Frequently Asked Questions

About the DNA Fingerprint Plus

What are the markers in the ethnic panel?

These eighteen markers have been found by DNA Consultants to correlate with probable ethnic ancestry such as Native American, Asian and African. They reflect major human migrations as depicted on the following map. Since you receive one allele (unit of human variation) from one parent and one from the other, you can potentially have two markers, one or none. It is not possible to say which parent you get a marker from, and the fact that you do not have a marker does not mean that you lack that ancestry.

What is a false positive?

A false positive marker occurs when your profile contains the marker in question but control measures show that it is not a true indicator when considered together with all your other markers. Common false positives are 1) Finnic/Uralic for people with Native American ancestry, 2) Sub-Saharan African for Ashkenazi Jews and Russians, 3) Asian for certain European populations and 4) Australoid/Southeast Asian for any of the other ethnic groups.

What markers are there exactly and what are their names?

The 18 markers are:

Why should I test with your company?

That is a legitimate question. We have answers. (1) You get the most accurate information possible in the current state of genetics. (2) We are one of the few companies that uses an ISO-certified lab which guarantees your results. (3) Most ancestry tests do not reflect all your ancestry as our most popular DNA Fingerprint Test does, meaning you get the most information and biggest “bang for your buck.” ( 5) We give you a personal analysis with matches to specific regions with the DNA Fingerprint Plus, and we are always here for any questions. No “unspecified data.”

What are the Native American markers and what do they tell me?

NATIVE AMERICAN I. This marker is inherited by an individual who has some degree, whether large or small, of Native American ancestry. Often it comes from only one parent. As with other markers, if you didn’t get it, that does not mean you don’t have any Native American ancestry. Pairs of markers (alleles) are reshuffled from generation to generation, and it could have been lost.  You may have it, but a sibling might not. By “Native American” is meant any of the indigenous groups who lived in either North or South America before Columbus.  It is the same as American Indian. Because of the sensitivity of this test, your Native ancestors may have lived hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Native American DNA is so distinctive that this test can detect even small amounts of it. Note that since this marker occurs with the highest frequency in Native Americans and the lowest in Asians, it is a good means of distinguishing between the two. Since they share, to some extent, a common deep history, the two ethnic groups are often confused with each other. NATIVE AMERICAN II (Hispanic). Similar to Native American I but found typically in people who are half or less Native American and about half Iberian with sometimes a lesser amount of Sub-Saharan African, i.e., Hispanic or Latino.

What about the European markers?

EUROPEAN markers are located on two different chromosomes and relate to prehistoric human migrations in Eurasia. Certain readings on these two sites are nearly specific to European populations, including European emigrants to North and South America. Europe embraces, north to south, Scandinavia, Spain, Italy and Greece, and west to east, the British Isles. Poland and that part of Russia west of the Ural Mountains. Both EUROPEAN markers were carried westward by proto-Europeans approximately 40,000 years ago after they split off from an earlier stock from which Asians and Native Americans are also descended. Not always, but frequently, Europeans can thus be distinguished from Asians by their different values on these sites, mutations that characterize the generations of people who came after the split and living downstream from it. It is a great divide between Asians and Europeans. Furthermore, if you have the Mediterranean marker, your ancestors passed down to you a genetic heritage emphasizing the South of Europe, populated by the oldest Europeans. The frequency of this marker decreases as we go north. This pattern exposes the refuges where European peoples wintered the Ice Age around the warmer Mediterranean Sea, emerging eventually and expanding northward to repopulate all of Europe beginning about 12,000 years ago. Native Americans split off from proto-Europeans, not from Asians, so they are likely to carry markers on these locations similar to Europeans. Technically speaking, the genetic distance between Native Americans and Europeans is smaller than that between them and Asians. Consequently, the markers called European and Asian offer a means to separate Asian from Native American ancestry. Remember, however, that the absence of a marker is not proof of the absence of that ancestry! European or Asian or a combination of the two may be revealed by other values in your genetic material. Only the DNA Fingerprint Ancestry Report will reveal all the details of your probably mixture of ethnic origins. EASTERN EUROPEAN. These are two markers, each diagnostic of likely Eastern European ancestry somewhere in your family tree. They are most common in Swedes, Poles, Lithuanians, Belarusians, Latvians, Ukrainians and Russians and least common in Australian Aboriginals, Sub-Saharan Africans and Indians. They are found frequently also in Ashkenazi Jews. Except for Sweden, all the matching countries are predominately Slavic in their demography and culture.

Tell me about the Jewish markers.

JEWISH. These markers do not necessarily point to Jewish ancestry. They can also signal ancestry in any of the places where Ashkenazi Jews historically lived. Thus, they are often found in combination with Eastern European. One of the two major branches of Jewry, the other being Sephardic, or Spanish, Jews, Ashkenazi (“German,” in Hebrew) Jews started out in the Rhineland and northern France following the collapse of the Roman Empire. During the Age of Charlemagne around 800 they began to move eastward as the lands of the Central and Eastern European Slavs were conquered by the Franks and Germans. They reached a high point in their development as a people in seventeenth-century Poland, Lithuania, Silesia, the Ukraine, Russia and Romania. During Germany’s Third Reich, six million or more of them were killed in the Holocaust. In contemporary times, they represent perhaps the best-known face of Judaism and account for about 80% of American and Israeli Jews. Because they trace back to a small nucleus (founder effect or bottlenecking) which kept expanding while preserving the same gene pool (genetic drift), Ashkenazi Jews have very recognizable genetic traits. They are also subject potentially to a range of hereditary disorderssuch as Tay-Sachs disease.  As in the case of other markers, these are not completely conclusive in showing Jewish ancestry, nor do they tell you how much you may have or where in your genealogies it may lie. JEWISH IV (TATAR/KHAZAR). The Tatars andKhazars were a Central Asian people of Hunnish, Turkic and Iranian origin. After converting to Judaism in the early Middle Ages, the Khazars, who lived in the Caucasus at that time, moved westward under pressure from Arab conquerors, eventually becoming a large component of Eastern European Jewry. Many Ashkenazi Jews now find they have some Tatar or Khazar ancestry.

What are the Asian markers and what do they indicate?

In the context of DNA Fingerprint Plus, Asia consists of China, Siberia, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and other islands around the China Sea, as well as India, Southeast Asia and Australia. Asian I is centered in North China, Asian II in India and Asian III Southeast Asia. Asian IV is the most definitive Asian marker; it sometimes occurs in profiles that have American Indian ancestry.

What about African markers?

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICAN. Humans are believed to have lived originally in Africa. All non-African peoples are thought to have left Africa in an initially small group about 75,000 years ago, developing into the proto-Arab, Indian, Southeast Asian, Australoid, East Asian, European and Native American ethnic groups. But presence of a Sub-Saharan African marker (unless a false positive) usually indicates some degree of that ancestry, partial or whole, from modern times. It is not deep history. Sub-Saharan Africa (below the Sahara Desert) excludes North Africa, which is mostly Caucasian, and is customarily grouped with the Middle East. Between the sixteenth and nineteenth centuries, about 15 million Africans were transported to the New World as slaves, primarily from West Africa, Angola and Mozambique. Their descendants are the African Americans, among others. African ancestry is not uncommon in Portuguese, Sicilian and Middle Eastern people.

Where can I read more about ancient markers and populations?

  1. Achilli, Alessandro et al. (2005). “Saami and Berbers—An Unexpected Mitochondrial DNA Link.” Am. J. Hum. Genet. 76:883-86.
  2. Halder, I., M. Shriver, M. Thomas, J. R. Fernandez and T. Frudakis (2008). “A Panel of Ancestry Informative Markers for Estimating Individual Biogeographical Ancestry and Admixture from Four Continents:  Utility and Applications.” Human Mutation 29/5:648-58.
  3. Burritt, Brian A. (2007) OmniPop 350 macro-enabled spreadsheet. Compares your CODIS profile to frequency in over 350 populations worldwide. Penultimate versions downloadable at Population Data.
  4. Butler, John M. (2006). “Genetics and Genomics of Core Short Tandem Repeat Loci Used in Human Identity Testing.” Journal of Forensic Science 51/2:253-65.
  5. Cavalli-Sforza, L. et al (1994). History and Geography of Human Genes. Princeton:  Princeton University Press.
  6. DNA-Interactive. Easy to explore video modules on the many applications of DNA in the words of the founders and practitioners of genetics today.
  7. Elliott, Carl and Paul Brodwin (2002). “Identity and Genetic Ancestry Tracing,” in BMJ 325(7378):1469-1471.
  8. Halder, I., M. Shriver, M. Thomas, J. R. Fernandez and T. Frudakis (2008). “A Panel of Ancestry Informative Markers for Estimating Individual Biogeographical Ancestry and Admixture from Four Continents:  Utility and Applications.” Human Mutation 29/5:648-58.
  9. Iovita, Radee P. and Theodore G. Schurr, (2004), “Reconstructing the Origins and Migrations of Diasporic Populations: the Case of European Gypsies”, American Anthropologist 106/2:267-281.
  10. Lao, Oscar et al. (2008), “Correlation between Genetic and Geographic Structure in Europe.” Current Biology 18/16:  1241-48.
  11. Oppenheimer, Stephen (2006). The Origins of the British. A Genetic Detective Story. New York:  Carroll & Graf. —– (2005). The Real Eve. New York:  Carroll & Graf.
  12. Salas, A. et al. (2005). “Charting the Ancestry of African Americans.” Am J Hum. Genet. 77/4:676-80.
  13. Schurr, Theodore G. (2000). “Mitochondrial DNA and the Peopling of the New World.” American Scientist 88/3:246-53.
  14. Shriver, M. D. & Kittles, R. A. “Genetic ancestry and the search for personalized genetic histories.” Nature Rev. Genet. 5, 611-618 (2004).
  15. Sykes, Brian (2001). The Seven Daughters of Eve. New York, Norton. —– (2006). Saxons, Vikings and Celts. New York:  Norton.
  16. Thomas, M.G. et al (2002). “Founding Mothers of Jewish Communities:  Geographically Separated Jewish Groups Were Independently Founded by Very Few Female Ancestors.” Am J. Hum. Genet. 70:1411-1420. —–   (2000). “Y Chromosomes Traveling South: The Cohen Modal Haplotype and the Origins of the Lemba the ‘Black Jews of Southern Africa.’” Am. J. Hum. Genet., 66:674-686.
  17. Wade, Nicholas (2007). Before the Dawn. New York:  Penguin.
  18. Wells, Spencer (2006). Deep Ancestry: Inside the Genographic Project. Washington:  National Geographic.
  19. Yates, Donald N. (2009). Peoples of the World:  An Album of Ethnic Types. Scottsdale:  DNA Testing Systems. Preview and order at Blurb.
  20. Zerjal T. et al. (2003).”The Genetic Legacy of the Mongols.” Am J Hum Genet. 72/3:717-21.

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Sample DNA Fingerprint Plus Sample 18 Marker Ethnic Panel