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Sheffield research will help track where you come from

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It’s time to meet your ancestors - new techniques developed by Sheffield University can trace where your DNA was formed over 1,000 years ago.

The ground breaking Geographic Population Structure tool works similarly to a satellite navigation system as it helps you to find your way home.

But it doesn’t find the one you currently live in – but rather your actual ancestor’s home from ten centuries ago.

Previously scientists have only been able to locate where DNA was formed to within 700kms, which in Europe could be two countries away.

But this pioneering technique has been 98 per cent successful in locating worldwide populations to their right geographic regions, and down to their village and island of origin.

The breakthrough of knowing where the gene pools that created your DNA were last mixed has massive implications for life-saving personalised medicine, advancing forensic science and for the study of populations whose ancestral origins are under debate, such as African Americans, Roma gypsies and European Jews.

Dr Eran Elhaik said: “If we think of our world as being made up of different colours of soup – representing different populations - it is easy to visualise how genetic admixture occurs. If a population from the blue soup region mixes with a population from the red soup region their off-springs would appear as a purple soup.

“The more genetic admixture that takes place, the more different colours of soup are introduced which makes it increasingly difficult to locate your DNA’s ancestry using traditional tools which have an accuracy level of less than two per cent.”

He added: “What we have discovered here at the University of Sheffield is a way to find not where you were born – as you have that information on your passport – but where your DNA was formed up to 1,000 years ago.

“What is remarkable is that, we can do this so accurately that we can locate the village where your ancestors lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago – until now this has never been possible.”

 

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