31 January 2012

ConnectMyDNA Test Results

     Update: When I wrote this post, I did not intend for it to be as popular as it has become. Because of this, I have disabled comments. When reading this review of my ConnectMyDNA experience, keep in mind that I knew this was not a genealogy DNA test. However I cannot help but expect my "country connections" which reflect "which population group you most closely resemble" to have a connection to my heritage or physical appearance. The following review reflects those expectations and I stand by my comments.

     A few weeks ago I ordered a test from ConnectMyDNA via a LivingSocial special. I received my results back recently and they were... interesting. I knew that this was not an ancestry / genealogy DNA test, but rather it compares your DNA to current populations. I was curious: was my DNA more similar to the English, German or some other European?

     Well, according to ConnectMyDNA, my DNA is more Malaysian. Um, what?  Here's the breakdown:


     I was more than a bit confused by the results. There are only three European countries on the list, Sweden, Ireland and Slovenia. The rest are asian or hispanic countries. I don't know how my results could possibly be correct, even understanding that colonization mixed European DNA into populations throughout the world.

     I emailed ConnectMyDNA to find out more about why my results came out the way they did. I got a response that seems pretty copy and paste:
"Thank you for your inquiry. ConnectMyDNA™ is not an ancestry test.  ConnectMyDNA™ utilizes current databases that represent the modern world population structure. ConnectMyDNA™ provides you with a Gene Ring™ and the populations with which you share the most similarity. Your unique DNA signature is used to calculate the frequency of occurrence of your DNA profile with different population databases from around the world using a standard population genetics formula known as the Hardy-Weinberg equation. The numerical value of the different calculations identifies your top country connection. Your top country connection represents the population that you most closely resemble based on today’s demographics."
     Ok, I tried to do some research on this, but science is not my thing.  It appears that Hardy and Weinberg came up an equation that explains how the frequency of genotypes and alleles stay the same generation by generation and will not change under certain conditions. Pretty much ConnectMyDNA plugged my DNA into an equation and came up with these results. Their response to my email was not specific to my question or my DNA, and was not a very helpful.

     There may be a reason that my results came back the way they did, but I can't understand how they could be correct.  How can I have mostly pure European DNA and be more closely related to an Asian population?

     Simply put, I don't trust the results and would not recommend that anyone purchase a ConnectMyDNA test.

UPDATE: This message was posted on the ConnectMyDNA Facebook page in response to customer concerns:
"Here is some additional information on ConnectMyDNA that may shed some additional light to the results. 
Although there is no real simple way to explain some of the science involved, one way to express or explain your results is through Population Genetics. Population Genetics is a branch of genetics that focuses on how frequently genes occur in a population and once determined, how frequently combinations of genes (genotypes) should occur. For example, if a gene has two forms (alleles) in a population, they can be referred to as x and y. Allele x is found at a frequency of 10% in the population while allele y is found at a frequency of 90% (total adds up to 100%). A different population may have the same two alleles, but their frequencies may be different. Since each person contains two copies of a gene, one from each biological parent, there are three possible genotypes; x/x, x/y, and y/y. These three genotypes will occur in a frequency proportional to the individual allele frequencies and can be calculated using a standard Population Genetics equation known as the Hardy-Weinberg Equation. In this case the three genotypes are expected to occur at a frequency of: x/x is (0.1 x 0.1) = 1%; x/y is (2 x 0.1 x 0.9) = 18%; y/y = (0.9 x 0.9) = 81%.

ConnectMyDNA uses these principles in providing information about the population groups you share the most statistical similarity. Since the markers used to generate your unique DNA profile are weakly affiliated with ancestry, your connection will likely not match your expectations in terms of ancestry.

ConnectMyDNA is a fun and unique way to take 13 markers, a very small fragment of your own personal fingerprint and compare these to the same 13 markers of others around the world. It just so happens that those same markers are more prominent in your #1 country match.

If we were to expand and include other markers in this comparison, the results could change and become more refined and would perhaps show more of your ancestry if we also included markers used in ancestry testing. This also holds true if we were to add additional population databases as these could change the population order. ConnectMyDNA will always pick the top 5-10 matches, even if the most appropriate database is not included in the mix.

In a world that thrives on social connections CMD is a easy way to get people interested in learning more about themselves and create ways to connect with others with new commonality.

ConnectMyDNA uses these principles in providing information about the population groups you share the most statistical similarity. Since the markers used to generate your unique DNA profile are weakly affiliated with ancestry, your connection will likely not match your expectations in terms of ancestry. 
ConnectMyDNA is a fun and unique way to take 13 markers, a very small fragment of your own personal fingerprint and compare these to the same 13 markers of others around the world. It just so happens that those same markers are more prominent in your #1 country match.
If we were to expand and include other markers in this comparison, the results could change and become more refined and would perhaps show more of your ancestry if we also included markers used in ancestry testing. This also holds true if we were to add additional population databases as these could change the population order. ConnectMyDNA will always pick the top 5-10 matches, even if the most appropriate database is not included in the mix.
In a world that thrives on social connections CMD is a easy way to get people interested in learning more about themselves and create ways to connect with others with new commonality."

25 comments:

Sarah Farr said...

Do you think you will try emailing them again, letting them know that their first response was inadequate? It seems like they would be interested in false results like yours so that they could correct any problems with their equation.

Mike Bridgett said...

Wish I found your site before I spent $ on ConnectMyDNA... My ancestors almost exclusively came from Ireland and England and ConnectMyDNA suggests my top 10 connections are as follows:
1. China
2. Thailand
3. Guatemala
4. Korea, North
5. Japan
6. Malaysia
7. Honduras
8. Mexico
9. Chile
10. Taiwan

Hmmmm... Does this explain my affinity for chinese food? Maybe I'm confusing effect and cause and it's the chinese food affecting my DNA?

ConnectMyDNA, meh - not impressed.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. I saw the email offer today. I was considering it, but first did some checking around. Your blog was the first I read. Wow, it was just what I needed to read. They will not get my money. Sorry to hear what happened.

Anonymous said...

Ha! Wish I'd seen your blog before buying that LivingSocial deal. I actually got 2 kits - one for myself & another for my husband. Actually, we've been having so much trouble just getting the kit for my husband and then when they finally sent a second one (the first never arrived) now the barcode doesn't work. Don't even know if we'll get his result at this point. So, I'm have Thai & Chinese ancestry so my expectation was to have these prominently at the top of the list. But my Top 10 list is just bizarre!
1. Japan
2. Korea, North
3. Nepal
4. Syria
5. Taiwan
6. Morocco
7. China
8. Thailand
9. Iraq
10. Saudi Arabia
Now that I've read the note CMD posted on their FB page, I guess I can see why it's this messed up. They're looking at a very narrow set of parameters. This test is completely useless and it's so misleading. At least China & Thailand did make it on the list .... after Syria & Morocco that I'm sure I've no recent ancestry from there.

B.K. said...

Thank you so much for posting this information. I received results that I thought were a bit strange. I couldn't understand why everything was so dispersed.

cat said...

My identical twin and I received results that most closely matched Brazil and Sweden (our heritage is English/Irish). Even funnier is the fact that we're identical twins and have had DNA tests done in the past showing that we share 99.99% of our genes and our results came back different. If I didn't care about wasting my money, I'd be curious to test myself again to see if results came back differently. Don't waste your money on this!!!

Candelle said...

Dang! I just spent the money on 2 kits from living social. Wish I had done research first. Bummer! At least now I know what to expect and my mom and I can have a good laugh.

Anonymous said...

I am still waiting on my results but I'm sure they will be just as weird as everyone else is reporting. It seems like most people have Asian countries as their top results. I wonder if this has something to do with larger populations in those countries. If this deal comes back on livingsocial I may just do what cat was talking about...retest!!!

Vladimir Chupakhin said...

you definitely not looks like Malasyan :)

Anonymous said...

I bought 3 kits, only received 2 of them. I did get results back from the 2 and what a shock - for someone with Italian grandparents - both sides - my country of origin is North Korea!!!! My spouses background through ancestry search is Irish and British and her country of origin is Romania. I'm glad I didn't pay full price. Since I never received the 3rd kit, I'm requested my money back.

TonyD said...

What a waste of money. My results came back as closely related to Italy, although my family is from the Phillipines. Maybe they got mine mixed up with someone elses. Or maybe they tried to use my name to determine its origins. I think LivingSocial should be offering a refund for sponsoring such a bogus product.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I bought a Livingsocial voucher for ConnectmyDNA also and although I'm pretty positive I'm almost, if not, 100% Chinese, according to my test results, there is absolutely no Asian in me. It's Russian (which I guess is close but no cigar) and everything else was European (Swedish, Belgian, Irish, etc.). I know it's meant to be entertaining but this is so far off that it's no fun at all. What a total waste of $$.

Anonymous said...

I received my results today and my number one country connection is Macedonia. Ridiculous! I was born and bred in Ireland, so I was surprised to see Macedonia as my number 1!! Followed by Spain, Ireland (finally), Pakistan, Belgium, Romania, Afghanistan, Sweden, Australia, and Slovenia.

I am a scientist and this is a total load of nonsense. Their marketing is very misleading, so I would save your $20 for something else!

Anonymous said...

Received ours, and mine is almost spot-on, with Sweden #1, which is where Mom's grandparents on paternal side came from. Mom's maternal Poland is #3. Not sure where #2 Spain comes in, the rest of the countries could be from various colonizations. Now, my husband, who is several generations Belgium and Irish, shows neither. He claimed they either sent him someone else's, or he was switched at birth. He was very disappointed.

Little Tsunamie said...

As a population geneticist, the largest problem with this service seems two fold. One, they are looking at only 13 small pieces of DNA that have a very fast mutation rate - this means that what they are looking at changes very rapidly when compared to other parts of your genome and are more useful in looking at 'recent' (e.g. a few generations) of genetic history. Second, the database they are using is biased on what geneotypes are present in the database - if your closest match is not present, you won't see it. The database is a collection of these known markers, but if they have yet to put in information about your ancestry they can't extrapolate from info that is not there. The equation is a very typical Pop. Gen equation, but applying it to humans (who are not very different from one another, genetically speaking) using very little information (13 small pieces of quickly mutating DNA), you are bound to get funky results. As the database expands, your results would be likely to improve - if they continually updated your results to the increasing data.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for saving me $29.

ANJ

jblaha said...

I too was looking this up on LivingSocial.com. I'm glad I found your site. I would have been pissed.

ConnectMyDNA said...

As an employee at ConnectMyDNA we wanted to address one of the comments made, in particular, to Little Tsunamie's comment.

The choice of the 13 marker profile is the result of scientific research going back more than a decade. It was determined in the early 1980’s that there were locations in the human genome that are highly polymorphic. These locations (loci) contain many alleles detected initially as restriction fragment length polymorphisms (RFLPs) and later as short tandem repeats (STRs). Using population genetic principles, it was determined that a standard set of 13 genetically independent loci was sufficient to provide suitable information regarding biological relationships and to uniquely identify an individual (except for identical twins).

The mutation rate at these loci has been studied and found to be higher than single SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism) changes. This is possibly due to the nature of the mutational changes that typically differ by a single repeat unit of four base pairs and may be a result of slippage of the polymerase molecule during replication.

Most of the databases developed meet the assumptions of the Hardy-Weinberg equation and the alleles appear to be in equilibrium. Thus, even though there is a high mutation rate, generally about 1/1000, the impact on the allele frequency is small.

The databases contain allele frequencies only, and do not contain any genotypes or genotype frequency. Since these alleles can occur in combinations in a genotype without restriction, any combination of allele(s) is possible. We simply use the alleles observed in a person’s profile and can calculate a frequency of occurrence of each genotype with the databases available. These types of calculations are performed routinely in the forensic community to provide DNA information.

Since Connect My DNA is not an ancestry test, the associations you might have anticipated based on personal knowledge of your family will likely not be present in the ConnectMyDNA results. ConnectMyDNA looks at a number of locations in your DNA that are useful for identification purposed, i.e. paternity and forensic analysis. Since the individual markers at each location (alleles) are found in all populations tested, the frequency they occur determines order of the country matches.
Thank You

Anthony Parker said...

my parents and I got our results this past Saturday,May 19.We understand fully that Connectmydna is NOT an ancestry test and the people behind Connectmydna are honest upfront about Connectmydna not being an ancestry test.I like that funny looking genering. I hear that Dna Consultants and their subcompany Dna Spectrum,along with Dna Tribes and another company called Genetic Testing Labs,which has a test called "FoggPopper ancestral origins" have similar test to Connectmydna (they all use CODIS markers) but they claim all that their tests are ancestry tests.Any body that has a problem with Connectmydna should also try out Dna Consultants and their "Dna Fingerprintplus Neanderthal index" test!

Anthony Miner said...

Does anyone know of a good and accurate DNA test?
thanks
Anthony
antminer@yahoo.com

undaunted said...

Try Family Tree Maker, they have a DNA genetic testing that is well=known and I believe scientifically accepted. Three levels of testing.

Valerie Craft said...

@Anthony - there are a number of DNA companies that are widely used and promoted by genealogists. There are two main companies that I have used and continue to support: Family Tree DNA and 23andMe.

ftDNA offers three separate tests: Y-DNA for men, mtDNA for women and Autosomal DNA for both. 23andMe offers the same tests as a package, but offers fewer detailed results for their Y and mt tests.

The test you purchase would depend on the type of questions you want answered.

Anonymous said...

EVERYONE HERE - This looks like a total scam, and at the very least they have a very misleading marketing effort, which is most likely illegal. I would immediatley write to them, with your first line reading, "Please forward to your legal department." Then tell them you want an immediate refund or you will file a formal complaint with the Federal Trade Commission for violations of Federal regulations against deceptive marketing practices. Tell them they have ten business days to comply. (Then if they do no, follow up at ftc.gov.) The fact that they do not tell you up front that they only use a TINY part of your genetic pool to make comparisons IS HIGHLY MISLEADING at best, completely fradulent at worst. I would even file a $5 lawsuit at your local Small Claims Court for your entire purchase price. Let them try to prove in court that their study accurately provides you with your genetic connections. They won't even bother showing up, so the court will rule in your favor. Definitely, for something like this, if it doesn't have endorsements from a trusted source like The New York Times, don't send outfits any money. Also, I would suggest someone contact the PBS and NBC (or is it ABC) networks to ask the makers of the shows "Know Your Roots" (or whatever the PBS show is called) and "Who Do YOu Think You Are", which both use DNA testing as part of their geneology research, and ask them to have their DNA people comment on ConnectMyDNA's methodology and claims.

Anthony Parker said...

Why is everybody complaining about Connectmydna but I dont see anyone complaining about Dna Consultants and Dna Tribes? Connectmydna was honest and upfront about their test NOT being an ancestry test. The other CODIS companies are not.Call the Better Busines Bureau on them.

Anthony Parker said...

Connectmydna is not a scam at all.They tell you upfront their test is not an ancestry test and if you go to their website and look at their FAQ they tell you other companies that ARE ancestry tests. How is that a scam?

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