23andme vs. Ances­trydna. What’s the dif­fer­ence?

WHAT’S THE DIF­FER­ENCE?

PCWorld (USA) - - Contents - IT DE­PENDS ON WHAT YOU’RE AF­TER. BY DIETER HOL­GER

Ances­trydna and 23andme are the world’s most pop­u­lar DNA tests. Com­bined, the com­pa­nies have tested the DNA of more than 15 mil­lion peo­ple, ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional So­ci­ety of Ge­netic Ge­neal­ogy ( go. pcworld.com/isgg).

They also both cost $99, un­less you elect for 23andme’s $199 An­ces­try + Health ser­vice to get info on po­ten­tial health risks and ge­netic traits in ad­di­tion to an­ces­try. So what’s the dif­fer­ence? We took both tests to find out. You can read our full re­views of Ances­trydna ( go.pcworld. com/adna) and 23andme ( go.pcworld. com/23me), but be­low we break down the pri­mary dif­fer­ences be­tween the two kits.

THEY TEST DIF­FER­ENT PARTS OF YOUR DNA

For one, Ances­trydna only tests your au­to­so­mal DNA, while 23andme tests your au­to­so­mal DNA, your MTDNA, and your YDNA (if you’re male).

Au­to­so­mal tests are the most com­mon DNA tests. They look at DNA in­her­ited from both sides of your fam­ily and com­pare it to other sam­ples to de­ter­mine your eth­nic­ity. Au­to­so­mal DNA tests also re­veal fam­ily re­la­tions up to seven gen­er­a­tions—or 210 years—with up to 95 per­cent ac­cu­racy.

On the other hand, MTDNA comes from your mother and YDNA from your fa­ther— how­ever, only men can have their YDNA tested. These types of DNA re­veal the lin­eage, known as a hap­logroup, that you de­scend from on your mother’s or fa­ther’s side. 23andme uses this in­for­ma­tion to tell you about your an­ces­tors tens of thou­sands of years ago and their mi­gra­tion pat­terns.

THEY GIVE DIF­FER­ENT RE­SULTS

Be­cause of the afore­men­tioned dif­fer­ent kinds of DNA the tests ex­am­ine, the re­sults you get also dif­fer. Ances­trydna just pro­vides an eth­nic break­down of your DNA through an in­ter­ac­tive map, while 23andme

does this and much more.

The re­sults from 23andme are more var­ied and in­for­ma­tive than Ances­trydna. For in­stance, I learned that I was de­scended from “Ötzi the Ice Man,” who was ap­par­ently killed by an arrow 5,300 years ago in the Alps. You also see your an­ces­tors’ mi­gra­tion pat­terns and even how many Ne­an­derthal vari­ants you carry in your DNA.

Visu­al­iza­tions from 23andme were also far more in­ter­est­ing. While Ances­trydna just pro­vides you with a map, 23andme goes above and be­yond with unique of­fer­ings like Your An­ces­try Time­line and Your Chro­mo­some Paint­ing. In short, you get a lot more with 23andme.

THEY REP­RE­SENT A DIF­FER­ENT NUM­BER OF ETH­NIC RE­GIONS

Both tests of­fer hun­dreds of eth­nic re­gions to match your DNA against. But as of this writ­ing, Ances­trydna pro­vides 499 re­gions com­pared to 23andme’s 171. That’s 328 more re­gions.

This is partly thanks to the 169 re­gions Ances­trydna of­fers on Euro­pean mi­gra­tions into the Amer­i­cas, Africa, and else­where. 23andme doesn’t trace the DNA of

Euro­pean set­tlers yet.

Peo­ple of Euro­pean de­scent also have a dis­pro­por­tion­ately high num­ber of re­gions in both tests com­pared to other eth­nic groups. Seventy-four per­cent of Ances­trydna’s re­gions are Euro­pean com­pared to 23andme’s 30 per­cent.

Read our in-depth fea­ture on why DNA tests are more de­tailed for white peo­ple to learn more ( go.pcworld.com/dtst). In short, it’s be­cause most of their cus­tomers are of Euro­pean de­scent.

The com­pa­nies are reg­u­larly up­dat­ing their eth­nic break­downs as new data come in, so ex­pect more re­gions to ap­pear with time.

THEY HAVE DIFFERENTSIZED DNA MATCH­MAK­ING DATA­BASES

Both Ances­trydna and 23andme have a DNA match­mak­ing ser­vice, where you can learn about, and make con­tact with, ge­netic rel­a­tives. But Ances­trydna has tested the DNA of more than 10 mil­lion peo­ple, com­pared to 23andme’s more than 5 mil­lion tests.

That means you have a far higher chance of match­ing with a rel­a­tive on Ances­trydna than 23andme. You can also en­hance your search even fur­ther by sign­ing up for ac­cess to An­ces­try.com’s ex­ten­sive ge­nealog­i­cal records, start­ing at $19.99 a month. An­ces­try.com has amassed more than 11 bil­lion records to cre­ate mil­lions of fam­ily trees, based on mar­riage and death cer­tifi­cates, im­mi­gra­tion dates, and mil­i­tary records.

It should also be noted that the more peo­ple in a DNA data­base, the more ac­cu­rate the test re­sults be­come. More DNA data al­lows these com­pa­nies to per­fect the al­go­rithms used in cre­at­ing eth­nic­ity es­ti­mates.

WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR ME?

Like most things in life, it de­pends on what you want to get out of the ex­pe­ri­ence. If you’re look­ing for ge­nealog­i­cal in­for­ma­tion and want to find rel­a­tives, then Ances­trydna is the way to go, just by virtue of it hav­ing a much larger data­base.

Still, 23andme’s 5 mil­lion users is sub­stan­tial, and the ser­vice ex­cels by pro­vid­ing a lot more de­tail about your DNA than just your eth­nic­ity es­ti­mate since it tests more of your DNA. It’s also far more ed­u­ca­tional than Ances­trydna, which ba­si­cally just shows you an eth­nic­ity map and matches you with peo­ple. For those rea­sons it seems like a bet­ter value.

Both tests are reg­u­larly re­fin­ing their data and al­go­rithms to im­prove the re­sults. Over time, you can ex­pect to re­ceive no­ti­fi­ca­tions when ei­ther ser­vice has im­proved its eth­nic­ity es­ti­mate.

IM­AGE: PESHKOV/GETTY IMAGES

Here are all the Ne­an­derthal traits 23andme can iden­tify

23andme’s fas­ci­nat­ing an­ces­try time-line vi­su­al­iza­tion.

The map of my eth­nic­ity break­down from Ances­trydna.

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