Ancestry Publishes New Genetic Research on U.S. Population Structures in Nature Communications

Ancestry Publishes New Genetic Research on U.S. Population Structures in Nature Communications

DNA and genealogical information from more than 700,000 AncestryDNA users gives new insight into historical events in North America during the last several hundred years

LEHI, Utah and SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 07, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Today, Ancestry published a scientific article entitled “Clustering of 770 thousand genomes reveals post-colonial population structure of North America” in Nature Communications. The article shares new research using genetic data from over 700,000 individuals from North America to uncover a detailed picture of the subtle patterns of migration and settlement in post-colonial USA. Ancestry is the leader in family history and consumer genomics with 80 million family trees and more than three million people using AncestryDNA, a combination which powered the fine-grain historical insights that have previously been inaccessible from genetic studies.

This research was led by Ancestry’s Chief Scientific Officer Catherine Ball, Ph.D., her Ancestry colleagues and historian Erin Battat, Ph.D., from Harvard University.

“Ancestry is just scratching the surface of scientific discoveries that can be made when combining large amounts of genomic data with detailed pedigree information, and I’m incredibly proud of the work the team put into this research project as well as the fascinating results we’ve found,” said Ball. “It’s especially rewarding to gain insights that not only contribute significantly to genomic research, but provide a glimpse into our own personal histories and identities.”

Key highlights of the paper:

  • The authors created a network of genetically-identified relationships among over 700,000 individuals, and identified clusters of individuals who were very subtly more related to one another. By using family tree information, the team identified that these clusters corresponded to detailed and subtle patterns of migration and settlement in post-colonial USA.
  • The main achievement of this research is not only the development of novel scientific methodology, but also Ancestry’s use of an extremely large sample of both genetic and pedigree data.
  • This research identifies population structure in North America, shaped by many different geographical and cultural factors, which has previously been difficult to determine at such a fine granularity from genetic data alone.
  • The data depict movements and settlements across east-west and north-south gradients, and pick out groups descended from those who remained isolated after moving to the USA for geographical or cultural reasons, such as Amish populations within in Midwestern states and Pennsylvania.
  • The authors suggest that these data reveal more than our history. Some clusters of individuals have higher frequencies of gene variants associated with disease risk, which could inform future avenues of research in the field.

Ancestry is well on the way to harnessing the scientific power of its two unique data sets — the combination of the records of history in our genetics, coupled with paper records of family history. Such research can not only provide personal stories, but also the context of ties between people, places, and human events, allowing people to understand their identities even more deeply. The Ancestry team continues to study ethnic diversity, migration patterns, human evolution, and the history of our species to uncover connections among mankind.

This work was made possible by the contributions thousands of customers who have researched family trees, taken the AncestryDNA test and agreed to participate in scientific research. The science and research revealed in the article will be made available in a product feature in the coming months.

About Ancestry

Ancestry, the global leader in family history and consumer genomics, harnesses the information found in family trees, historical records, and DNA to help people gain a new level of understanding about their lives. Ancestry has more than 2.4 million paying subscribers across its core Ancestry websites and DNA data from more than 3 million people. Since 1996, more than 19 billion records have been added to Ancestry’s databases, and users have created more than 80 million family trees on the Ancestry flagship site and its affiliated international websites. Ancestry offers a suite of family history products and services including AncestryDNA, Archives, AncestryProGenealogists, and Fold3. AncestryDNA is owned and operated by DNA, LLC, a subsidiary of, LLC. and Other Tech Companies File Brief Opposed to Travel Ban llc

According to a post at Bloomberg Technology, Provo, Utah-based – the largest genealogy and family history company in the world, has signed on to a legal brief condemning the recent Executive Order proclaimed by US president Donald Trump related to travel and immigration.

In the brief, 97 companies expressed their opposition to the Executive being appealed in the case STATE OF WASHINGTON, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees,v.
DONALD J. TRUMP, et al.,Defendants-Appellants.  The amicus curiae brief can be viewed here.

In addition to, the other 96 companies include some who provide services often used by genealogists: Citrix (GoToWebinar for webinars), Dropbox (cloud storage), Facebook (social media), and Google (web search).

The complete list:

1. AdRoll, Inc.

2. Aeris Communications, Inc.

3. Airbnb, Inc.

4. AltSchool, PBC

5., LLC

6. Appboy, Inc.

7. Apple Inc.

8. AppNexus Inc.

9. Asana, Inc.

10. Atlassian Corp Plc

11. Autodesk, Inc.

12. Automattic Inc.

13. Box, Inc.

14. Brightcove Inc.

15. Brit + Co

16. CareZone Inc.

17. Castlight Health

18. Checkr, Inc.

19. Chobani, LLC

20. Citrix Systems, Inc.

21. Cloudera, Inc.

22. Cloudflare, Inc.

23. Copia Institute

24. DocuSign, Inc.

25. DoorDash, Inc.

26. Dropbox, Inc.

27. Dynatrace LLC

28. eBay Inc.

29. Engine Advocacy

30. Etsy Inc.

31. Facebook, Inc.

32. Fastly, Inc.

33. Flipboard, Inc.

34. Foursquare Labs, Inc.

35. Fuze, Inc.

36. General Assembly

37. GitHub

38. Glassdoor, Inc.

39. Google Inc.

40. GoPro, Inc.

41. Harmonic Inc.

42. Hipmunk, Inc.

43. Indiegogo, Inc.

44. Intel Corporation

45. JAND, Inc. d/b/a Warby Parker

46. Kargo Global, Inc.

47. Kickstarter, PBC


49. Knotel

50. Levi Strauss & Co.

51. LinkedIn Corporation

52. Lithium Technologies, Inc.

53. Lyft, Inc.

54. Mapbox, Inc.

55. Maplebear Inc. d/b/a Instacart

56. Marin Software Incorporated

57. Medallia, Inc.

58. A Medium Corporation

59. Meetup, Inc.

60. Microsoft Corporation

61. Motivate International Inc.

62. Mozilla Corporation

63. Netflix, Inc.

64. NETGEAR, Inc.

65. NewsCred, Inc.

66. Patreon, Inc.

67. PayPal Holdings, Inc.

68. Pinterest, Inc.

69. Quora, Inc.

70. Reddit, Inc.

71. Rocket Fuel Inc.

72. SaaStr Inc.

73., Inc.

74. Scopely, Inc.

75. Shutterstock, Inc.

76. Snap Inc.

77. Spokeo, Inc.

78. Spotify USA Inc.

79. Square, Inc.

80. Squarespace, Inc.

81. Strava, Inc.

82. Stripe, Inc.

83. SurveyMonkey Inc.

84. TaskRabbit, Inc

85. Tech:NYC

86. Thumbtack, Inc.

87. Turn Inc.

88. Twilio Inc.

89. Twitter Inc.

90. Turn Inc.

91. Uber Technologies, Inc.

92. Via

93. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

94. Workday

95. Y Combinator Management, LLC

96. Yelp Inc.

97. Zynga Inc.

©2017, copyright Thomas MacEntee. All rights reserved. Message to Employees from CEO Tim Sullivan


[Editor’s Note: Last evening we received from Ancestry’s public relations department, a copy of the following email sent to all employees by its CEO Tim Sullivan.]

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous.  Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families.  We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation.  We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now.  We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war.  Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country’s strength. 

Ancestry is stronger due to the diversity of our employee’s personal and professional experience, so we have a clear business interest in not seeing America’s doors slammed shut to those that desire to come here and to contribute to our national strength, regardless of religion, race, or national origin.  Ancestry is also a company whose values are on display every day, and I’m proud to be part of a company that strives to have a positive impact on people’s lives, respects every person’s story, and celebrates the diversity of everyone’s ancestry.  So I want to clearly affirm that the content and intent of President Trump’s executive order on Friday, as well as the disturbing actions that were unleashed by this order, represent the total antithesis to the values of our company.

No one can ignore the stories of people stranded or detained and refused re-entry into a country they considered home and not feel real empathy.  Because I am also writing to you not just as CEO, but as a person, I will be honest and say that I am personally horrified and angered by the ignorance, hate, and xenophobia that have precipitated this shocking weekend, and that I think this is something that we all are going to have to confront and denounce.

Again, please let us know if you know of any employees that are personally impacted by the current situation.