dna-land-review

DNA Land review – The world’s largest family tree?

Rating based on our DNA Land review

7 facts from our DNA Land review

  1. DNA Land Location: USA
  2. Products: DNA data upload to DNA.land for trait and ancestry analysis
  3. Reports: ancestry breakdown, relative finder, several trait reports
  4. Report delivery: trait reports are delivered through the website
  5. Cost: Free
  6. Privacy: intends to use collected genetic data for research projects
  7. Alternatives: Nebula Genomics (free expanded DNA analysis; 30x whole genome sequencing), GEDmatch, Family Tree DNA, MyHeritage, DNA Painter

Introduction

This is a review of DNA Land, a company that collects genome data from users to build a scientific database for research. It was founded in 2015 by a group of researchers from the New York Genome Center and Columbia University. In 2019, DNA Land shut down as an academic institution website and relaunched as a for-profit company.

The team still comprises its founding members: Dr. Yaniv Erlich, Dina Zielinski, and Assaf Gordon. Due to the strict human-subject regulations, they deleted all datasets that were collected until September 30th, 2019. 

DNA Land partnered with the National Breast Cancer Coalition (NBCC) in 2017 to better understand the genetic risk for breast cancer.  In addition, Elrich is working with data from DNA Land and the website Geni.com to build the world’s largest family tree.

Are you interested in learning more about the latest genetic discoveries and how they apply to your DNA? Nebula Genomics offers Whole Genome Sequencing that will decode 100% of your DNA. It enables us to provide you with weekly updated reports that will empower you to stay on the cutting edge of science! Click here to learn more!

The DNA Land Service

Volunteers need to create an account with DNA Land and sign a 1500-word consent form. It also describes simply the risks and benefits of sharing genetic data without legal jargon. 

The website collects data like email addresses, genomic data, basic demographic information about the participant and immediate family, and traits. They also store phenotypes by providing questionnaires addressing physical and health traits. Each questionnaire pertains to a single trait, and users may choose which questionnaires to complete.

DNA Land provides free services as incentives to users who upload their genomic information. These include (i) an ancestry composition report, (ii) a relative finder, and (iii) prediction of interesting physical and wellness traits. It also imputes genetic information, which allows users to find genetic variations that were not part of the original file. 

The company also promises to add more unique features to their website in future.

Review of DNA Land Reporting

You start with uploading data to DNA.land. The site provides reports on ancestry, relatives, traits and impunity if you upload your raw DNA file. 

Review of DNA Land Ancestry Report

To find ancestry, they use a reference panel of over 6000 individuals organized into 40 populations (including Native Americans). They use the “Ancestry” program to look for similarities between user DNA composition to individuals in the reference populations. 

The ancestry report gives a breakdown of where the genes originate (Fig. 1a). It estimates ethnicity and gives a map of locations of closest DNA matches. In addition to the ancestry charts, a map showing the matched reference populations across the globe is offered (Fig. 1b,c). 

An actual breakdown of each population included or excluded from the report is also included. These also contain more information about the genetic makeup of these groups (Fig. 1d). 

Fig. 1a: Breakdown of the origin of genes and ethnicity.
Fig. 1a: Breakdown of the origin of genes and ethnicity.
Fig. 1b: Spread of the matched ethnic populations across the globe
Fig. 1b: Spread of the matched ethnic populations across the globe.
Fig. 1c: Percentage of the matched ethnic populations across the globe.
Fig. 1c: Percentage of the matched ethnic populations across the globe.
Fig. 1d: Actual breakdown of each population included and not included.
Fig. 1d: Actual breakdown of each population included and not included.

Review of DNA Land Relative Finder Report

Users can also find their closest relatives after uploading genomic data. The service calculates the similarity in shared DNA with different relatives. These calculations use the number of shared DNA segments and the total length of DNA shared to determine your matches. The report also includes a visualization of the segments that you share.

DNA Land Relative Finder Report.
DNA Land Relative Finder Report with chromosome browser.

Review of DNA Land Traits Prediction Report

DNA Land reports on the associations between genetic variants called single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs), and biological traits. The traits predicted are categorized as wellness (chronotype, coffee consumption, education) and physical (eye color, height, and near-sightedness). 

Each report predicts a trait-based on the user’s genomic information. It also compares the likelihood score with the available information in the database. 

First, the users take a survey before receiving the prediction DNA results. This allows the users to test the accuracy of the predictions made by the website.

An example of a survey is given:

User surveys.
User surveys.

The report generated by DNA Land based on the genomic data has three components.

The first segment of the report shows how likely a certain condition is for users, based on known genetic variants. Examples of this could be, using known genetic variants to suggest you are likely a morning person. The graphic also shows how this prediction compares with other DNA Land users.

DNA Land trait results.
DNA Land trait test results.

Next, the company details what genetic variants or SNPs (Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms) contribute to the predicted score of the trait. Also included is how large that contribution is. Users can also visualize the locations of these SNPs on the chromosomes by exploring the effect sizes graph.

DNA Land trait calculation.
DNA Land trait calculation.

Lastly, the report tabulates the most significant SNPs in the analysis. This information includes a detailed breakdown from supporting research. This includes the effect of each SNP and the genes where the variants are located.                     

SNPs in a DNA Land report.
SNPs in a DNA Land report.

These are interesting information available from the genome data to study the genetic contribution towards traits in humans. Locations of specific SNPs may indicate the genetic contribution towards the trait.

DNA Land Pricing

All the services offered by  DNA Land are free. Users can access their reports within a few hours to days, after uploading their genomic data. Additional reports can be obtained by filling out short surveys which help researchers in their studies. 

Review of DNA Land Privacy

DNA Land terms of consent assure it’s users of complete privacy with respect to personal information, individual survey results, or any uploaded user data. Users can link their social media profiles with the website, but the data is not shared by the company. 

The company may share personal data with selected partners who maintain good security practices, respect consent, and comply with regulation. The users can opt-out from this option although personal data can be released if required by law. 

Users who link their Geni.com accounts (a website for building family trees), can find information about other users with linked accounts.

The company deleted stored data in the academic version, when they became commercialized in 2019.

DNA Land in the news

DNA Land has enjoyed ample media coverage, mostly before separating from Columbia University and the New York Genome Center.  They have also published their genetic findings using user data in esteemed journals like Nature Genetics and eLife.

Yaniv Erlich gave a Ted talk in 2018, on building the world’s largest family tree using information from DNA Land and Geni.com.

Recently DNA Land has partnered with Luna DNA, a company that enables its to contribute to research and getting compensated. Check out our Luna DNA review!

DNA Land reviews

From multiple Reddit threads, users have found 23andMe more reliable in terms of accuracy than DNA Land. However, there’s general positive feedback owing to the fact that it’s a free service and provides unique genetic features that are particularly interesting for genetic genealogists. Some reviews are :

“Better user privacy than GEDMatch. More user friendly. Their ancient vs recent DNA analysis is useful in determining whether a person is a recent or distant match. Dr. Yaniv Erlich responds to feedback and is very involved with the genetic genealogy community. I just wish it had more users.”

“It’s free, but the DNA matching isn’t great, and the database is small. They have matches for me on that site that are also on other sites, but with cm numbers that are crazy high.”

There aren’t many DNA Land reviews yet of the new commercial version of the website.

DNA Land Pros/Cons 

Pros

  • The biggest pro for DNA Land is that its services are free.
  • Continuing improvement in reporting features more detailed and visually appealing ancestry reports. 
  • Unique features like imputation (using statistical inference to deduce unknown genotypes based on known ones) and shared genetic segments.
  • Users seem to have found more relatives than other testing companies too.
  • Users feel more connected to the ongoing genetic research by providing their genomic information.

Cons

  • Small genomic database.
  • Ancestry and trait results were not found to be as accurate when compared to other testing companies.
  • Many initial users found few or no matched relatives as other testing companies. 

Comparisons

We finish our DNA Land review with comparisons to Nebula Genomics and other genetic testing companies.

DNA Land23andMeAncestry DNANebula Genomics
DNA testingUses raw data files obtained from other companies.Uses genotyping instead of sequencing.Uses genotyping instead of sequencing.Offers 30x whole genome sequencing. Also, offers free raw DNA data upload.
Data upload optionsFree DNA report from uploaded data.No data upload options.No data upload options.Free expanded DNA report from uploaded user data.
Weekly updated reportingNoNoNoYes
Deep ancestry (Y-CHR and mtDNA sequencing)NoNoNoYes
ImputationIncludes imputation in the report processed from user uploaded data.No. Need to use other resources for imputation.No. Need to use other resources for imputation.Yes. Provides imputation results in expanded reports.

Did you like our DNA Land review? Take a look at this blog post that gives an overview of other DNA upload sites.

Also, check out our GEDmatch tutorial to learn how to use this powerful tool!

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