How a scientific innovation is helping family historians uncover their ethnicity inheritance

Are you your family’s resident genealogist? If you are or are just starting your family history research, you are part of a popular and growing hobby. While many Americans don’t know much about their genealogy, according to a survey by Ancestry®, 66% are eager and want to know more.

It’s not always easy to figure out everything about your genetic inheritance from historical records alone, and it’s even more difficult if you don’t know your parents or grandparents or if they don’t know theirs.

“Our customers want to know where they came from so that they can better understand who they are,” said Brian Donnelly, Senior Vice President and General Manager of AncestryDNA and International at Ancestry. “In fact, for years the top request from Ancestry customers has been for more insights into which side of their family they inherited certain ethnicities and genetic traits.”

One way to bridge this gap is to start with existing records then combine them with emerging DNA technologies to give people a fuller picture of their family history. With this in mind, the genealogy company has introduced SideView™.

This scientific innovation allows AncestryDNA® customers to see which ethnicities and other characteristics they inherited from their parents, without their parents taking a DNA test. This technological advancement is huge for many people who, for one reason or another, don’t know all of their family history and want to know more about their genetic history.

How does SideView™ work?

To understand how SideView™ works and why this technology is groundbreaking, it’s important to understand genome phasing. Phasing is the technical term for determining what you inherited from your paternal and maternal lineages, which gives you a picture of your genetic inheritance.

This may sound simple, but it’s anything but, especially if you don’t or can’t have a parent’s DNA tested. Phasing human DNA into parental sides has been a problem that scientists have been trying to solve for decades.

Ancestry has taken an enormous step forward in solving the problems surrounding phasing. SideView™ technology can phase all of a customer’s DNA using identity by descent (IBD), which identifies the identical DNA that two or more people share because of a recent common ancestor. The accurate DNA phasing means that customers can now know from which side of the family they received each of their ethnicities.

SideView™ technology is possible thanks to the size of the AncestryDNA database, which is the largest consumer genomic database in the world with more than 20 million customers and growing, and the scientific innovation and rigorous scientific standards that Ancestry has put in place. Due to the size of the AncestryDNA network, for 90% of customers SideView™ can group their matches into paternal and maternal lineages with 95% precision. SideView™ technology uses the grouped matches to organize a customer’s DNA and tell which parts were inherited from each parent.

Why does it matter?

While this scientific discovery is impressive, you’re probably asking yourself, “So what? Why is this important?”

Let’s say that you’ve taken a DNA test and found your ethnicity estimate. You know that your individual estimate has five ethnicities, which is great to know, but you don’t know from which parent you inherited each ethnicity. Typically, you’d have to have your parents take a DNA test to compare the results and solve the mystery. You could always ask your parents or grandparents if you know them, but it’s also possible that a formerly unknown ethnicity pops up in your results, in which case they may not be able to help you.

“SideView™ technology gives us a glimpse into the next level of DNA analysis for family history,” said Diahan Southard of Your DNA Guide. “The ability to more accurately assign our DNA to a parent opens up all kinds of avenues for future study. The ethnicity inheritance feature has provided insight into my parents’ ethnicity breakdowns that was just not possible before. I am excited to see what other DNA discoveries the SideView™ technology will bring.”

SideView™ takes the guessing out of ethnicity inheritance and gives you a more detailed look into your genetic histories. To learn more about this scientific innovation and how it can help you in your genealogy projects, visit Ancestry.com/DNA.

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