2 easy GEDmatch tools to start your genealogical research: for the GEDmatch beginner
Finding your DNA relatives is very exciting. Start with these 2 tools and go from there!
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Genomics is the Genomelink team’s passion and we have tried literally all kinds of DNA tests and websites out there. In this article, we’re introducing GEDmatch — one of the most popular tools to track down relatives using the raw data from 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, FTDNA or other DNA test results.
What is GEDmatch?
GEDmatch is a great “family finder” tool for people who are interested in tracking down relatives for free. It aids your genealogical research with the power of DNA. The core features include:
- One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result: Helps you compare your genetic profile with other GEDmatch users. Their emails are provided so you can quickly contact them if you get a hit.
- One-to-One Autosomal DNA Comparison: This helps you narrow down the comparison with one specific relative member. Use this to confirm how much DNA data you actually share with that person before you reach out.
- Admixture (heritage): This is a well-known analysis for identifying your ethnic roots. Like AncestryDNA and 23andMe, it shows the proportion of your DNA coming from a particular ethnicity / geography. It’s interesting to compare these results with that of other ancestry tests.
There are numerous tools listed on the GEDmatch homepage that you can use for different purposes (as pictured below). For first-timers, we recommend starting out with the 3 tools listed above (boxed in red in the image below).
How to use GEDmatch?
First, upload your DNA data from DNA testing companies like Ancestry.com. These companies allow you to download your own raw DNA data and upload that elsewhere to access different information, like GEDmatch.
List of companies whose raw data are compatible with GEDmatch (links to respective pages explaining how to download raw DNA data):
Once you’ve downloaded your raw data file, create a GEDmatch account and upload your data. (We’re writing a step-by-step guide on how to do this in another blog post). Note that it will take a few hours after uploading to see your results. They don’t notify you when it’s ready — but you can check the “Kit ID”, and if it says no kit registered yet, you need to wait a little longer.
How to understand the results?
Once your results are ready, you are able to explore a number of features on GEDmatch site. Here are two main tools:
1. One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result
When you click “One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result”, you can see the chart below.
How do you evaluate the results to determine who is a potential relative? Check “Overlap and Total cM” first — a DNA analysis on how much DNA you share with the people on your list.
Total cM” is the total length of all substantial segments you share with a DNA match. “Overlap” is the total number of overlapping SNPs that you share with your match. SNPs are “single nucleotide polymorphisms.” You can think of them simply as DNA letters important in determining your unique genetic profile.
The table* below summarizes the total cM expected from different degrees of relations within family. For example, if your parents’ data is on the Gedmatch database, they should show up as a match with over 3000 cM shared.
In conclusion, by checking “Overlap” and “Total cM”, you may find people who share significant portions of DNA with you — people who potentially are your newfound relatives!
You can then plug this information to a relevant genealogy website, to search for documents like birth records of your newfound potential relatives to corroborate it using traditional genealogy research methods.
2. One-to-One Autosomal DNA Comparison
Once you find someone who shares a good chunk of DNA data with you, you can start digging into the details of your DNA relationship with them. The image below is from the One-To-One DNA Comparison Result: it gives you a visual representation of which segments of your DNA you share with that person. What you want to see is how many blue chunks you have.
What else can we do with GEDmatch?
One-To-Many DNA Comparison Result and One-To-One DNA Comparison Result are awesome tools to start with. Besides those, here’s our recommendation for what else to try.
Try out Admixture / Oracle with Population Search. This helps you learn what genetic ethnicity you have based on publicly available genealogy databases such as MDLP, Eurogenes, Dodecad, etc. Here is a summary of the recommended databases to use based on your ethnicity.
MDLP — European
Eurogenes — European
Dodecad — Eurasians, Asians, Africans
HarappaWorld — South Asian
Ethiohelix — African
puntDNAL — (Unknown)
GedrosiaDNA — Eurasian (Indian and Asian)
If you’re new to GEDmatch, don’t get overwhelmed by the plethora of tools available. Try starting our with the One-To-Many DNA Comparison and the One-to-One Autosomal DNA Comparison. If you’re looking for a relative, there’s a chance they might show up by just using these 2 tools!
Keep in mind that GEDmatch tends to be a predominantly American database. So don’t despair if you don’t find any relatives on there. Do some googling to see if there are any other sites that offer more ethnicity-specific databases. As well, if ever in doubt, don’t hesitate to consult a genetic genealogist to help you understand the nuances in your GEDmatch reports.
This article was written by Genomelink team. Our mission is to help people learn and do more with their DNA data. Genomelink is a DNA data analysis platform where you can discover stuff about yourself from your DNA besides ancestry. Or 100+ genetic traits includes food & nutrition, personality, intelligence, fitness, and physical traits. Your first 25 traits are free. Join now!