October 16, 2008

iGENEA wins an award

... the newly instituted Anthropology Blog award for Outstanding Achievement in Misleading the Public about Human Population Genetics.

I don't usually post about specific genetic testing companies unless they do something innovative, but I got two e-mails recently about a particular company, and I have to make an exception.

First of all, let me state that I have no reason to doubt that their genetic testing results (i.e., the actual Y-STR values) are accurate. What I do have a problem with is the copious amount of misleading information provided in their website (as of Oct 16, 2008). 

You will learn for example that there is no haplogroup N in Finland, that there is 30% R1b in Russia, 5% of haplogroup J in Armenia, but 10% in Germany. You will also be pleased to know that Y-chromosome haplogroup J is associated with the  Jews and mtDNA haplogroup H with the Vikings. But, wait, haplogroup I1a is associated with the Scythians [absent in most of Siberia and Central Asia but who cares about details], while mtDNA haplogroup H with the Teutons.

If you have time to kill, browse around the site, it is priceless as entertainment, and don't forget to stop by this thread where the company not only asserts that Y-chromosomes of ancient Greeks and Macedonians have been tested, pointing to completely irrelevant bibliography, as "evidence", but also lists the percentages of various ancient tribes in modern nations. Apparently, Bulgarians are 49% Thracian, while Albanians 18%, whereas Greeks and "Macedonians" 0%. Those Thracians must have evacuated from Greek Thrace and flown over Macedonia to settle in Albania :)

If you have any understanding of population genetics, no more needs to be said. 

But, if you are a newbie researching the field, spend some time to educate yourself, and don't trust companies that offer you the sky. If it's too good to be true, it probably isn't.


Unknown said...

igekea is a joke company.I had read some time ago in the german "Bild" newspaper (a gazette like the english "Sun") a "study" about the germans, where they was claiming that they haven some 15% phoenician genes! Yeah they called it that way! Later i saw that there was a cooperation between "Bild" and igekea.Making business with this newspaper means lack of reliability imo.Anyway just my 2 cents.

J said...

Commercial genealogy is not science.

Dean said...

AncestryByDNA now claims to have further refined intra-European ancestry testing with their Euro DNA 2.0 test. They claim that this new test has been based on sound scientific research with peer review.

The company states that different markers are used in the new test compared to Euro DNA 1.0. I would like to see how this shakes out with people who have taken both tests, to see if there is consistency in the results.

There is a blog where AncestryByDNA testers post their results:

stemi said...

So more indications about the credibility of iGenea:
The sum of the genes from FYROM is 110%:
Y-haplogroups in FYROM ( http://www.igenea.com/index.php?content=... )
I2A 39 %
E1B1B 26 %
R1A 20 %
J2 15 %
R1B 10 %

However, they have just withdrawn them. Maybe to manipulate it accordingly!

In one of their central pages have so many mistakes in the naming of the countries (see here: http://www.igenea.com/index.php?c=49a some names are Irland, Neederlands, Shottland LOL). What company is that? I am wondering there weren’t any customer from these countries indicating the errors. No a good image for the company indeed.

Anonymous said...

Good column as always, Dienekes.

Mitochondrial H is ~40K years old, from the Near East, almost pan-Eurasian -- and yet it's Teutonic/Viking?

I guess St. Luke is a misprint for "Loki."

Dienekes said...

'till Kingdom comes

Countries don't usually last that long in the Balkans. Give it a few more years, and they'll accept a compromise or the Albanians in FYROM will secede and the country will be split in two.