysis Only orders can be placed through our secure online checkout
system at: http://dnatribes.com/order_addons.html.
When placing your Analysis Only order, email your autosomal STR profile to email@example.com.
A: DNA Tribes is committed to the highest standards of genetic confidentiality and anonymity. DNA Tribes does not
rent, sell, or share personal information about you with other people or companies.
Q: How can I send payment by check or money order?
A: In addition to online payment options, DNA Tribes can accept payment by check or money order made out to
“DNA Tribes” and mailed to:
P.O. Box 735
Arlington, VA 22216 USA
However, ordering through our secure online storefront allows us to provide your genetic ancestry analysis more
quickly and securely. Orders can be placed through our secure online checkout.
Q: Where do I mail my DNA sample?
A: Once you have collected your DNA sample using our easy cheek swab collection kit, please return it to our
partner laboratory using the return envelope enclosed with your kit. If your return envelope has been lost or
damaged, please contact DNA Tribes customer support at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: DNA Tribes does not yet include my ancestral population. How can I suggest my ethnic group for future
inclusion in the DNA Tribes World Population Database?
A: DNA Tribes is continually expanding our population database to be as comprehensive as possible. If you would
like to suggest a population for future inclusion, please email us at email@example.com with your ethnic group.
For customers whose ethnic group is not yet included in our database, DNA Tribes results will identify the nearest
populations and regions in our database where your genetic ancestry is best represented. If we are later able to
include your ancestral population in our database, you can simply order an update for your analysis to reflect this
new data without further DNA testing.
Q: I am interested in contacting DNA Tribes regarding an article or media appearance. Whom can I contact?
A: Please direct media inquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our Mission at DNA Tribes is to bring you maximum information using cutting edge science at an affordable price.
For merchant information, including shipping information and return policy, click here.
For further inquiries, please fill out our Customer Feedback form.
To order your own DNA Tribes Personal Genetic Analysis, simply order online, and we'll send your cheek swab
kit right away.