Living DNA - June 2017 updates

Living DNA produced their first update.  An update by a "DNA for Ancestry" business can sound like an admission of failure.  To some, it could sound like a recall due to product failure.  "Your previous ancestry was a mistake".  This only applies if you have bought into some marketing campaigns, that autosomal DNA tests for ancestry actually work even close to 100%.  Surprise, they don't!  They are cutting edge, in development, and far from accurate below a Continental level. They are still somewhere in the twilight between being nothing more than a genetic lottery, and actually becoming a tool that is useful.  Therefore "updates" are to be welcomed.  They are a sign that the business wants to improve the test accuracy.  That is to the credit of Living DNA.

My latest results?  First of all, a quick recap on my actual ancestry, as supported by family history, local history, ethnicity, and by a traditionally researched record based family tree that includes over 270 direct ancestors over the past 380 years.  I'm English.  Indeed, all of my direct ancestors, appear to have been South East English.  More precise, I'm East Anglian.  On family history and recorded genealogy, I'd suggest that between 75% and 85% of my direct ancestors over the past three centuries were East Anglian, almost all from the County of Norfolk.  Others on my father's side, if not in East Anglia, still in Southern England.

That I feel, makes me an interesting subject for ancestral auDNA testing.  You see, my ancestry is very localised here in South East England.  DNA tests such as 23andMe that claim to accurately plot ancestry over the past 300 - 500 years should get me.  But they don't.  This is because their algorythms, and reference data set designs fail over different ages.  They also (although they sometimes deny it), fail to discriminate against older population background.  We East Anglians and South East English have been heavily admixed with non-British populations on the European Continent.  Not so much over the past 500 years, so much as over the past few thousand years.

The new Results.

Below are my Living DNA regional ancestry, based on Standard Mode.

Below are my Standard Mode results broken down into sub regions.

Below is a table, comparing my recorded ancestry, with my early Living DNA results in Standard, now my revised results.

Living DNA has now introduced two new modes of confidence called complete and cautious modes.  First the Complete results:

Below are my Complete Mode results in regional:

Below are my Complete Mode results for sub-regional:

Now the Cautious results:

Below are my Cautious Mode results in regional:

Finally, below are my Cautious Mode results for sub-regional:


No auDNA test, by any DNA-for-ancestry company has yet come close to assigning me 100% English or even British.  They don't get me.  23andMe gives me 32-37% "British & Irish".  FT-DNA gives me "36% British".  Therefore, to be fair, Living DNA, giving me 70% "Great Britain or Ireland", give me the best result.  However, Living DNA has started out with the largest, best quality British data-set of any DNA-for-ancestry company, and is often accused of a bias towards Britain in it's results.  If so, then my 70% still looks weak.  They are planning on producing similar quality data sets soon for Ireland, Germany, then France. Therefore any results, will as I started out saying at the beginning of this post, be perpetually progressive.  Businesses that do not improve data sets or algorithms, will not get any better.  They are not progressive.

I get Southern European in other tests besides this one.  Living DNA points to Tuscany.  FT-DNA before a recent update gave me 32% Southern European, although they have revised this down to a little noise from South-East Europe!  23andMe gives me 2% Southern European - but this appears nothing unusual for an English tester.  None-the-less, I am interested in trying to better understand, why some of these tests give me this "Southern European" admixture, for which my family history, local history, and recorded genealogy has absolutely no account.  It equally reflects in ancient calculators that give me a little bit more Neolithic Farmer than for other English, which on average, already have a little more Neolithic Farmer than other British or Irish populations do.

The New Complete and Cautious Modes

How do I feel about these?  At Sub-Regional level, the Complete mode starts to get silly.  For the first time, Living DNA at this level, starts to even suggest some ancestry from Wales, SW Scotland, and Northern Ireland.  Only small percentages - but I just don't buy them.

However, the Cautious Mode, I start to like.  My British ancestry doesn't increase, but it looks more realistic, although with strange enigmatic suggestions still of Italian ancestry in the mix.  At Sub-Regional level, Cautious Mode also looks a little more likely.  My East Anglian remains at 37%, I however, lose Lincolnshire (which does exist in my record), but retain Cornwall.  I think Cornwall unlikely - however, there is just a small hint that something could be there, in surname evidence of a brick-walled great great great grandparent.  So maybe, just maybe.

East Anglia

I seriously doubt that my East Anglian ancestry over the past 300 years genuinely falls much below 75%.  Living DNA only appears to recognise a half of it at 37% - but they claim to be easily able to identify East Anglian DNA.  They call it "Distinct" because of it's high levels of Continental admixture.  They have admitted that based on their early data sets, that it was hard to separate from Germanic.  I don't know why it isn't stronger in my results.  I honestly do believe that the test underplays it on my results, even though it is the strongest of any population in my test results.  My East Anglian ancestors lived mainly in Eastern, Central, and Southern Norfolk.

Living DNA also provide a chart of the Continental "contributing regions" to East Anglian ancestry:

Finally, a chart breaking down their proposal of my British ancestry at Cautious mode:

I'm not disappointed with Living DNA.  That it does identify me as 37% East Anglian is I believe, incredibly good, and far advanced over any other DNA-for-ancestry test.  I'm looking forward to more updates in the future.  Well done Living DNA.

Counting the SNPs - 23andMe V FT-DNA

Comparing 23andMe V4 kit raw file to FT-DNA raw file.

Both tests were taken by myself this year (2016).  I am here comparing the quality of two separate atDNA tests from the same person, by two different DNA for Ancestry companies.  As will be seen, the quality varies considerably, at least in terms of the number of SNPs that are tokenized once forwarded to  This is NOT a test of how well both companies ascertain our DNA ancestry from these files.  Both use their own reference populations and analysis programs.  I've reviewed that elsewhere.  This test simply weighs how many SNPs are registered from the autosomes and X chromosome of one person.

Using the GEDmatch DNA file diagnostic utility, I received the following SNP counts:

Kit M551698 (23andMe V4)

Token File data:
Chr Token SNP Count
1 40974
2 42110
3 34199
4 31020
5 30421
6 36383
7 26352
8 27900
9 23644
10 27888
11 25363
12 25395
13 19880
14 15957
15 15529
16 16551
17 13745
18 16775
19 9006
20 13530
21 7324
22 7386
X 15359

Processed in batch 5355
Number of SNPs utilized by GEDmatch template = 523997
Number of regular SNPs = 517780
Heterozygosity index = 0.302721 (fraction of total SNPs that are heterozygous)
No-calls = 4911 = 0.93956084952678 percent.
Kit M551698 has approximately 19959 total matches with other kits. Of these matches there are 4982 >= 7cM and 14977 < 7cM.

Kit T444495 (FT-DNA file):

Chr Token SNP Count
1 57931
2 59602
3 47094
4 41772
5 39314
6 47546
7 36567
8 36753
9 30643
10 36889
11 35941
12 35850
13 26763
14 22650
15 20899
16 21935
17 18379
18 22586
19 12773
20 19587
21 10001
22 9750
X 19176

Processed in batch 5914
Number of SNPs utilized by GEDmatch template = 709242
Number of regular SNPs = 694324
Heterozygosity index = 0.281384 (fraction of total SNPs that are heterozygous)

No-calls = 16077 = 2.263088030563 percent.

Kit T444495 has approximately 48755 total matches with other kits. Of these matches there are 9351 >= 7cM and 39404 < 7cM.


If the quality of a raw atDNA file is merely down to the number of SNPs that are tested, then FT-DNA clearly wins hands down, when compared with the 23andMe file, following tokenization for GEDmatch use.  The FT-DNA file utilises 709,209 SNPs compared with 23andMe's 523,997 SNPs

I thought that it might be interesting to compare how these files, of the same person, might compare on the same GEDmatch heritage admixture program.

On Eurogenes K13 Oracle, my 23andMe kit gets as top ten closest GD's:

1 South_Dutch 3.89
2 Southeast_English 4.35
3 West_German 5.22
4 Southwest_English 6.24
5 Orcadian 6.97
6 French 7.63
7 North_Dutch 7.76
8 Danish 7.95
9 North_German 8.17
10 Irish 8.22

On the same, using my FT-DNA kit (with many more SNPs tested as demonstrated above:

1 Southeast_English 3.75
2 South_Dutch 4.03
3 West_German 5.42
4 Southwest_English 5.68
5 Orcadian 6.33
6 North_Dutch 7.15
7 Danish 7.36
8 Irish 7.59
9 West_Scottish 7.62
10 North_German 7.7

Based on the numbers of SNPs tokenized, I will in future regard the FT-DNA (Family Tree DNA) file as superior in quality, over the 23andMe file, despite my disappointment in the FT-DNA My Origins ancestry analysis.