Sunday, September 12, 2010

"Ashkenazi and Me": Making a case for the Euro DNA Calculator application using ancestry analysis tools from 23andMe

Some time ago, I ran my raw 23andMe data through the Euro DNA Calculator Application. (Euro-DNA-Calc, compiled by Dienekes Pontikos, computes an admixture estimate with Northwestern European, Southeastern European, or Ashkenazi Jewish parental populations. The calc uses 300 markers from a scientific study.)  I was surprised to find that it estimated 86% NW European and 14% Ashkenazi for me.

My Euro-DNA-Calc Chart

Interestingly, my mother showed no Ashkenazi at all in her results with a 100% NW European prediction. Since I have no known Jewish heritage, after some research into the application, I disregarded it.

When 23andMe's Ancestry Finder was launched and began noting Ashkenazi segments, I noticed a spot on my Chromosome 7 that appeared to have a clump of self-declared Ashkenazi matches. When 23andMe started providing the download of the matches associated with Ancestry Finder, I saw that I had no less than 21 "Ashkenazi" matches on Chromosome 7 between 53.3m and 94.3m. My mother had none. These matches all appeared to be rather small and only on that one spot, but it did get me thinking about the possibility of distant Jewish ancestors again.

My Ancestry Finder chart set at 1 Ashkenazi grandparent

Since my father is deceased, I asked my paternal uncle to test in his place. Yesterday, I received his results. There, clear as day, on his Chromosome 7 appears that same Ashkenazi clump that I have (plus a little more: he has 37 self-described Ashkenazi matches on Chromosome 7 on the Ancestry Finder download).

Paternal Uncle's AF chart set at 1 Ashkenazi grandparent
Paternal Uncle's AF chart set at 4 Ashkenaki grandparents

Equally as significant, I could immediately see that he has a number of Public Matches in Relative Finder who list their ancestry as Jewish. Most of them are predicted as "Distant Cousin", which probably explains why they didn't show up in my Relative Finder. In this case, testing just one more generation back revealed very useful information.

While this Ashkenazi ancestry is clearly quite distant, it certainly appears to be authentic after all. Although the Euro DNA Calc greatly overestimated the likely percentage, it does seem to have picked up on legitimate Ashkenazi markers in my DNA.

Bravo, Dienekes!


  1. Thanks,

    It'd be interesting to see what your uncle's Euro-DNA-CALC results are.

  2. CeCe,
    I ran the same comparison (NWEuro 69; 37-100)(SEEuro 31; 0-63) (Ash 0; 0-7). I also have no obvious Ash ancestry, although I do have significant East Euro contribution.
    23andMe shows significant self-described Ash, particularly on Chr 11, and I do have several matches with people of Ash descent.
    I guess I must conclude some possibility of distant Ash ancestry, despite conflicting results.

    Jim Mulvihill

  3. sounds interesting but way over my head. i'm going to tell my sister about it - she's the one who's doing the genealogy in our family.

  4. Isn't the likeliest scenario that your father has a single Ashkenazi grandparent? 12.5% would be expected, and that's close to 14. That grandparent could represent a convert or even a so-called non-paternity event.

  5. Great detective work. Ive been excited to get the latest sale results from 23andme back (due any day now) I have data from myself and my uncle. Its neat to see what you can do with DNA from multiple family members.

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  7. CeCe,

    Did you ever check your uncle's Euro-DNA-Calc results, which Dieneke was curious about?

  8. I am 99.8 % European,,with a 1% Ashkenazi %...+ or -, according to 23andme....Can anyone tell me what this means? I'm very interested but DNA dumb...

    1. Hi Heather,
      It means that you have a distant Jewish ancestor.