Tuesday, 13 March 2018

DNA Matches by Testing Company (updated)

The Black Friday to New Year sales on autosomal DNA testing kits certainly resulted in a large increase in the sale of DNA tests and a corresponding increase in the number of DNA matches reported, but at least in my case, this did not result in the hoped for increase in the number of matches which can be confirmed by paper research.

The two charts below show the quantity of matches for my wife and I by testing company in November 2017 and then in March 2018 - approximately 4 months.

2017-11-07 DNA Matches by Testing Company

2018-03-10 DNA Matches by Testing Company
 My matches on AncestryDNA and FamilyTreeDNA increased by 34% and 18% respectively, while Marlene's matches increased by only 21% and 12% respectively.  As my ancestry in non-North American and Marlene's ancestry is initially North American, this may indicate that the North American market for DNA tests is maturing while the foreign market continues to grow.

23andMe only shows the top 1200 or so matches for each kit, so their quantity of identified matches has not increased (it actually decreased) despite an increase in the number of people tested.

MyHeritageDNA shows a phenomenal increase in the quantity of matches, but this has more to do with changes in how MyHeritage identifies matches and a reduced threshold in the amount of shared DNA required to become a match, rather than a huge increase in the number of people tested.

Despite the large increase in the number of matches, the quantity of matches verifiable through paper research has only increased by 13% for me and 4% for Marlene - a disappointing result!  The  primary reasons for this are -

  • Lack of response to messages to new matches
  • Absence of online family trees by new matches

AncestryDNA identifies a suggested relationship for each match, and overall I have only been able to confirm (through paper research) less than 0.1% of our identified matches. 

2018-03-10 AncestryDNA Matches by Relationship
I have had no problem confirming 100% of my 2nd and 3rd cousin matches, but beyond 3rd cousins it is much more difficult to confirm the matches.  For me, this is likely due to our common ancestor being born prior to 1800 which is beyond the timeframe of Irish parish records, making it more difficult to confirm. 

Marlene has only been 50% successful in confirming her 2nd and 3rd cousin matches.  Perhaps this indicates an adoption, or perhaps a non-paternal event.  Only time will tell.

Meanwhile, I will continue my weekly ritual of checking new matches on all of the testing company sites, and continue trying to get unconfirmed matches to respond to my messages.