#dna Question about genetic groups on My Heritage & Ancestry #sephardic #dna



I uploaded my DNA to My Heritage, interested in the genetic groups which according to My Heritage gives more details than Ancestry, although this is part of a package and is £35. ...Ancestry obviously shares a map of where your DNA comes from plus gives a rough idea of what percentage Jewish you are, I guess my question here is My Heritage claims to show if you are Ashkenazi or Sephardi, but wouldn't you see this anyway on your Ancestry map? Has anyone paid the £35 and unlocked? Gut feeling is My Heritage are just using their maps to determine? 

thanks in advance
Mandy Molava
Researching Russia Brest Belarus Galacia and much more

Adam Turner

AncestryDNA does not currently list "Sephardic Jewish" as a region in its ethnicity analysis. Full list of all of the regions they report here: https://support.ancestry.com/s/article/List-of-AncestryDNA-Regions 

Presumably, until Ancestry updates the product to include a distinct Sephardic Jewish ethnicity (likely contingent on their being able to find reliable markers of who is Sephardic Jewish vs. non-Jewish Spanish, Greek, Moroccan, etc.), people of Sephardic origin end up with their AncestryDNA ethnicity estimate as some combination of various Southern European, Levantine, and North African regions.

All that said, you may want to take caution and review some of the posts in this forum which discuss the perils of taking consumer DNA ethnicity analyses - especially those produced by MyHeritageDNA - too seriously. Here's one recent thread: https://groups.jewishgen.org/g/main/topic/75824182#647450  

Adam Turner

Jill Whitehead

Hi Mandy

All the DNA companies give completely different results - they are not reliable for Jewish sub groups. I am on FTDNA, 23andme, Ancestry and My Heritage and none of them agree - some give me as one eighth Sephardic. But others give this as North African, whilst others give this as Eastern European. You would be better getting an in depth K16 analysis from a specialist company. 

Jill Whitehead, Surrey, UK

Kevin Brook

The Ancestry and MyHeritage DNA genetic groups sometimes successfully distinguish between Ashkenazic sub-populations such as Litvak versus Galitzianer.  For example, MyHeritage correctly assigns my father to its primarily Belarus and Lithuania clusters and my mother to its primarily Poland and Ukraine clusters.  They also got assigned several additional Ashkenazic clusters that are more generic or mixed, and a portion of my father's DNA to their "Sephardic Jewish-North Africa" group.  But as early uploaders we didn't have to pay anything to receive these estimated assignments.

Jill Whitehead has a good idea that if you really want to pay for additional analysis, a specialist might be the one to choose instead.

There aren't any pure Sephardic individuals alive today, genetically speaking.  Modern Turkish Jews are a combination of Sephardic Jews, Romaniote Jews, Italki Jews, and Ashkenazic Jews.  Modern Bulgarian Jews are likewise a Sephardic-Ashkenazic mix.  Modern Moroccan Jews are a combination of Sephardic Jews with pre-1492 Jews including Berber Jews (the French author
Julien Cohen-Lacassagne isn't entirely wrong on this point).  Modern Syrian Jews are a combination of Sephardic Jews with pre-1492 Middle Eastern Jewish ethnicities.  The only way to reliably identify a portion of DNA as Sephardic is to find it matching non-Jewish communities of Sephardic descendants that were isolated from practicing Jews for centuries, such as those from the Azores, the Philippines, Peru, or Cuba.  None of the big companies tried to do it in that way, hence all the false positives and false negatives to their "Sephardic" categories.

Kevin Alan Brook

Kevin Brook

For clarification: In message #655542, when I wrote about identifying Sephardic DNA in non-Jews, obviously I meant when a strand of DNA is simultaneously found in those kinds of non-Jews and in at least one Jewish population. So I should have added the word "also" into my phrase "to find it matching non-Jewish communities".

Kevin Brook