London: Believe it or not, a new genetic
test could soon enable people to discover the exact origins of
their family to within a few miles, according to researchers.
A European team, led by University of Edinburgh, has
carried out a research and found DNA analysis can accurately
predict the origins of rural people to within five miles of
their family`s home, the `Daily Mail` reported.
The findings suggest it may eventually be possible to
work out the rural roots of city dwellers who have ancestors
from different parts of the same country, the researchers say.
The Edinburgh researchers, working with scientists in
Italy and Croatia, tested whether the same analysis could be
used to distinguish between people from the same country who
were separated only by short distances.
The team, led by Jim Wilson, studied the genes of
people whose four grandparents came from the same village in
Scotland, Croatia or Italy. None of the volunteers were
related to each other.
The results showed by studying genetic differences, it
was possible to distinguish between individuals who live in
villages that are only five miles apart.
The researchers predicted the correct village of
origin for everyone involved in the Italian study, 96 per cent
of the Scottish sample and 89 per cent of people in the
They concluded that the pattern could be explained by
the fact that, long ago, people tended to marry within their
own community. After many generations, the different villages
developed their genetic fingerprint, which can be picked up.
Lead researcher Dr Wilson said: "It was quite
surprising and quite exciting because we`ve known for a number
of years that you can use the variation that people have in
their DNA to tell whether they`re African or East Asian or
Native American -- people who come from different continents.
"We`ve just worked up recently to telling apart, in
one study at least, people who came from the north of Italy
and people who came from Tuscany, halfway down Italy. I just
wanted to see what the limit of this was, how far can you go.
"We had samples from villages very close together.
We were able to ask whether you can tell people apart from
basically next door."
Dr Wilson said he hopes the findings will have wider
implications as the technology involved becomes less expensive
over the years.
"This exciting finding begs the question of whether
we will be able to identify the rural origins of urban people
with ancestry from many places across a country. These results
hold out the possibility that with more data, using genome
sequencing for instance we might be able to do this," he said.
The findings have been published in the `European
Journal of Human Genetics`.