MyHeritage.com is the leading destination to discover, preserve and share your family history. Finds relatives based on shared DNA. With access to all the major record archives and the most internationally diverse collection of family trees, exciting discoveries are at the touch of a button.
We’re happy to share that as of this week, we have refreshed the data for the Theory of Family Relativity to provide you with new and updated theories that explain how you and your DNA Matches may be related. This much-anticipated update may provide you with answers about relationships that have baffled you, as well as offer new insights about your ancestors and family relationships.
The Theory of Family Relativity is a MyHeritage innovation that we released in February 2019, and that has proven to be a game-changer in the world of genetic genealogy. As one of the top features we’ve released in recent years, it immediately received praise from users around the world.
This feature scans billions of family tree profiles and historical records to craft detailed theories of how DNA Matches on MyHeritage may be related to each other. Since launching the feature in February, our DNA database has grown by leaps and bounds, our family trees have grown to number 45 million, existing trees have grown, and more historical records have been added to MyHeritage SuperSearch.
Here are some key facts and figures about the update:
The total number of theories has more than doubled (from 6,384,888 to 14,260,864)
The number of DNA Matches for which a theory was found has more than doubled (from 4,474,617 to 9,964,321)
Within each theory, there are often multiple paths that show different ways that we arrive at the same theory and provide supporting evidence to back up the theory. The number of paths found has more than doubled (from 51,887,021 to 115,106,944)
The number of MyHeritage users who have at least one theory has increased by 46.7%
All MyHeritage users who have taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded DNA results to MyHeritage may now receive new theories. This includes users who previously received theories, users for whom we didn’t find theories when the feature was first launched, and users who have taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded data from another testing company and received results since the release.
If we’ve found theories for you, you’ll see a banner about the Theory of Family Relativity at the top of your DNA Matches page. Click “View theories” to see all the theories we’ve found, old and new.
Theory of Family Relativity banner at the top of the DNA Matches page.
You will be able to easily distinguish between theories that were previously found and those that we’ve recently found thanks to the “NEW” badge that will appear next to the new theories just added.
“New” badge displayed in a DNA Match.
Theory of Family Relativity is a premium feature that requires a site subscription on MyHeritage (Premium, PremiumPlus, or Complete). Users who upload their raw DNA data from another testing service to MyHeritage and do not wish to purchase a subscription can pay a one-time fee of $29 per kit to unlock all advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage, including Theory of Family Relativity. Learn more about our subscription plans. Users without a subscription will still see all the theories that we found for them, but when they click on the theory to view the full details, some of the information will be hidden.
New notification system
A new notification system has been created to update MyHeritage users about new theories as they are discovered, one theory at a time. This email will be sent periodically, as of this week.
The Theory of Family Relativity can break down brick walls for users who are challenged by their DNA Matches and are struggling to figure out their exact connection and solve the mystery of how a particular match fits in their family tree.
We hope you will enjoy the current update that more than doubled the number of theories available and the new notification system. We are getting closer to an automated system that will update theories periodically and we will announce once that is in place.
Donald Wayne Robbins was born close to Father’s Day, on June 16, 1937. Sadly, he never met his biological daughter Karen and passed away years before her search for him began. He missed the chance to celebrate Father’s Day with her, but this Father’s Day, Karen is meeting her half-sister for the first time, and together they are celebrating Donald’s life and legacy.
Karen Sue Morris Wright from Kansas was raised by her mother and grew up not knowing anything about her biological father. A few months ago she decided to take the plunge, and took a MyHeritage DNA test, hoping to learn about her ethnicity and get more of an idea about her roots.
Karen in her twenties.
A few weeks later she received the surprising news that she had a DNA Match to a first cousin. She contacted the cousin and within a few hours, they determined her father’s identity. Unfortunately, she learned that her father, Donald Wayne Robbins, passed away in 1996.
Karen was blown away by her striking resemblance to Donald.
To her delight, she learned of a half-sister, Shannon Armbruster, living in Seattle. Karen and Shannon connected and bonded instantly.
Shannon and I strangely made an instant connection when we first talked. She knew she had a sister somewhere, but didn’t know my name or how to find me.
In addition, Karen has already visited one of her dad’s sisters, who lives in Placerville, California.
The Father’s Day Reunion
Both Karen and Shannon will fly to California today, Father’s Day 2019, to meet each other for the first time. Together they will visit their father’s grave in Westwood Hills Memorial Park, Placerville, California to pay tribute to his life and legacy.
Donald’s final resting place in Westwood Hills Memorial Park, Placerville, California.
Karen and Shannon are thrilled to have found each other and they’re eager to catch up on lost time. It’s so meaningful for them to be able to celebrate this Father’s Day, their late father’s birthday, together at last.
We’re excited to announce the launch of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test, which offers new dimensions of genetic insight to enrich your life, enlighten you about your health, and help you make informed lifestyle choices. As a major expansion of our DNA product line, the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test includes dozens of personalized and easy-to-understand health reports. It also includes all of the features of the current MyHeritage DNA test (to be referred to from now on as the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry-Only test), including matching to relatives based on shared DNA, ethnicity estimates, a chromosome browser, and others.
With the new Health + Ancestry test, you’ll learn how your genes can affect your health. Your results include reports for conditions caused by single genes, such as hereditary breast cancer, late-onset Alzheimer’s disease, and late-onset Parkinson’s disease; conditions caused by multiple variants, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and female breast cancer; and carrier status reports on conditions that can be passed down from a couple to their children, such as Tay-Sachs disease and cystic fibrosis. Altogether, the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test covers one of the most extensive ranges of conditions offered by an at-home DNA test, and we are working on adding many more conditions immediately following the launch and going forward.
To order your kit, visit the MyHeritage DNA website. You’ll be able to choose between the Ancestry-Only kit and the new Health + Ancestry kit.
MyHeritage DNA product line. The new health kit is shown on the right.
Powerful insights can motivate people to take a more proactive role in their healthcare management. With the launch of our new product, we hope to expand our mission from changing lives to saving lives.
Contents of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test kit
Learn more about the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test in this video.
Below we have listed some of the main benefits of the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test.
The MyHeritage Health + Ancestry test is the only major consumer health test that has been launched internationally and is available not only in English but in a large number of additional languages. MyHeritage is well-known for its international reach and for supporting 42 languages. This has helped make it the most popular DNA test in Europe. From day one, we are striving to make MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry the genetic test for health with the widest global reach. By testing a more diverse global audience, our science team will be able to gain knowledge to enhance the product in the future and to cover a wider range of health conditions that are relevant to diverse populations around the globe.
Genetic Risk Reports
At launch, we offer 14 genetic risk reports that explain an individual’s genetic risk for developing specific conditions. The reports also show the risk in the general population, for convenient comparison. The genetic risk reports include monogenic and polygenic conditions, which are described in detail further below. These conditions include heart disease, breast cancer, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, and others.
Our reports do not diagnose any health conditions or provide medical advice, and they do not determine whether you have or will develop any condition. The reports offer valuable information that you can share with your doctor so you can make choices about your health management, such as lifestyle changes, that may reduce your risk for certain conditions. The report for each condition includes sections on additional risk factors, more information about the condition, as well as details that explain the test methodology.
Carrier Status Reports
Carrier Status Reports provide insight on whether you are a carrier for certain hereditary conditions. If both parents are carriers for the same genetic condition, there is a 25% chance that their child could have the condition and a 50% chance that their child would not have the condition but would be a carrier. Carrier Status Reports are therefore important for family planning. They can also be useful at an older age, providing insight to the children of a parent who is a carrier, as they might also be carriers which would be helpful to know before they begin their own family planning. More detail about the Carrier Status Reports is provided further below.
Physician Oversight and Genetic Counseling; Questionnaire
In the United States, we work with an independent network of physicians called PWNHealth, which supervises this new service and provides clinical oversight.
As with our current genealogical DNA kit, activation is required to associate the kit with the individual who is taking the test. With the MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry kit, activation must be done by the user who took the DNA test and it includes an additional step: completing a personal and family health history questionnaire. This ensures that users receive the reports that are appropriate for them. In the United States, an independent physician will review each health history questionnaire, approve the processing of the test, and evaluate all health reports before they are released. When a report indicates an increased risk for a specific condition, the physician will further determine whether genetic counseling is advised. If genetic counseling is recommended, a phone or video consultation with a genetic counselor from PWNHealth is included at no additional cost.
In the United States, the physician oversight and genetic counseling is an important benefit of the MyHeritage DNA Ancestry + Health test. This ensures that users will not be on their own when interpreting the results, in cases where the results indicate increased risk and the physician considers genetic counseling to be essential. In other words, our test provides access to experts who can help people understand their results, which our major competitor does not provide.
Methodology and Technology
The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test is a Lab Developed Test and is processed in our CLIA-certified and CAP-accredited laboratory located in the United States.
This new product is based on robust scientific research conducted by the MyHeritage Science team led by MyHeritage’s Chief Science Officer, Dr. Yaniv Erlich. It has been in development for two years and leverages the company’s growing expertise in genomics. In the past year alone, the MyHeritage Science team has published two groundbreaking papers in the highly acclaimed academic journal Science.
DNA analysis for the Health + Ancestry test is based on a new DNA chip — Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA) — custom-designed by MyHeritage. In the design of the new DNA chip, we were able to balance the needs of genetic genealogy and health testing to create a single state-of-the-art chip with an appropriate selection of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). The new chip gives us the flexibility to efficiently introduce new health reports, while continuing to deliver excellent DNA matching for genetic genealogy, and ethnicity estimates (the resolution of which we are planning to improve soon). This will make MyHeritage a one-stop-shop for health and genealogy DNA testing for consumers worldwide.
We take extra steps to reduce the chance of reporting false positives: for conditions with significantly increased genetic risk, such as cancers, we double-check all pathogenic findings with Sanger sequencing, which is the gold standard in molecular testing.
The transition to the new GSA chip has caused an initial delay in supply by Illumina, and lab results were delayed during March, but we’re glad to update that in April we managed to overcome 99% of the backlog. Processing time in the lab is now back to the regular duration of 3–4 weeks, for both genealogy and health kits.
Privacy and Security
Your privacy is our top priority. MyHeritage health reports have been designed with enhanced layers of security and multiple levels of encryption. Every report is encrypted with a unique password that only the user knows, and MyHeritage avoids storing any of these passwords. All identifying information is stored separately from DNA data and health information. Even MyHeritage employees cannot access users’ health reports. Upon an explicit request from a user, for customer support purposes, a designated MyHeritage employee can re-generate a health report which both the designated employee and the customer can see, for a limited period. This technical support capability is limited to a tiny daily quota to prevent abuse. Other than the user who has taken a health test, no other users can ever view the health reports, including the person who buys a health test as a gift for someone else. In the United States, the physician network PWNHealth has access to a summarized version of the health reports in order to provide clinical oversight but has no access to the users’ accounts on MyHeritage nor any of the additional information stored within them.
You are the sole owner of your data and not MyHeritage. You can delete your data permanently at any time.
To date, MyHeritage has never sold or licensed personal data, and pledges never to do so in the future without the user’s explicit informed consent.
MyHeritage is the only consumer DNA company that has pledged to never sell data to insurance companies. This restriction covers all circumstances! MyHeritage has also adopted a strict policy that prohibits the use of our DNA services by law enforcement agencies.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s dive in and view the reports in more detail.
Genetic Risk Reports — more details
Genetic Risk Reports (click to zoom)
Genetic Risk Reports include reports for conditions caused by variants in a single gene (monogenic), as well as for common conditions that are caused by multiple variants across the genome (polygenic).
Most common conditions — those that afflict the largest number of people worldwide — are polygenic. This means that they are influenced by several hundred or even thousands of genetic variants — in addition to lifestyle and environmental factors.
MyHeritage is currently the only consumer DNA testing company to offer Polygenic Risk Reports for multiple conditions. These reports are based on a cutting-edge method called Polygenic Risk Scores, which examines hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of variants across the entire genome, rather than just a single genetic variant. This is helpful in providing an indication of genetic risk for some of the most prevalent health conditions worldwide, such as heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and breast cancer. Three Polygenic Risk Reports are included in the product at launch and more are being developed right now.
Among the Polygenic Risk Reports, MyHeritage provides a risk report for heart disease, also called cardiovascular disease. The inclusion of a Polygenic Risk Report for heart disease is unique to MyHeritage. According to the World Health Organization, heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, and it estimates that 17.9 million people die each year from some form of cardiovascular disease. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States. Approximately 610,000 people die of heart disease in the United States every year — that’s 1 in every 4 deaths. The MyHeritage DNA Health + Ancestry test provides an estimate of your genetic risk for heart disease, which you can then share with your doctor for more informed and personalized care.
Polygenic Risk Report for heart disease (click to zoom)
In addition to heart disease, the Health + Ancestry test includes a Polygenic Risk Score for type 2 diabetes, a condition that has significantly increased in prevalence in recent decades. Type 2 diabetes now affects hundreds of millions of people worldwide and is predicted to affect 40% of Americans within their lifetime.
MyHeritage is also unique among home DNA tests in providing a Polygenic Risk Score for breast cancer. This report provides a risk assessment for breast cancer for women who did not have a BRCA variant identified by their MyHeritage test. It is important to note that the MyHeritage test does not look for all possible BRCA variants.
More Polygenic Risk Reports will be added soon, following the initial release. The three initial Polygenic Risk Reports are based on studies of European populations, so they are only available for people who are mainly of European ancestry. We have begun conducting research to allow the polygenic reports to cover a broader spectrum of populations in the future.
Monogenic conditions are genetic conditions that are associated with a change in a single gene. Some of the monogenic conditions that we test for include hereditary BRCA cancers (for which we support more variants than our major competitor), hereditary thrombophilia, and Crohn’s disease. We also provide a genetic risk estimate for Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease, which are the two most common neurodegenerative disorders. One in every ten people aged 65 or older has Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s affects ten million patients worldwide. As both conditions are incurable, we give users the option to disable health reports for these conditions if they prefer not to know the results.
Genetic Risk Report for Late-onset Parkinson’s disease (click to zoom)
For each condition, you can read more in the additional tabs: “Other risk factors”, “About the condition”, and “Report details”.
“Other risk factors” tab — example for Parkinson’s disease (click to zoom)
“About the condition” tab (click to zoom)
“Report details” tab with test methodology and considerations (click to zoom)
Carrier Status Reports — more details
People who are carriers of a genetic disease may not even know it. Most carriers never develop any symptoms, but they can still pass on the variant — or the disease itself — to their children.
Carrier status reports are provided in a separate set of screens within the health reports.
Carrier Status Reports (click to zoom)
When planning a family, carrier testing is recommended so that you can be aware of the risks, if you and your partner are carriers for the same genetic condition.
For example, Tay-Sachs is a serious genetic disorder that results in the destruction of nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. Tay-Sachs can occur when both parents carry a pathogenic variant in the Tay-Sachs gene. If each parent passes the pathogenic variant on to their child, their child may develop Tay-Sachs disease. A person with only one pathogenic variant on the Tay-Sachs gene is healthy but is a carrier of the disease. The Carrier Status Report, as shown below, can inform you if you are likely to be a carrier for Tay-Sachs disease.
Back in February, Yvette Corporon visited Fox and Friends where she revealed to Griff Jenkins his MyHeritage DNA results live on air.
Yvette returned to the set of Fox and Friends to provide their new co-host, Jedediah Bila, with her ethnic breakdown and some interesting tidbits from her colorful family history.
Born in Brooklyn, New York, Jedediah was always cognizant of her Italian and Sicilian ancestry. All of her great-grandparents came from Italy and resided in Naples and Sicily before moving to the United States. Most of them eventually settled in Brooklyn. She always wondered if there were other pieces of her family’s past that she didn’t know about.
Fox and Friends’ Jedediah Bila’s Family History Revealed - YouTube
In addition to her strong South European origins (69.4%), Jedediah has strong roots in West Asia (19.1%), North Africa (6% ) and the Middle East (4.7%). It’s very common for people from Southern Italy to also have Asian, North African, and Middle Eastern roots, as they are descended from the same groups of migrating tribes. This ethnic diversity is representative of historical migration patterns in the region and the people who settled in the area.
Jedediah has over 150 DNA Matches from across the U.S. and Europe, including some very high matches with first and second cousins!
Jedediah’s great-grandfather, Pasquale Mazza, was born in Castellammare di Stabia, which is situated on the Bay of Naples. He immigrated to the U.S. and is listed in the 1910 census as a metal worker in a hardware factory. At the time, Pasquale was living at 143 Wooster Street, New Haven, Connecticut, which was the “Little Italy” of New Haven.
Starting in the late 19th century, a wave of immigration from Southern Italy brought thousands of Italian immigrants to New Haven. Many lived around Wooster Square. The hardware factory, New Haven Works of Sargent & Co. even went to Italy to recruit employees!
The New Haven Works of Sargent & Co. is still around today.
We followed Pasquale and located his WWI draft record from 1917. He is listed as a milling machine worker, living at 199 Wallace Street, still in Little Italy. From the description, we can see that he was blind in one eye.
Another of Jedediah’s great-grandfathers, Salvatore Ruscitto (1888–1955), was born on the island of Ponza, which the largest island of the Pontine Islands archipelago, off the west coast of Italy.
He immigrated to the U.S. in 1910 and married Mary, who was born in the U.S. to Italian parents. His marriage to Mary, who was 11 years his junior, was his second marriage. The first time hew as married he was only 15 years old. Salvatore and Mary lived in Kings County, Brooklyn.
In the 1920 U.S. Census, Mary is marked as an “alien”, as is her husband. Back then, an American woman who married a foreigner automatically lost her American citizenship, whereas an American man who married a foreigner could pass on citizenship to his new wife.
Salvatore Ruscitto in the 1920 United States Federal Census (Click to zoom).
Salvatore couldn’t read, write, or speak English, but Mary could.
On her father’s side, Jedediah’s great-grandparents, Antonio and Isabella Bila, were both born in Southern Italy. In the 1920 U.S. Census, they are listed with their 2 children, Ignatius (Jedediah’s grandfather) and Rose. They also lived in Brooklyn where Antonio was a barber in a barbershop.
As they acclimated to life in the U.S., they became more American. On his World War I Draft Registration Card, Antonio is listed as Anthony.
Twenty years later, in the 1940 census, the family owned their own house in Brooklyn, and their names had become even more Americanized. Anthony was now Tony, and his son Ignatius (Jedediah’s grandfather) was now “Jack,” and working as a printer in a printing shop.
Home of Jedediah’s great-grandparents, Antonio and Isabella Bila, 1098 Belmont Avenue, Kings, New York.
Jedediah’s other paternal great-grandparents, Vincenzo and Theresa Granata, were both born in Italy. At the time of the 1940 census, they were living with their 3 children in Queens, New York. Vincent was a glazier and owned his own house. Theresa was an operator in a blouse factory, and their daughter Frances (Jedediah’s grandmother) was a typist at Mortgage Co.
Jedediah loved learning more about her family history. She always believed she was mainly Italian and was shocked to discover that she has such a diverse background.
She was also able to relate to her past on a different level after gaining insights into the lives of her great-grandparents — with tales of a complicated love story on one side, and the classic American dream on the other.
Order your own MyHeritage DNA kit today to discover your family history.
We’re excited to announce a new partnership with the Backstreet Boys! The band was formed over 25 years ago — They’ve been together for so long that they’re practically family!
Each band member took a MyHeritage DNA test to learn more about their origins, and they are eagerly awaiting their results. This video follows AJ, Howie, Nick, Kevin, and Brian as they open their MyHeritage DNA kits and swab their cheeks:
BSB Explores Their DNA with MyHeritage - YouTube
Stay tuned for their full MyHeritage results, which are coming soon!
Since the beginning of March 2019, our customers have experienced delays in the processing of their MyHeritage DNA tests and the arrival of their DNA results due to our upgrade to a new and more advanced DNA chip. DNA test processing at MyHeritage is closely monitored from start to finish and we take delays very seriously. We’d like to explain what caused this unexpected delay and update our customers on the current status.
The chips that we use for reading DNA samples in our lab and converting them to digital data are developed by Illumina, a company considered to be the “Intel” of DNA processing. These chips are produced with very sophisticated technology. They are not electronic chips but are made of glass slides harboring millions of tiny beads. Each bead is coated with synthetically generated DNA strands of about 50 nucleotides each that serve as probes. When the DNA of a customer is placed on a chip, it binds with the probes and generates an optical signal that is read by laser using lab devices produced by Illumina. This is a simplistic description of what goes on behind the scenes at the lab. For a more complete picture you are welcome to view our lab video.
Until recently, MyHeritage DNA tests were processed using Illumina’s Omni chip. To provide our customers with a more robust and powerful analysis, we decided to upgrade to a new and more advanced custom-designed version, based on Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA) chip. The process of designing the content of the new chip and working with Illumina for them to manufacture it for us took more than a year.
Unfortunately, Illumina ran out of the Omni chip supply before ensuring the timely delivery of the new GSA chip to our lab. In addition, our DNA kit sales far exceeded our forecasts, and we had no stock of chips left to compensate for the delay in Illumina’s delivery of the new GSA chip. Illumina no longer had the capability to produce more Omni chips, and we did not want to lose much more time by switching to another chip maker. This rendered us unable to process the thousands of kits that arrive at our lab daily, and deliver results on time, for a period of more than a month.
Once we received the new GSA chips, we ran multiple tests to ensure that they meet our high standards, and then worked around the clock to process the backlog of kits. We sent an apology email to the affected customers informing them of the delay and provided them with an estimated time frame for receiving their results. The biggest delay was with samples that arrived at the lab during January and February, which were almost ready to get their results, when the chips ran out. The good news is that we have almost entirely succeeded in processing that backlog. In April, up till now, we have already processed more than 90% of the delayed samples and provided their results to our customers. Unfortunately, 10% of these delayed samples are still waiting on the results and they will be handled soon. Based on information from the lab, the majority of the remaining delayed samples will complete processing within the next 3 days, and the rest (a few thousand) will take up to 2 weeks longer.
Except during peak periods following Christmas sales, processing in the lab normally takes 3–4 weeks from the moment the lab receives a sample. This is the processing schedule we have delivered in 2017 and 2018 and we’ll soon be able to return to that schedule.
Samples that arrived at the lab during March 2019 have been queued behind the delayed samples from January and February, and most of them will be processed in 5–6 weeks from arrival at the lab. Samples that arrive in April will take 4–6 weeks, and samples that will arrive at the lab from May onwards should take the standard 3–4 weeks. After this, we do not expect any further delays. On a positive note, we do anticipate improved DNA results with our new chip.
We sincerely apologize for the delays and we thank our customers for their continued patience and support.
We’re excited to introduce AutoClusters — a new genetic genealogy tool that groups together DNA Matches that likely descend from common ancestors in a compelling visual chart. This easy-to-use tool helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as numerous individuals, and gain insights about branches in your family tree.
An example AutoClusters chart (Click to zoom)
In recent years, millions of people are turning to DNA testing to gain insights into their family history and to discover new relatives. While DNA testing does provide answers, typical DNA Matching results include only estimated relationships, such as 3rd cousin, with no indication of the exact relationship path. In some cases, MyHeritage is able to use historical records and family trees to suggest the exact relationship path (see Theory of Family Relativity feature we just released this week) but this is not always possible. That’s where the new AutoClusters tool comes in handy!
AutoClusters organizes your MyHeritage DNA Matches into shared match clusters that likely descended from common ancestors. By grouping together DNA Matches who likely belong to the same branch and have a common ancestor, AutoClusters can be very helpful in shedding light on the relationship paths that connect you and your matches. By reviewing family trees of clustered matches, users can piece together the entire branch. Clusters are color-coded for convenience and are presented in a powerful visual chart, as well as in list format.
This new tool was developed in collaboration with Evert-Jan Blom of GeneticAffairs.com, based on technology that he created, further enhanced by the MyHeritage team. Our enhancements include better clustering of endogamous populations (people who lived in isolated communities with a high rate of intermarriages, such as Ashkenazi Jews and Acadians), and automatic threshold selection for optimal clustering so that users need not experiment with any parameters.
MyHeritage is thrilled to be the first major DNA service to offer automatic clustering technology to its users.
More About the AutoClusters chart
Each of the colored cells in a cluster represents an intersection between two of your matches, meaning that both individuals match each other (in addition to matching you). These cells are grouped together physically and by color to create a powerful visual chart of your shared match clusters.
Each color represents one shared match cluster. Members of a cluster match you and most or all of the other cluster members. Every individual in a cluster will likely be on the same ancestral line, although the most recent common ancestor between any of the matches and between you and any match may vary. The generational level of the clusters may vary as well. One may be your paternal grandmother’s branch, and another may be your paternal great-grandfather’s branch.
You may see several gray cells that do not belong to any color-grouped cluster. They sometimes represent a shared match where one of the two cousins is too closely related to you to belong to just one cluster. A bunch of adjacent gray cells can be an indication that two clusters are related to each other.
A cluster (Click to zoom)
Below the chart, all clusters are displayed in list format.
The clusters in list format (Click to zoom)
In the list, for each cluster, you can conveniently view the family trees of your DNA Matches or access each DNA Match in order to contact that person. In a future version, we plan to include for each cluster the ancestral surnames and ancestral places that are shared the most by the cluster members. This can provide more clues as to the identity of the common ancestors of the cluster.
You can explore clusters of interest by viewing the family trees of its members and try to identify it. This can lead to new revelations about some of your own ancestors that you are currently unfamiliar with.
Access AutoClusters by clicking the new entry “DNA Tools” in the DNA menu.
Accessing the new DNA Tools section (Click to zoom)
The new Tools page is the place where we are bringing together advanced tools such as the Chromosome Browser and the new AutoClusters tool. It is also available as a tab named “Tools” next to your DNA Matches and Ethnicity Estimate.
On the Tools page, click “Explore” on the AutoClusters card.
New DNA Tools section (Click to zoom)
You’ll arrive at the AutoClusters page. Simply click “Generate” to create your AutoClusters. If you are managing DNA kits for more than one person, select a DNA kit first for which you want to generate AutoClusters.
The AutoClusters page (Click to zoom)
Depending on user demand, generating AutoClusters can take anywhere between a few minutes to several hours.
Once we generate your clusters and they are ready for viewing, you will receive an email with an attached zip file with your clusters. This is the implementation for our initial release. In the future, we are planning to embed the clusters inside the MyHeritage user interface, and integrate them more tightly with your matches.
In the email, the zip file will include three files: an HTML file that contains a visual chart of the AutoClusters analysis, a CSV file that contains a spreadsheet version of the AutoClusters analysis, and a ReadMe.pdf file with some helpful information on AutoClusters that also describes the parameters we selected automatically for generating it.
For optimal viewing, save the files to your hard drive, extract the contents, and then open them.
Note that you can currently generate only one AutoClusters analysis per day for each DNA kit that you manage. This is a protection against excessive load.
Settings used for the AutoClusters analysis
To generate your AutoClusters, we analyze your highest-quality matches and divide them up into the color-coded clusters. We automatically select optimal threshold parameters (such as minimum and maximum shared DNA in cM, and minimum shared DNA for shared matches), in order to yield the best clusters for your specific DNA kit.
We’ll let you know the parameters we selected by listing them in the HTML file and in the ReadMe.pdf file.
AutoClusters is a premium feature that requires a site subscription on MyHeritage (Premium, PremiumPlus or Complete). Users who upload their raw DNA data from another testing service to MyHeritage and do not wish to purchase a subscription can pay a one-time fee of $29 per kit to unlock all advanced DNA features offered by MyHeritage, including AutoClusters. Learn more about our subscription plans here.
The AutoClusters feature works best if you test additional family members. For example, if you test your parent’s cousin, the cluster that he or she will appear in will implicate all the other DNA Matches in that cluster as being from the same branch of the family. If you have family members who have not yet taken a DNA test, especially elderly ones, this is a great time to expand your capacity to make new family history discoveries through MyHeritage DNA. Order more DNA kits today.
The new AutoClusters tool uses cutting-edge technology to make DNA Matching even more useful. It helps you explore your DNA Matches more efficiently in groups rather than as individuals, and determine common ancestors with your DNA Matches. It is based purely on DNA results without involving family trees or records, and it augments the Theory of Family Relativity feature that we released yesterday.
Genetic genealogy is an exciting field that is constantly evolving with new and innovative technologies. We’re proud to be at the forefront of this revolution!
We’re excited to introduce a new feature, which is a total game-changer in genetic genealogy — the Theory of Family Relativity. This unprecedented feature helps you make the most of your DNA Matches by incorporating genealogical information from all our collections of nearly 10 billion historical records and family tree profiles, to offer theories on how you and your DNA Matches might be related. If you’ve taken a MyHeritage DNA test or uploaded your DNA results to MyHeritage, this revolutionary technology may offer astounding new information on your family connections.
Powerful Theory of Family Relativity example suggesting a relationship path for a DNA Match, traversing trees from MyHeritage, Geni and FamilySearch, and a Canadian Census record! (Click to zoom)
Until now, family history enthusiasts used two distinct domains for making discoveries: the paper-trail world of historical records and family trees, and the biological world of DNA connections. When you received DNA Matches, it was often not clear how exactly the match is related to you and who your common ancestor may be. The “holy grail” of genetic genealogy is receiving DNA Matches where you know the full relationship path between you and each DNA Match and can add new information to your tree based on that.
We have introduced multiple features that enhance DNA Matches with the goal of achieving this, such as Shared Smart Matches, Shared Ancestral Surnames, or Shared Ancestral Places. Power tools such as the Chromosome Browser also offer additional clues. While these features are extremely useful, and can sometimes help you identify the relationship path to your DNA Matches and the common ancestors, most people still hit brick walls with DNA Matches where they cannot figure out the exact connection and how the DNA Match fits in their family tree. Moreover, up until now, the information we presented was based solely on your family tree and your DNA Match’s family tree. This meant that you only had whatever information you and they had entered to go on, and most often, the common ancestors do not appear in either your or your match’s family tree. With the release of the Theory of Family Relativity, we have bridged the gap between DNA Matches and historical records and integrated both worlds seamlessly. The “holy grail” has been found!
Through this new feature, we provide you with leads explaining the relationship between your matches based on our entire collection of family trees and historical records, removing the guesswork, and saving you hours of research time. You can then examine the theories and the information associated with them and verify their correctness.
By collecting all available sources of information on MyHeritage, and harnessing the complete power of them collectively, we can unlock mysteries that were never solved before.
How does it work?
The Theory of Family Relativity is based on a big data graph that connects billions of data points drawn from thousands of databases on MyHeritage, in real time. We call it internally the “Big Tree”. Every node on this graph represents a person, and every edge depicts a blood relationship between two individuals that is described in a family tree or a historical record; or a match between two tree profiles that are likely to be the same person; or two records that are likely to be about the same person.
MyHeritage’s industry-leading matching technologies establish these connections between people and records. MyHeritage engineers and algorithm experts have developed a unique approach that allows the “Big Tree” to compute all paths between millions of blood relatives instantly. The Theory of Family Relativity draws upon this resource to construct the most plausible theories explaining how pairs of people linked by a DNA Match on MyHeritage are related, using family trees and historical records. The “Big Tree” is not static, so it never grows stale as users add or delete new information, or reject certain matches that they consider incorrect. Instead, we compute it quickly whenever we want, generating a fresh view of the world that gets larger and more accurate all the time. The “Big Tree” is unique in that it encompasses all family trees on MyHeritage and the huge collaborative trees of Geni and FamilySearch that are replicated to MyHeritage.
The number of theories you may get depends on several factors, such as the size and level of detail in your family tree (the more the better). This number will increase over time as more users test their DNA on MyHeritage or upload their DNA result, and as we continue to add more historical records and as family trees continue to grow.
It is important to keep in mind that this revolutionary feature produces theories that are just that — theories. They are based on a lot of information provided by other users who may introduce mistakes in family trees as well as matches between tree profiles and records that may be inaccurate. We strongly suggest that you review the theories in depth and judge for yourself whether each one is accurate and decide how to best proceed further with your genealogical research. Verifying everything is a best practice that every good genealogist should do regarding all clues and evidence. Remember that theories can be very helpful, but they are not always correct.
Using the Theory of Family Relativity
Theories will usually be found for some of your DNA Matches.
Visit your DNA Matches to see them. During the introductory period of this feature, a banner, shown below, will be displayed at the top of your DNA Match list telling you if you have theories. Click the button on this banner to conveniently view all your DNA Matches that have theories.
Whenever a DNA Match has a theory, this is also indicated in the DNA Match card, as shown below.
DNA Match with a theory (Click to zoom)
When the estimated relationship (according to the shared DNA) is a wide range, with no clear indication of the true relationship, the theory will assist in narrowing down the relationship. You can compare the relationship suggested by the theory to the relationship suggested by the DNA to see if they are compatible.
Click “View theory” on the card will display the full theory, including the complete relationship path. Alternatively, you can start with a summarized view of the theory which is presented in the Review DNA Match page.
Summarized theory view in the Review DNA Match page (Click to zoom)
When more than one theory is available, this means that we have identified several theories with different relationships between you and the DNA Match. This can happen when people in the family have married within the family in earlier generations. In these situations, you can choose which theory to view by choosing from the drop-down menu.
Switching between multiple theories (Click to zoom)
In summarized theory view, move the mouse over any individual to see additional information.
Click “View full theory” to see a more detailed view that shows which family trees and historical records were used to establish the theory.
Viewing a full theory (Click to zoom)
Viewing a full theory is a unique capability where MyHeritage’s new technology really shines. Its importance is in that it allows you to see how MyHeritage established the relationship path and which sources of information were used along the way.
The top of the Full Theory page shows the estimated relationship (by the DNA) and the relationship suggested by the Theory of Family Relativity. If more than one theory was found, as mentioned above, you can switch between them.
Viewing a full theory (Click to zoom)
Theories always begin in your tree and end in the family tree of your DNA Match. The traversal of the path may include other family trees on MyHeritage, Geni, FamilySearch or historical records.
Every time you see a horizontal “hop”, this means the theory is using a match to continue from one source to the next. Each Smart Match or Record Match is graded with a confidence level in percent, based on the quality of the match. The higher the score, the better the match is. Smart Matches and Record Matches that were rejected are never used in theories and we also require a very high minimum confidence for every match along the way, to ensure that theories you see are in very high quality. The lowest confidence among the matches, is considered the confidence score for the entire theory (and is displayed at the top of the page).
Within each theory, there are often multiple paths, showing different ways that we arrive at the same theory and providing more evidence to support it. All paths still culminate in the same summarized theory, but differ in the sources used along the way. For example, one path may start in your family tree and end immediately in the DNA Match’s family tree: such a short path, if exists, will always be offered first. There may be other paths among the same relatives that follow other trees or other historical records. Clicking any path number to view it.
Switching between multiple paths for a theory (Click to zoom)
The green icon represents a Smart Match between two trees on MyHeritage.
Smart Match found within a theory (Click to zoom)
The brown icon represents a Record Match. These are matches with historical records.
Side comment: there is something a bit confusing here because matches with trees on Geni and FamilySearch are currently considered as Record Matches because they are not trees on MyHeritage (although they are family trees and not records). In the future, we will probably reclassify such matches as Smart Matches and we might even rename “Smart Matches” to “Tree Matches” one day.
Click on a match icon (green or brown) to see a convenient side-by-side comparison of the information that exists for that individual in the two sources. Using this information you can determine for yourself whether the match is accurate.
Reviewing a match within a theory (Click to zoom)
In the example above, the Smart Match looks accurate so it is safe to rely on it.
There is more to a theory than meets the eye. Moving the mouse over any item in a theory opens a tooltip with more information about it. For example, you can move the mouse over the name of a tree owner in order to get access to buttons for contacting that person or viewing the tree. Moving the mouse over a collection name or a historical record opens a tooltip with buttons that allow you to search it, and so on.
Example of two theories for the same DNA Match, due to two half-brothers marrying two first cousins (Click to zoom)
There is an easy way to see all the theories you have.
You can now filter your DNA Matches to see only those matches that have a Theory of Family Relativity. Do this by clicking the “Filter” toolbar, select “Tree details” and then click on the “Has Theory of Family Relativity” option. This is available in addition to the previous filtering options that show you which of your matches share places, ancestral surnames and other Smart Matches with you.
Filtering DNA Matches to see all matches that have a theory (Click to zoom)
Another theory example (Click to zoom)
What to do if a theory seems correct
If you have a theory that looks good to you, congratulations! It tells you how you are related to a DNA Match, and you can view the full theory and add the people and information that are currently not in your tree, to your tree. In this first release, we did not provide a way to do that automatically, i.e. to add a branch to your tree in one click, but we may allow that in the future if there is enough demand for it. For now, add new information manually to your tree, like a good ol’ genealogist.
What to do if a theory is wrong
Currently, it is not possible to confirm or reject a theory. Perhaps we’ll add that functionality later on.
If you consider a theory as incorrect because of a wrong Smart Match in your tree, you can easily reject that Smart Match in the Smart Matches section of the website (accessible from the menu at Discoveries>Matches by People). This will cause the bad theory to disappear.
If you spot a wrong theory because of a mistake that another user made in their tree, please consider being a good genealogy citizen by contacting the tree owner where you spotted this mistake and letting them know what you think is wrong. Once they fix it, it will repair the theory or eliminate it altogether.
If a theory is incorrect due to a match and that match is not in your tree, you can let the tree owner know about it so they will reject that match. Or you can simply ignore any theory that you consider as incorrect.
There are almost no privacy concerns with this new feature, because when traversing a theory, MyHeritage will automatically privatize the details of living people outside of your tree. Most theories do not include any living people (besides you and the DNA Match whose details are visible anyway), because theories only traverse through ancestors to find a blood relationship, they never go down to younger generations, so they very quickly reach previous decades and centuries in the realm of deceased ancestors.
Users who do not wish to see any theories or to have their family tree participate in theories suggested to other users can use the privacy settings to opt out of this (by disabling Smart Matches for their tree and its inclusion in SuperSearch and making sure that their site is not visible to guests). This is possible, but not recommended, as it will prevent them from receiving Smart Matches and other benefits.
If you’ve done a DNA test before on another service, uploading your DNA data to MyHeritage can help you break down genealogical brick walls and uncover new relatives. Genetic genealogists call this “fishing in another pond” for DNA Matches, to benefit from the opportunity to be matched with the huge base of customers who have tested their DNA exclusively on MyHeritage. As we announced previously, starting today, December 16, 2018, users can upload their raw DNA data from other testing services for free, and they will still receive all DNA Matches for free, but unlocking extra features for uploaded DNA data will cost an extra fee.
If you have already uploaded your raw DNA data to MyHeritage from another testing service prior to December 16, 2018, you are grandfathered in and will continue to enjoy access to all of the extra DNA features for free.
Below are the extra DNA features that you will benefit from when you “Unlock” an uploaded kit:
Here is a more detailed description of the DNA features and whether they will remain free, or whether the unlock fee will be required:
DNA uploads made BEFORE Dec 16, 2018
DNA uploads made on or AFTER Dec 16, 2018
MyHeritage DNA kits (non-uploads)
Receiving DNA Matches
Matches with other people who share DNA with you — your relatives through a common ancestor — in our huge database that is about twice the size of GEDmatch + Genesis combined.
Exporting DNA Matches
Export a list of your DNA Matches.
Contacting DNA Matches
Contact your DNA Matches for collaboration.
Shared ancestral surnames
A list of Common ancestral surnames for every DNA Match.
A percentage breakdown of ethnic origins from 42 supported ethnicity regions.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
A tool that maps chromosomes graphically and allows you to visualize the DNA segments shared by two sides of a DNA Match.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
Trees of DNA Matches
View family trees and pedigree charts of your DNA Matches.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
Shared DNA Matches
A list of the relatives shared in common between the two sides of a DNA Match.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
The regions where you and your DNA Match may have common ancestral origins.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
Shared ancestral places
The places shared in common by both sides of a DNA Match, where ancestral events such as births and deaths took place.
Subscription or Unlock Fee
Clarification: a single fee unlocks all the features for a kit, there is no need to pay multiple times for the same kit.
How do I upload my DNA data?
Instructions for exporting your data from another service and uploading it to MyHeritage are provided on our DNA upload page. We support DNA files from Ancestry, Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder, 23andMe (all versions, including v5) and Living DNA.
We have good news for MyHeritage subscribers who already have a Premium, PremiumPlus or Complete Subscription – all of you do NOT have to pay anything to unlock the extra features for uploaded DNA kits. If you are not a subscriber yet and have multiple DNA kits to upload, consider upgrading your MyHeritage account to a subscription to take advantage of the extra DNA features for as many uploaded kits as you’d like at no additional cost; You will also benefit from the subscription itself, for example with Complete you’ll gain full access to the billions of historical records on MyHeritage and to many other power features.
For those without a subscription, MyHeritage will charge a one-time fee to unlock all the extra DNA features. This fee will be charged per uploaded kit. When you upload DNA data, you will not be charged automatically! Uploading DNA data remains free, and at any time later you can opt-in if you wish, unlock the extra features and make a payment manually.
For a few days, starting on December 16, 2018, we will be testing different price points for the one-time fee, and different users may notice different prices. This will be finalized within a few days and then we will update this blog post to indicate the final fee.