New Megapopulations: The Bottom Line


Work by our head of statistics over the summer has made it possible to give customers purchasing the DNA Fingerprint Plus an analysis of their ethnicity and ancestry according to world “megapopulations.” These are the broadest possible biogeographical categories answering the question, “Where do I come from.”

The following is a sample result, with explanation as customers might receive it:

Megapopulations:  the Bottom Line

These are the Top Ten broadest possible categories for your relative mix of ethnicities. “1 in 1 trillion” is the random probable match or chance of occurrence for your unique DNA profile or fingerprint. The lower the number the greater the match and more likely it is you have ancestry in that population.

Northern European 1 in 98 billion
European American 1 in 107 billion
Jewish 1 in 148 billion
Central European 1 in 156 billion
East European 1 in 158 billion
Iberian 1 in 168 billion
Mediterranean European 1 in 183 billion
Iberian American 1 in 220 billion
Melungeon 1 in 237 billion
Middle Eastern 1 in 266 billion

Bear in mind that 1 in 100 billion is lower than 1 in 200 billion (and twice as strong), just as a chance of winning a lottery prize of 1 in 4 is greater than 1 in 100

To summarize the result given above, this test subject appears to be mostly European, including Northern European and other regions, with a high match for Jewish. There may also be ancestral ties with Melungeons and Middle Eastern.

The database atDNA 4.0 contains the following 21 megapopulations which you can get in your “bottom line” result:

African
African American
American Indian
Australoid
Austronesian
Central Asian
Central European
East Asian
East European
European American
Iberian
Iberian American
Jewish
Mediterranean European
Melungeon
Middle Eastern
North Asian
Northern European
Romani
South Asian
Southeast Asian

For population coverage and possible bias, see Megapopulations.

While it is not possible to extrapolate percentages, you can get an idea of the most important megapopulation matches and their relative value to other ancestries by looking at the Random Match Probability or match likelihood number. For instance, from the example shown, we can infer that the person primarily has Northern European roots and belongs to the emigrant population European American (U.S. and Canada). We can also get a notion of what ancestry is not featured prominently in their mix–evidently there is no American Indian, Romani, African or Asian since these megapopulations are not in the top matches but presumably in the lower range.

By comparing match likelihoods we can state that the person:

  • Is twice as likely to be Northern European as Mediterranean European
  • Has about the same likelihood of being Jewish as Central or Eastern European
  • Has about half as much likelihood of being Melungeon and Middle Eastern as Northern European and European American

Remember that results are not absolute, but only relative. They cannot be equated with percentages.