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Researchers Develop DNA GPS Tool To Accurately Trace Geographical Ancestry 69

Zothecula (1870348) writes "An international team of scientists has developed a process that allows them to pinpoint a person's geographical origin going back 1,000 years. Known as the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool, the method is accurate enough to locate the village from which the subject's ancestors came, and has significant implications for personalized medical treatment."
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Researchers Develop DNA GPS Tool To Accurately Trace Geographical Ancestry

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  • by Beck_Neard ( 3612467 ) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @05:53PM (#46909985)

    Just to be clear, they only did this for two populations of people: Sardinia and polynesia, both of which have the nice property that they are isolated and thus would not mix very much with the rest of the human population.

    • Also worth mentioning that the 'international team of scientists' appears to be a professor from England and a professor from California (and presumably their undergrads). Also, they are selling something.
    • It's looking pretty promising for Norfolk, though.
    • Sardinia and polynesia, both of which have the nice property that they are good places to go on holiday.


      Pure coincidence, I'm sure.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    "Known as the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) tool, the method is accurate enough to locate the village from which the subject's ancestors came"

    Short answer: No it isn't.

    Long answer: No it isn't.

    That is an astoundingly facile thing to claim. I'm British, heritage Scottish, English, some Irish -- for whatever that means (practically fuck all, genetically, given that the Scots, English and Irish have been interbreeding for millennia, and please spare me the "But the English came across in 500AD!!!!!!" s

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I have now read the article. It's a load of toss, and so is the summary. Ultimately they were able to take people from a modern day Polynesian island, or a Sardinian village, and say which island or village they were from.

      *slow handclap*

    • by mikael ( 484 )

      In the past, some researchers were able to link British surnames to DNA. And it is quite simple to link surnames to general geographic areas. So this just sounds like a rehash of this technique.

    • You know also, that the 200+ years of established Roman rule in Britain meant a huge garrison of legions from Spain, North Africa, Syria and Asia Minor. These were the "Romans" south of Hadrian's wall - and thoroughly intermixed with the "British" population, prior to ol' Vortigern being burnt in his tower. From Cheshire to York, up to the Scot border were very much near-eastern.
      • Huge garrison? Three, maybe four legions at most. Less than 20,000. Half a decent football crowd.

    • According to the actual paper's abstract []:

      Here we describe the Geographic Population Structure (GPS) algorithm and demonstrate its accuracy with three data sets using 40,000–130,000 SNPs. GPS placed 83% of worldwide individuals in their country of origin. Applied to over 200 Sardinians villagers, GPS placed a quarter of them in their villages and most of the rest within 50km of their villages. GPS’s accuracy and power to infer the biogeography of worldwide individuals down to their country or,

      • So the claims aren't as specific as some make it out to be.

        Pretty much what I'd suspected from RTFA, but I didn't try to follow the references.

        placed a quarter of them in their villages and most of the rest within 50km of their villages.

        Considering that Sardinia is less than 100km wide by 130km long (eyeballed from Gogle Maps), then getting more than 50km from the correct location is quite likely to involve getting one's feet and neck wet.

  • How did they obtain a record of which genes were in which village at which time?

    • Well you can use statistics. The people who currently live in the village probably have a strong correlation to a particular gene structure, Then the further out you go the correlation diminishes. So we get a good old bell curve.

      So if you take one in a different area and you see that they would correlate better to a different area, then chances are their family probably had came from there.

      We can tell in the United States already if someone is native to America, Asia, Europe, or Africa. We can know this w

  • I have a DNA sequence from 23andme. I'd like to see the first service do any kind of analysis where I can upload my genome sequence and see the results of the analysis.

  • GPS is already taken by something else. This could cause some confusion.
  • by clovis ( 4684 ) on Saturday May 03, 2014 @06:12PM (#46910071)

    Don't read the moronic gizmag article. (yeah I know, /., as if)
    See this: []
    It's pretty cool stuff.

  • Enough said.

    • by prefec2 ( 875483 )

      No it is not. Read the fine (nature) article. Furthermore, there are no human races. Race implies human-driven selective breeding.

      BTW: A racist implies that there are certain groups of humans which are better (on an absolute scale) than other and that they are therefore superior and should rule over the other or even exterminate (greeting from the daleks) those other humans. In reality we are all different and in that property we are all equal, especially in rights. At least in theory that is. In Reality we

      • by Baldrson ( 78598 ) *

        Race []: "Race is a classification system used to categorize humans into large and distinct populations or groups by anatomical, cultural, ethnic, genetic, geographical, historical, linguistic, religious, and/or social affiliation."

        This study is enabling not only genetic but geographical distinctions. The connective "and/or" is synonymous with the logic connective "or" which is inclusive.

        Racist []: "Some definitions consider that any assumption that a person's behavior would be influenced by their racial categor

  • Wow, this sounds like a really great idea. Except that 50 generations ago, there were theoretically 2^49 possible contributors to my DNA. Of course that number, 562,949,953,421,312, is far greater than the total number of humans who have ever lived, which implies that most of my ancestors must be "repeats". To put that another way, we are ALL inbred in the grand scheme of things. A familial relationship can be established between any given pair of living humans by going back less than 50 generations. That's
  • But my ancestors were nomadic native Americans, you insensitive clods!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a technique with significant problems and that can and will give fairly meaningless results. Go back 1000 years and you don't have one ancestor you could have millions if not billions of ancestors, the vast majority from which you inherit nothing.

    Not to mention the dodgy nature of authors declaring they have no financial interests in the paper then set up a company selling the results for a profit.

    For proper look at the paper see the comments by one of the original reviewers:

  • Which Island? It might work on a small island like Mauke (in the Cooks) but it isn't going to work with The North Island.

  • Hint: even if your chosen phrase is the one that perfectly describes your invention, discovery or whatever, it's best to check that its initialism isn't already in popular use for something else.

    (inventor of the individual biometric measurer)

  • Taking the science for what it is, I plunked down the $42 for the super test and have received nothing yet. It has been 2 days and my screen still says "90% done". When you go onto the forums and ask about it, you see there are numerous people with the same problem. The company has replied simply saying, "This is because of some person's DNA files have exceptional features.", but noting more. Calls for support go unanswered, even though the "super" test is supposed to give you priority support.

    For the

  • Assuming an average child-bearing age of 20, 1000 years back would span 50 generations. 50 generations of parentage is well over 1 billion people. How could anybody in the modern world's lineage possibly be traced back to one (or even 4) location?

In the realm of scientific observation, luck is granted only to those who are prepared. - Louis Pasteur