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May 5, 2014 AT 1:00 pm

Scientists develop GPS for DNA

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Scientists have developed a GPS tool for your DNA, from Geek.

This technique relies on parsing out so-called genetic admixture, a process by which previously separated populations recombine over time and interbreed. The tool makes estimates about a subject’s genetic origins by using 100,000 DNA signatures as a baseline. The researchers claim the tool is considerably more powerful than previous methods because it uses all 44 diploid autosomal chromosomes, as opposed to the two sex chromosomes.

To demonstrate the effectiveness of GPS, the researchers tested residents of 10 villages in Sardinia. The results of this test placed 25% in the correct village, and the remainder in less than 50km of their true origins. Residents of 20 islands in Oceania were also analyzed using GPS, with 90 being placed on the right island based entirely on their DNA.

It’s actually a remarkably simple tool when you get down to it — GPS is essentially triangulating a person’s geographic origin based on genetic ratios. That’s why it gives an exact location that might be close to, but a few miles away from, a person’s ancestral village. This also means GPS is more useful for individuals who have fairly uniform heritage — someone whose parents were from vastly different backgrounds might be placed in the middle of an ocean. Although, the system offers more data on genetic makeup than the final location.

Read more.


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