LivingDNA entered the genetic genealogy landscape as a vendor in September of 2016, A British company, they were and remain focused on British Isles testers and ethnicity based on the POBI, People of the British Isles Study.
Initially, they provided only ethnicity results and high-level haplogroups, but added family matching relatively recently.
Please note that their family matching is imperfect, so exercise a great deal of caution.
This states that my mother’s kit, which I uploaded and own, has no matches.
My mother reportedly has no matches, including NOT TO ME. If I were to make a family inference from this, I would conclude that my mother is not my mother. That is very clearly not the case. For obvious reasons, it could be even more damaging within a family unit for a DNA company to report no matches between a father and child.
However, a second upload file from the same testing company for my mother at LivingDNA DOES reflect me as a match.
I have about 650 matches at LivingDNA, but I only share 141 matches with my mother. The rest would either be to my father’s side of the family, or identical by chance (IBC.)
LivingDNA has been promising a chromosome browser “soon” for several years now, since at least the fall of 2017 when I spoke to them at Genetic Genealogy Ireland in Dublin. That long-awaited day has arrived. You can view your matches in a chromosome browser and paint your segments with your matches at DNAPainter to obtain additional information.
To briefly review, the purpose of a chromosome browser is to identify specific segments of your DNA that you share in common with your matches. These common segments will be associated with your common ancestors, presuming the match is identical by descent (IBD) and not identical by chance (IBC.) If you’re unfamiliar, you can read about those concepts in the article Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance.
Assigning Common Segments
Of course, assigning common DNA segments with your matches to specific ancestors implies one of three things.
- A tree where you can identify a common ancestor or ancestral line with your match
- Shared matches with a family member you know
- Communications with your match to identify a shared ancestor
LivingDNA does not provide a tree function, so you cannot view other testers’ family trees. Neither do they provide a field for a link to an existing tree someplace else, so users are handicapped.
LivingDNA does provide a message facility, so you can message your matches and ask about their genealogy and where they may have a tree you can view.
Unless you recognize a match or your match provides you with a tree to view, you may only be able to identify common ancestors through previously identified shared matches.
Your best bet is identifying a cousin or other family member at LivingDNA. I only have one match that I can identify, and that’s my mother.
I can click on our 141 shared matches in common to view that list.
Unfortunately, my closest shared match with my mother is 36 cM. Matches are not listed in segment size order. LivingDNA is not popular outside of the British Isles, but you never know where a useful match will pop up.
My closest match, other than my mother, is Christopher with whom I share 101 cM across five segments.
Christopher does not share a match with my mother, and 101 cM is too large to be IBC, so my conclusion would be that Christopher and I share ancestors on my father’s side.
I viewed the 17 shared matches Christopher and I have in common, but I don’t recognize anyone from the other testing sites.
I could, of course, message Christopher and ask about his genealogy.
However, there’s another option too. Because I’ve been painting my known matches at DNAPainter, I can now paint my match with Christopher, which might identify our common ancestor or at least provide a significant hint.
My personal goal is to identify my DNA segments that descend from each ancestor, and to associate 100% of my DNA with an ancestor. Without knowing who our common ancestor is, painting matching segments is not terribly useful.
However, let’s say that I know who Christopher is, or that I recognize some of our 17 shared matches allowing me to identify our common ancestor(s).
By clicking on the right arrow, you’ll be able to view a selection menu.
By clicking on the blue Shared DNA Beta link, I can view my match with Christopher either on a chromosome browser, or in a table.
My common segments with Christopher are painted on my chromosomes, above.
Click on “table view” at the top to view only the segment data where Christopher matches me on chromosomes 1-22.
Painting at DNAPainter
Click on the “Copy segment data” tab in the upper right-hand corner to copy the segment data to paint at DNAPainter.
I have written several articles about using DNAPainter, which you can reference, here.
I selected “Paint a New Match” at DNAPainter, then pasted the copied segment information from LivingDNA.
Click on “Save Match Now’ in the lower right-hand corner.
You will need to select either the maternal or paternal side, or unknown.
We know that Christopher matches me on my father’s side because the match is large and we do not share my mother as a match.
Since I haven’t yet identified our common ancestor, I selected teal blue to differentiate the LivingDNA match.
As it turns out, Christopher at LivingDNA matches the same segments as another man named Christopher who tested at 23andMe. It’s the same person.
I identified my common ancestor with Christopher at 23andMe as Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy, my great-grandparents.
At DNAPainter, I’ve assigned segments of other descendants of this couple the color grey. You can easily see that the same segment on chromosome 14 is assigned to several other descendants of Lazarus Estes and Elizabeth Vannoy.
Therefore, the additional 17 shared matches at LivingDNA with Christopher, assuming they are valid IBD matches, would descend from the same genetic line, if not the same couple. In other words, some of that DNA might have descended to me from Lazarus or Elizabeth, but might have descended to Christopher or others through the parents of either Lazarus or Elizabeth, or another common upstream ancestor.
Every segment has its own unique ancestral history.
Thanks to DNAPainter
LivingDNA has joined the group of vendors who provide a complimentary chromosome browser and segment information for their customers. Other DNA testing vendors who do as well include 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, plus third-party GEDmatch.
A big thank you to DNAPainter for a comprehensive tool to track segments and assign them to ancestors in one easy-to-use all-inclusive tool.
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