DNA `Sat Nav` tells where your ancestors lived 1000 years ago

Last Updated: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 17:40

London: Want to know where your ancestors lived 1,000 years ago? A new GPS tool can direct you!

A new ground-breaking technique developed by scientists traces where your DNA was formed a millennium ago.

The Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool works similarly to a satellite navigation system as it helps you to find your actual ancestor`s home from 1,000 years ago.

Previously, scientists have only been able to locate where your DNA was formed to within 700kms, however 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.
Genetic admixture occurs when individuals from two or more previously separated populations begin interbreeding. This results in the creation of new gene pools representing a mixture of the founder gene pool.

Such processes are extremely common in history during migrations and invasions.

"What we have discovered 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 by modelling these admixture processes," said Dr Eran Elhaik from the University of Sheffield`s Department of Animal and Plant Sciences.

"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," said Elhaik.

To demonstrate how accurate GPS predictions are, Elhaik and colleagues analysed data from 10 villages in Sardinia and over 20 islands in Oceania.
Elhaik and his team were able to place a quarter of the residents in Sardinia directly to their home village and most of the remaining residents within 50km of their village.

Elhaik and Dr Tatiana Tatarinova from the University of Southern California have developed a website making GPS accessible to the public.

"To help people find their roots, I developed a website that allows anyone who has had their DNA genotyped to upload their results and use GPS to find their ancestral home," said Tatarinova.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

PTI

First Published: Thursday, May 1, 2014 - 17:40

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