Frequently Asked Questions


General:

Signing Up:

Profile page and Files:

Ancestry Report:

Relative-Matching Reports:

In-depth Informational Pages:




General:

What is the purpose of DNA.Land? (top)
DNA.Land is a place where you can learn more about your genome while enabling scientists to make new genetic discoveries for the benefit of humanity. Our goal is to help members to interpret their data and to enable their contribution to research.
Do you need any other information in addition to my genomic data? (top)
To help understand the genetic basis of different traits, we will ask you to fill out surveys relating to your (or your family’s) ancestry and health.
Will my data be public? (top)
We will not share with third parties or make public without your explicit permission: the personal identifiers in your profile, your contact information, your individual-level survey results, or your individual level genomic data. We will only share with other researchers or publish aggregated data as detailed in the consent.
Can I participate if I don't have access to my genome? (top)
You must have access to your genome data in order to participate in DNA.Land.
Is DNA.Land operated or endorsed by 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, or Ancestry.com? (top)
No. We are geneticists from Columbia University and the New York Genome Center who work independently of these companies. We do not advise or have any financial or business connection with them.
What can I expect to learn from DNA.Land? (top)
By being part of DNA.Land, you will be able to connect with the scientific community and learn more about your genome for free, including information about ancestry and relatedness to other individuals on the site.
If my genome data is already on 23andMe, FTDNA, AncestryDNA, and GEDmatch, and I’ve run it through Promethease, what additional value will I get by uploading it to DNA Land? (top)
DNA.Land provides you with several additional features:
  • DNA.Land imputes your genome, which opens the possibility of seeing genetic variations that were not part of the original file. It is similar to getting whole genome sequencing data (albeit we still miss some rare variations) without investing thousands of dollars.
  • You might find additional relatives because we use different algorithms.
  • We will be adding other features to the website that you don't get with other sites. This is just the beginning. Early adopters will help us to validate our approach and to continue our efforts.
  • Last but not least, you contribute to academic science through DNA.Land. 23andMe are doing some research but they are a private company and hold a lot of data for themselves. By contributing your genome to DNA.Land you will enable non-profit researchers and advance basic and translational science.
What are the project's terms of usage/consent? (top)
We've designed out consent page to be short and clear.
Read it here.
Is this research project reviewed by an independent oversight committee ? (top)
Yes: all DNA.Land features are IRB-approved .
We are working with the Biomedical Research Alliance of New York Institutional Review Board.
For more information see the "contact" section on our consent page .

Signing Up:

I checked the box in the consent, but clicking on the 'I AGREE: CONTINUE' button does nothing. What is going on? (top)
There is a known issue to pass the consent when using Internet Explorer 11 on a Windows Machine. If this is the case, please use a different browser.
If you use a different browser and still experience problems with passing the consent step, your browser likely does not support JavaScript. Please go to this link to test if your browser supports JavaScript and for instructions about how to turn it on.
I have used multiple kits for my family members. How can I upload them to the website? (top)
DNA.Land currently supports only one genome per account. We are an academic project and need to comply with human subject regulations. Our terms require the consent of the person whose genome is being uploaded. As long as your other family members agree to the consent terms you can upload their genomes on their behalf using a separate account. Please write the true first and last name (not yours) of the person whose genome was uploaded as this is required by the consent.
I was tested with 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, and AncestryDNA. Which data should I upload? (top)
We have no data indicating a difference in the quality of the results based on the tested company. You may select any company you want. Your data will be statistically imputed shortly after you upload your file and any analysis is done using the imputed genome. As such, regardless of the input data, genomes are entered into a standard format.
I have accounts on 23andMe, Ancestry, and FTDNA, and I can’t figure out which file formats you accept. (top)
From 23andMe, we accept: their "Raw Data" file
From Ancestry, we accept: their "DNA Raw Data" file
and from FTDNA, we accept: their “Build 37 Autosomal Raw Data” file
I have consent from a number of my family members to upload their DNA files/I have DNA files from all three of the companies, but I only have one email address. Is there anyway I can make multiple accounts with one email? (top)
We can currently handle a single genotype file per user/account as part of the consent process. But, if you are able to use a Gmail account, there is a trick that will allow you to create all your accounts using one email address. Say that your Gmail address is dna.land.user@gmail.com. To upload another family member (say your mother) to DNA.Land, create an account with the email dna.land.user+mom@gmail.com. Though it may look weird, DNA.Land will accept this as a valid email account. When we send the validation email to dna.land.user+mom@gmail.com, Google will redirect the message to YOUR account (dna.land.user@gmail.com). You can do that for as many genomes as you’d like, all under one Gmail account.
I have a 23andMe formatted file from Genes For Good. Why can’t I upload it to DNA.LAND? (top)
At this time, we are only able to accept files directly from Ancestry, FTDNA, and 23andMe. We look forward to welcoming other communities into DNA.LAND at some point in the future!
How can I upload my data to DNA.Land? (top)
After registration, we will ask you to download your genome data directly from the DNA testing website. Currently, we only support 23andMe, FamilyTree DNA, or Ancestry.com. If you don't know how to download your data, don't worry! We will provide you with step-by-step instructions. Then, you can just follow the registration and upload process. Importantly, your data won't be collected until you complete the consent as part of the registration process.
How do I upload my DNA file to DNA.Land once I've downloaded it from 23andMe/Ancestry/FamilyTreeDNA? (top)
  1. Log into the account you have created at https://dna.land/register
  2. Read the consent form, scroll down, and check the box at the bottom of the page
  3. Click "I Agree: Continue"
  4. Click "Select File"
  5. Select the DNA file on your computer
Why do I have to consent to share my data? (top)
Before you can join DNA.Land, it is important that you understand what research is being done and that your participation is entirely voluntary. For your reference, you can view or download a copy of the consent document.
I can't login and the website says my email is already registered. (top)
Before you can continue with registration, you must verify the link sent to the email address you used. After you click the link, you will be directed back to the home page.

Profile page and Files:

My files show 'in progress' but I've been waiting more than 24 hours. (top)
This is a common occurrence during launch periods for new features. At those times, the number of new users joining each day is much higher than normal. Our systems are always working at full capacity to provide the analysis results for everyone as soon as possible. If your files show 'in progress' for more than 72 hours, we recommend writing to info@dna.land as there is likely an issue with your account.
What is the contribution badge? (top)
Your contribution badge shows your score based on the information you provide on DNA.Land. The 2 circles represent "genotype" and "genealogy" and reach 100% if you've uploaded your genome have answered all the questions about you and your parents. The points are based on the number of bits of information you provide. The percentage is your ranking compared to other users, relating to how much information you've provided and can change as the ranking change.
How do I link my DNA.Land account to my Geni.com profile? (top)
What do I receive in exchange for linking my Geni profile to my DNA.land account? (top)
Our Geni features allows users who have linked their accounts to see the family trees of other users on DNA.LAND who have also linked their accounts to Geni.
What are VCF files and how to view them? (top)
Variant Call Format (VCF) files are text files used in bioinformatics to store gene sequence variations. See the VCF information page to learn more.
What is a BCF file, and why do you offer it as a download? (top)
The BCF file is a binary equivalent of the VCF file. Similar to the relationship between PDF and Word document: they contain exactly the same information, but the file format is different. That being said, should you like to explore the BCF file, this website is the resource you are looking for: http://samtools.github.io/hts-specs/.
What are TBI (VCF Tabix) files? (top)
TBI files (Also called VCF Tabix or VCF Index files) are auxiliary files containing supplementary data about imputed VCF files. By themselves, they do not provide any additional genotyping information. However, some programs and/or websites requires both VCF and TBI files as input - in which case you'll be asked to download both the VCF file and the TBI file to your computer.
To learn more about VCF files, see the VCF Information page.

Ancestry Report:

What is the Ancestry detection method? (top)
We use Dr. Joe Pickrell's Ancestry program, which is an implementation of the supervised STRUCTURE model with a custom reference panel. The source code is available here.
How does DNA.LAND conceptualize Ancestry? (top)
There is a percentage of my Ancestry Report that is labeled "ambiguous." What does this mean? (top)
The ambiguous percentage of your Ancestry Report indicates a percentage of your DNA file that did not match with any of the sources in our reference panel. It is our hope that as our reference panel grows, there will be less possibility for ambiguous percentages.
I just logged on to DNA.LAND and have noticed there is a new Ancestry Report. I can’t figure out how to read it! (top)
For a detailed description of the new Ancestry Report, including instructions on how to read each of the charts, we’d like to refer you to our recent blog post about the new report .
Why are the results of my Ancestry Report different from those I’ve found on other services? (top)
Think of your genome as a beam of light. The reference panel of each service’s algorithm acts as a prism that decomposes this beam of light to its potential components. Since each prism has different physical properties, the rainbows they produce will all be at least a little bit different. As each reference panel has its own strengths and caveats, it is best to observe your genomes through as many prisms as you can. Only in this way can you better illuminate your past.
I strongly disagree with the name of one or more of my Ancestry Composites. Why were they given the wrong names? (top)
Our process of creating Ancestry groups involves grouping specific ancestries into populations based on genetic similarity. After we have the groupings, we then choose names for them. This is a difficult and delicate task, as most of the groupings we have devised do not yet have existing names. Rather than creating new population names from scratch, we strive to find the closest and most accurate existing name that we can. Sometimes this has meant giving names to Ancestry groups that aren't necessarily true of all the groupings’ subpopulations. One example of this is the inclusion of Turks in "Central Indoeuropean" even though they speak a Turkic language. Another example of this is describing the Kalmyk as "East Turkic" even though they live near the black sea –west of the "Mid Turkic" peoples. The names of our Ancestry Composites are there for your convenience. We appreciate your understanding of the difficulty of this task. For greater specificity, we recommend examining the "includes" and "does not include" lists.
What does “Includes/Does Not Include” refer to in the “details” section of the Ancestry Report? (top)
We created that aspect of the report to help illustrate for our users which samples in our Reference Panel were used for each of the clusters. The list under "includes" is made up of the sample that are included in the cluster.

The list under "Does not include" states populations that are NOT part of the category, but appear in the geographical vicinity. We tested your genome with these populations. We list them in order to contrast between close categories (e.g. Southwest Europe and Northwest Europe).

This recent blog post explaining the new Ancestry Report might be a helpful read for you as well.

Relative-Matching Reports:

What can I learn from the Relative Finder report? (top)
When you register for DNA.Land, you will have the option find relatives based on genetic matches. You can learn more here .
What is the Identity by Descent (IBD) detection method? (top)
We use the GERMLINE algorithm, developed at Dr Itsik Pe'er's lab of Computational Genetics.
We currently require minimal segment length of 3 cM to be included in the "Long Shared Segments" in the Relative-Finder report.
In the relative finder report, why do you show only the first 50 matches? Can you show more? (top)
Our website currently displays the top 50 matches, sorted by relatedness degree and total shared segments. We are working on new features to allow users to view more matches.
I know that my relative X is in the website. Why I can't see X on my relative matching report?
Here is a short guide on understanding the relative finder report.

  1. Give it some time. Matches take time and depend on the number of users that have joined DNA.Land. When we have a backlog, it can take up to two weeks for matches to appear after a users' file has been fully processed by our system. Once your file has been uploaded, you will initially only see your ancestry results and the results on the “Find Relatives” page will appear to be empty. This does not necessarily mean that you have no matches in our system. If you don't have any matches currently, our suggestion is to check the website again in a few days.
  2. Validate files. If you gave it a few days and still have no matches, please remember that currently 10% of our users do not have any matches in our system. If you know about a close relative who is also part of DNA.Land (and has been for a while), we encourage you to confirm that your relative is indeed in the website and that both of you have uploaded the right files. We have had several cases where users managing multiple accounts uploaded a file that was meant to correspond with a different person’s account. We also have had cases of users uploading incompatible file formats to DNA.Land. While our system is tuned to catch most of these errors early-on, it can still miss some of the formats. Please read the instructions as to which files from 23andMe, FTDNA, and Ancestry we currently accept, and ask your match if they have uploaded the right format.
  3. Understand our algorithm (relevant for 3rd cousin matches and above): DNA.Land uses a stringent, statistical-testing based approach to identifying matches. We use this approach in order to avoid false matches and/or raising false hopes - thereby preventing the potential waste of our users’ time. For example, a single, relatively short (e.g. 15cM) segment is usually not enough for our algorithm to trigger a match. We know that this creates some frustration for users, but quantitative genetics provides little support that this is a "valid" cousin.
  4. Contact us: If your case does not fall within the three categories above, please contact us (info@dna.land) and we will be happy to assist. Our regular support hours are on Mon, Wed, and Fri during the morning (EST). Emails outside these times are queued and answered chronologically.
What is "imputation"? (top)
Imputation in Genetics means using statistical inference to deduce unknown genotypes based on known ones. See the Imputation information page to learn more.
What is the reference panel you use for imputation? (top)
The reference is the latest 1000 Genomes reference dataset (autosomal data: June 2014, X: August 2012).
What is the difference between an "Ancient" match and a "Recent" match? (top)
"Ancient" matches are matches due to population background (many ancient relatives) rather than a recent single ancestor ("Recent" match).
Why do I match with a user named OpenSNP who I cannot get in touch with? (top)
When we started, DNA.Land indexed the entire OpenSNP database. We got a permission from the administrator of OpenSNP to do this because the whole point of OpenSNP is to publicly share genetic data without restrictions. If an OpenSNP users upload his/her data to DNA.Land, they will discover their OpenSNP copy as a twin. This should not be a surprise to them, as uploading to OpenSNP allows permission for anyone to user their DNA file.



For any additional questions, please email info@dna.land.

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