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What Ancestry Information Can I Learn from 23andMe?

23andMe® brings the world of genetics to you. There are two service options available to choose from: Ancestry + Traits Service and Health + Ancestry Service. Both service options include the ancestry reports and features outlined in this article. Learn more about the service options.

Find out what your genetics say about your ancestry. 23andMe analyses variations at specific positions in your genome. These variations, called SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms), have the potential to tell you about your ancestry. Each Ancestry report looks at a unique aspect of your family story.

Ancestry Composition Report | DNA Relatives Feature | Haplogroup Reports
Neanderthal Ancestry Report

You can also learn more about how your DNA is used in our Ancestry reports, by selecting the different types of DNA:

  • Autosomal DNA (chromosomes 1-22)
  • X chromosome
  • Y chromosome (males only)
  • Mitochondrial DNA
Autosomal DNA (chromosomes 1-22)

Autosomal DNA refers to the 22 non-sex chromosomes, which makes up the bulk of your genome. For each pair of these chromosomes one comes from your mother and the other from your father: two copies of the same recipe with slightly different ingredients. The autosomes - along with the X sex chromosome - are what we use to determine your DNA Relatives, your Ancestry Composition results, and many other features.

Since you inherited sections of your autosomal DNA from all your recent ancestors, this type of DNA is used to tell you about your recent ancestry. Your autosomal DNA is also used to tell you about your Neanderthal ancestry. The analysis of the 22 autosomes is the same for women and men and provides the same information and level of detail.


X chromosome

The X chromosome and Y chromosome are referred to as sex chromosomes because they determine if you are female (XX) or male (XY). Women inherited two copies of the X chromosome - one from each parent - while men inherited one X chromosome from their mother and one Y chromosome from their father.

You inherited sections of your X chromosome DNA from particular ancestors on your family tree. This type of DNA is used along with your autosomal DNA to tell you about your recent ancestry and your Neanderthal ancestry.


Y chromosome

The X chromosome and Y chromosome are referred to as sex chromosomes because they determine if you are female (XX) or male (XY). Men inherited one Y from their father and one X from their mother. Women did not inherit a Y chromosome. This type of DNA is used to tell men about the origins of their patrilineal (your father's father's father's) line.


Women can learn about this ancestry from the haplogroup assignment of their father, brother or paternal uncle. Depending on the information you would like to learn, one relative might be preferable:

  • Your brother’s genotyped sample will provide your mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroup and your Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroup.
  • A genotyped sample from your father’s or father’s brother will provide your Y-chromosome (paternal) haplogroup, but not your mitochondrial (maternal) haplogroup since he does not share your mother.

Haplogroups are one small part of your ancestry analysis. The 23andMe Personal Genetic Service provides you with information from all branches of your family tree using your autosomal DNA.

Mitochondrial DNA

All of us have mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). Since your mitochondrial DNA is inherited intact from your mother - and she received it from her mother, and so on - it can shed light on the ancient origins of your maternal ancestors. Maternal haplogroups are families of mitochondrial DNA types that all trace back to a single mutation at a specific place and time. By looking at the geographic distribution of mtDNA types, we learn how our ancestral female ancestors migrated throughout the world.



Ancestry Composition

The 23andMe Ancestry Composition report is available in both the Ancestry + Traits Service and the Health + Ancestry Service. This report uses DNA you inherited from both sides of your family and tells you the proportion of your DNA that comes from each of 45 worldwide genetic populations, offering a detailed view of your ancestry from before ocean-crossing ships and airplanes were on the scene. The report also compares your DNA to individuals of known ancestry from over 150 countries and territories in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania, telling you more about where your recent ancestors may have lived.



DNA Relatives Feature

The 23andMe DNA Relatives feature is available in both the Ancestry + Traits Service and the Health + Ancestry Service and requires customers to opt-in to the feature to access it. This is a popular, interactive feature that allows you to find and connect with genetic relatives and see specific DNA segments you share with them. The DNA Relatives feature can identify relatives on any branch of your recent family tree by taking advantage of the autosomal chromosomes—the 22 chromosomes that are passed down from your ancestors on both sides of your family—and the X chromosome.



Haplogroup Reports

The 23andMe Haplogroup reports are available in both the Ancestry + Traits Service and the Health + Ancestry Service. These reports tell you about the ancient origins of your matrilineal and patrilineal ancestors. Haplogroups are assigned by finding the genetic variants that are unique to each group. These genetic variants typically originated tens of thousands of years ago. Women and men both receive Maternal Haplogroup report based on their mitochondrial DNA; men also receive a Paternal Haplogroup report based on their Y chromosomes.


Note: Your matrilineal ancestors include your mother, her mother, her mother's mother, etc., and your patrilineal ancestors include your father, his father, his father's father, etc.


Neanderthal Ancestry

The 23andMe Neanderthal Ancestry report is available in both the Ancestry + Traits Service and the Health + Ancestry Service. This report tells you if parts of your DNA can be traced back to Neanderthals. Neanderthals were ancient humans who interbred with modern humans before becoming extinct 40,000 years ago.



Common Questions

What is the difference between the Ancestry + Traits Service and the Health + Ancestry Service?

The Health + Ancestry Service includes reports on carrier status*, health predisposition - including genetic health risk*, and wellness whereas the Ancestry + Traits Service does not.

Customers who purchase the Ancestry + Traits Service will have the option to add all of the existing Carrier Status*, Health Predisposition (including Genetic Health Risk*), and Wellness reports later for an additional fee.

Both services include the Ancestry reports—Ancestry Composition, Haplogroups, Your DNA Family, and Neanderthal Ancestry—Traits reports, and access to the DNA Relatives feature and your raw, uninterpreted genetic data file** (must not be used for medical or diagnostic purposes).

Compare Service Options.


How can I add health reports to the Ancestry + Traits Service?

After your ancestry data is ready to view, you have the ability to add reports on wellness, health predisposition - including genetic health risk* , and carrier status* from within your 23andMe account.

Important: This option is only available for customers who purchased the 23andMe Ancestry Service (now called the 23andMe Ancestry + Traits Service) and shipped the order to a country eligible to receive health-related reports.


Will I receive a printed copy of my results?

A summary of your reports as well as select 23andMe reports are printable through your account on our secure website. You must log in to your 23andMe account on our secure website to view your information. While some reports are printable, we do not include a printed report through the mail or provide your data via email.

You will need access to a computer or mobile device that connects to the internet. The 23andMe website supports the latest versions of Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. We recommend using the most up-to-date browser version available. You will also need access to a valid email address from which you can send and receive messages in order to set up a 23andMe account.


What reference populations are included in 23andMe?

The Ancestry Composition report - available in both the Ancestry Service and the Health + Ancestry Service - tells you what percent of your DNA comes from each of 45 populations worldwide. The reference populations aim to capture the genetic patterns around the world as it was before the widespread migrations of the past few hundred years.

In addition, Ancestry Composition now compares your DNA to individuals of known ancestry from over 150 countries and territories in Europe, Africa, the Americas, Asia, and Oceania, to generate a more detailed report you where your recent ancestors may have lived.

View Ancestry Composition Reference Populations.


Can 23andMe distinguish half vs. full sibling relationships?

Yes; if you and your sibling have both been genotyped by 23andMe, there are two features - DNA Relatives and Family Tree - that will help you to identify whether and to what degree you are related each other. Learn more.


Information for women

The vast majority of our features, including the Ancestry Composition report and DNA Relatives feature, are based on autosomal DNA. Autosomal DNA is inherited from both parents, and women receive all these reports and features.

While men can trace both their maternal haplogroup (from mitochondrial DNA) and their paternal haplogroup (through the Y chromosome passed down from their father), women can only trace their maternal haplogroup (through the mitochondrial DNA passed down from their mother). This is because the paternal haplogroup is traced through the Y chromosome, which women do not inherit.

Keep in mind that haplogroups are one small part of your ancestry analysis. If a male relative such as your father, brother, paternal uncle or paternal male cousin were genotyped, your own paternal haplogroup information could be inferred from any of them.


*The 23andMe PGS test uses qualitative genotyping to detect select clinically relevant variants in the genomic DNA of adults from saliva for the purpose of reporting and interpreting genetic health risks and reporting carrier status. It is not intended to diagnose any disease. Your ethnicity may affect the relevance of each report and how your genetic health risk results are interpreted. Each genetic health risk report describes if a person has variants associated with a higher risk of developing a disease, but does not describe a person’s overall risk of developing the disease. The test is not intended to tell you anything about your current state of health, or to be used to make medical decisions, including whether or not you should take a medication, how much of a medication you should take, or determine any treatment. Our carrier status reports can be used to determine carrier status, but cannot determine if you have two copies of any genetic variant. These carrier reports are not intended to tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease in the future, the health of your fetus, or your newborn child's risk of developing a particular disease later in life. For certain conditions, we provide a single report that includes information on both carrier status and genetic health risk. For important information and limitations regarding each genetic health risk and carrier status report, visit

**This data has undergone a general quality review however only a subset of markers have been individually validated for accuracy. The data from 23andMe’s Browse Raw Data feature is suitable only for informational use and not for medical, diagnostic or other use. Consult with a healthcare professional before making any major lifestyle changes.


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