Gedmatch: a DNA geek’s dream site

Great DNA utility website

It occasionally surprises The Legal Genealogist to realize that not everyone is ready, willing and able to test with every DNA company on the planet, or at least in the United States. Just because doing a full round of tests with Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA and others will set you back somewhere in the neighborhood of a grand or more is no reason not to let loose your inner DNA geek, is it?

Oh. Yeah. Right.

There is that little problem of the mortgage and the kids’ school clothes and that doctor bill and…

Sigh… Don’t you just hate it when real life interferes with what you want to do?

So to fill in some of the gaps, at least for autosomal DNA tests, let me introduce you to a wonderful website: GEDmatch.com, with tools for genetic genealogy research that carry a whopping big price tag of exactly zero. That’s not a typo. The site is free, though donations are gratefully accepted and anybody who uses the site really should kick in — it isn’t cheap to provide the kind of computing power Gedmatch provides.

The brainchild of Curtis Rogers and John Olson (a distant DNA cousin of mine), Gedmatch offers a range of utilities that make it a little easier to extract every bit of potentially useful information out of your autosomal test results. Autosomal DNA testing, remember, is the kind that works across gender lines so you don’t have to find a direct male line from father to son to son (YDNA or Y-DNA1) or a direct female line from mother to daughter to daughter (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA2). It particularly helps you identify cousins with whom you can share research.3

To use the site to full advantage, you need to download your raw autosomal DNA test results and match lists from your testing company and then upload them to Gedmatch. Both Family Tree DNA and 23andMe make raw data available — AncestryDNA does not — and directions for downloading are on the Gedmatch site. Gedmatch works with the raw results from deCODEme as well. And you can upload a GEDCOM with your family tree to see if you can identify common lines, using technology to help with traditional paper-trail genealogy too.

Although you do have to provide your email address and the exact name you used with your testing company, you don’t have to use your name publicly. You can be John’s Mom, or CountryCuzzin, if you prefer. You don’t have to make any of your information public if you’d rather not, although the utility of the website is limited if you don’t.

Once you’ve uploaded all the files — and there’s more than one to upload — you’re ready to start playing with the utilities.

First, you can compare your results with the results of all other Gedmatch users who’ve made their results public — no matter what company they’ve tested with:

The results can be sorted by the total amount of DNA you have in common with others, measured in units called centimorgans or cM,4 by the longest segment you share, by the number of generations you’re likely distant from your matches and more. Email addresses of your matches may be listed, but can’t be copied-and-pasted to protect them from harvesting by spammers.

You can choose to see information about selected matches in a chromosome browser. Here’s what my results look like against my two uncles and my aunt on Chromosome 1:

And there are several matrix displays available that will display your selected matches not only as they match you but as they match each other, including a very useful option for displaying estimated distance to the most recent common ancestor.

There’s a genetic distance calculator, a relationship calculator, the ability to triangulate on match results to see how you and your match relate to others, a tool for checking to see if your parents are related to each other, and more.

One of my favorite tools is a quick and easy tool labeled “People who match one person, but not the other …and people who match the same 2 people.” I use it to see others that I have in common with a match, and it quickly produces a chart showing information as to how each of us compares to each common match. The chart does have email addresses, deleted here in this example showing matches I share with an uncle.

There’s more than enough here to satisfy your inner DNA geek. You can phase data — if you and one or both of your parents have tested, this utility will help identify what portions of your DNA came from which parent.

And there are six different options for displaying admixture (ethnicity or deep ancestry) data — and each of the six has options galore. Here’s my admixture under just one of those options:

If that’s not enough, you can even get your very own personal chromosome painting:

For anybody interested in learning more about DNA, or even just playing around with results, this is one cool set of utilities. Kudos to Gedmatch, a DNA geek’s dream site!


 
SOURCES

  1. ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki), “Y chromosome DNA test,” rev. 23 Jul 2011.
  2. ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki), “Mitochondrial DNA,” rev. 30 Jul 2010.
  3. ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki), “Autosomal DNA,” rev. 8 Feb 2012.
  4. ISOGG Wiki (http://www.isogg.org/wiki), “Centimorgan,” rev. 24 Jul 2010.
Print Friendly
This entry was posted in DNA. Bookmark the permalink.

70 Responses to Gedmatch: a DNA geek’s dream site

  1. Nancy Schlegel says:

    My results are in, my results are in! (Ancestry DNA, this morning, sent in a week after you!)

    Highest matches in 4th – 6th cousin range (wasn’t expecting more, but one can hope!) … and AT LAST a few German names among the mix!

    Besides matches, another hope for doing test was more meaningful breakdown than FamilyTreeDNA currently has.

    For my paternal German / Lutheran + maternal Austrian / Jewish heritage,

    Family Finder: 85% Tuscan, 15% Basque, Finnish, French, Orcadian, Russian, Spanish

    Ancestry DNA: 43% Central European, 38% European Jewish, 17% British Isles, 2% unknown

    As you reported last week, much better! Don’t get me wrong, the rest of Family Finder was been terrific! – reporting matches to Brook Schreier Ganz, and Bennett Greenspan’s wife.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Congrats on getting your results — wouldn’t have minded if you’d matched ME, but no such luck, darn it!

  2. Nancy Schlegel says:

    That’ve been way-cool! … but would’ve been interesting why didn’t also match up at FamilyTreeDNA :-)

    Dashed out of door yesterday, late to an all-day outing (having totally lost track of time with arrival of results), so just getting around to thanking you for THIS post… I’ve tried a couple of matching sites, thought this was one of them, but never found this level of info! So thanks for spur to review what I did and figure out how I missed!

  3. Judy,

    Thank you so much for highlighting GedMatch. This sounds right up my alley. One of my greatest frustrations with FamilyTreeDNA has been all those potential matches with nothing to show for it. We’ve made no confirmed connection on either of the two kits I manage. This is not a fault of FamilyTreeDNA but I think the more sites you can share your raw data on the better chances of finally making a genetic cousin connection ‘real’ through a genealogical connection. Can’t wait to try it out.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I understand the frustration, Rory — it’s a tough road to hoe to trace those matches and often it just can’t be done. So any and all tools we can find — good additions to the mix.

  4. Heather K. says:

    Love Gedmatch! Did you click on the oracle?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I did… but I’ll be honest and say I’m not sure exactly what it was trying to tell me… Wanna teach me?

      • Heather K. says:

        Single Population are population groups your DNA matches with most likely toward the top. Mixed population groups takes the two groups from the admixture with the largest percentages, for example Western European and Mediterranean from your Dodecad chart above. The primary population (Western European) includes population groups your DNA matches with most likely toward the top. The secondary group (Mediterranean) lists population groups your DNA matches with most likely toward the top.

        That’s how it was explained to me anyway and with reading the differences between the admixtures seem to be accurate.

  5. Pingback: 2012 Top 10 Genetic Genealogy Happenings | DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy

  6. Melvin Brown says:

    I need to know if I have native American heritage but I can’t afford to pay the costs. Can you help me please?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Without either a documented paper trail or a DNA test, Melvin, nobody can tell you if you have native American heritage. You’re going to have to pay the piper one way or the other to know for sure.

  7. Kris and Patsy Sjostrom says:

    How will we be able our AncestryDNA autosomal test information?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Soon, GedMatch will allow you to upload your data there to compare to others who’ve uploaded their data from any of the testing companies. And after May 1, you can do the same at Family Tree DNA for a fee — and that’s where you’ll get your best results for your data since there are great tools available there.

  8. Erin Young says:

    Can’t get on the site – just get a blank screen with Error at the top. Please explain what I’m doing wrong.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I’m not sure, Erin. The site comes right up for me, using Google Chrome and Firefox.

      • Debbie Doyle says:

        not sure if my dna completed it’s upload. how do I check?
        Got this message:

        Kits marked with * have not been tokenized and have not completed batch processing.
        I’m confused

        • Judy G. Russell says:

          After you upload, it takes some time to have all the data processing done. If your kit hasn’t completed batch processing, that’s all — it needs more time.

  9. ray says:

    are the results from dodecad and the other tools really accururate because i’ve had some surprising results.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Ray, none of the results are “really accurate” because they’re all constantly in the process of being revised to reflect new and additional data. We’re a long way away from being able to consider any of these admixture percentage tools “really accurate.”

  10. Raymond Scott says:

    Great review article, Judy.

    I found out through Gedmatch that my mother and I are related to you.
    22 cM total
    16 cM longest

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      It’s a great site, Raymond — and as for being related to me, you have my sympathies!! (Seriously I have a lot of kits on Gedmatch using variations of mail addresses on my personal domain, so depending on which kit it is, it may not be me, but rather a cousin.)

  11. Weldon Brown says:

    Can’t find my uploaded info for kit f233490. Is it there or just maybe not completed yet. Should I delete and start over ?

  12. Theresa Ager says:

    Could you please explain what it means when it says 3.7 generations to MRCA. I understand most recent common ancestor, but I don’t understand 3.7.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      It’s an estimate of how far back, in generations, you have to go to find your most recent common ancestor. You to your parent is one, to your grandparents two, to your great grandparents three, and this is estimating that you’re much closer to having your 2nd great grandparents as common ancestors with your match than your great grandparents. But please keep in mind: this is an estimate only and it’s often wildly inaccurate because of the random way autosomal DNA is inherited.

  13. sue robinett says:

    what is the gedmatch site administers email address? It says to contact you if you have problems but doesn’t geive the amil address

  14. Christian B says:

    Hello! I noticed that this article is from a long time ago. However I was wondering if you could tell me. What project do you think is the most accurate on Gedmatch admixute?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Christian, there’s no really good answer to that question. Each test has its benefits and drawbacks as the reference populations are different. I’d suggest running your results through several to see where they differ and where they are the same.

  15. Mary Anne says:

    Is there any place I can see a regional breakdown? I am not sure what North-East Europe, or West Asian, etc. mean? I have been looking for maps without much success. Thank you.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      You’re going to need to do some research to figure out what the reference populations are, I’m afraid. Googling each test type with the phrase reference population may help.

  16. Les Cahn says:

    Are there any security issues to be concerned with when uploading raw DNA to Gedmatch? Ancestry has a cautionary statement when you try to download the raw data so I wonder if I should be concerned about sharing this? Thanks.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      In theory, some portion of your identity that you didn’t choose to disclose and of your health risks could be determined by a very sophisticated fellow user of GedMatch who did a careful analysis of your results versus his or her own results. In reality, darned few people know enough or are motivated enough to bother. So is there any risk? Sure. Is there a risk high enough to warrant not using this tool? Not to me. Your mileage may vary.

  17. Judy:

    How many matches on a segment would you say definitely proves that you share that particular common ancestor? Also, I am matching “cousins” back prior to 1600 no problem. Only problem, I see, is that I am trying to come up with some sort of spreadsheet to follow all my leads. Since I have submitted five kits and waiting on number six from Ancestry, it is a lot of information. Wish they’d hurry up on the batching!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      It isn’t the number of matches on a segment as much as it is that you have one or more segments of a size to suggest that the segment is shared by reason of inheritance (“identity by descent” or IBD) and not random chance (“identity by state” or IBS).

  18. Chanelle Stigger says:

    Hello, I have recently received my results from 23andme. I wanted to upload my results to GEDmatch but I think the site is still down. Do you know when the site will be back up?

  19. kathy dunn says:

    It’s up now, I just got results from 23andme and uploaded them last night

  20. Sherry Hicks says:

    I am new to dna genealogy so I hope my question doesn’t seem silly. Anyways…I am trying to pinpoint a dead end on one family group. I have had my mother, one of her first cousins, and a second cousin tested, (waiting on results of another second). Which the common ancestors would be my mother’s paternal grandparents. If I make a chromosome spreadsheet would I use each of their entire end and start numbers or only the ones they share in common. It seems to me, that it would be only the ones in which they share, so therefore looking for others who fall between these chromosome values should be my mission. Correct???

    Thanks for your time,
    Sherry

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      You’re looking for people who are AROUND the same values, Sherry, since remember: each and every time the autosomes are passed on, they get randomly mixed and jumbled. So some cousins may overlap a segment completely and others may overlap only part of a segment (or none of it). And remember that you get TWO copies of each chromosome so even if someone LOOKS like he matches your mother and her first cousin, he may match each of them on a different copy of the chromosome.

  21. Linda Johnson says:

    Judy, your blog post today, 13 May 2014, on ethical standards for genetic genealogy has finally prompted me to ask for clarification about something in your GEDmatch post of 12 August 2012. Not having used GEDmatch, I’m uncertain what the statement, above, that “you can compare your results with the results of all other Gedmatch users who’ve made their results public,” actually means. Does it mean that GEDmatch will display the names, kit numbers and e-mail addresses of all matches for User X, who has agreed to make his/her information public, or only the names, kit numbers and e-mail addresses from User X’s match list of people who have themselves given GEDmatch permission to make their results public? If the answer is the former, I don’t feel I have the right to upload my match lists without the permission of each and every match (and lots of luck getting several hundred people to reply to a request).

    Many thanks for your much anticipated input.

    Linda

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Linda, I personally agree that we should NOT upload our match lists to Gedmatch. Uploading our own raw data, fine. But the match lists… no.

      • Linda Johnson says:

        Does GEDmatch offer the option to upload only one’s own raw data without the match lists?

        • Judy G. Russell says:

          As of right now, I don’t even see a place to upload the match list any more. It’s just your own raw autosomal and X-DNA files they want.

  22. Ashton says:

    Can someone please help me with this?? I am half English and half Italian. My ethnic Admixtures look correct for this, and in One and Two Populations Sharing I get pretty good Results overall, i.e., things like English, Kent, West-Central German, Tuscan, North Italian, and South Italian-Sicilian, yet in Three and Four Populations Sharing, “Greek” keeps coming up almost constantly. In Harappa World, it is designated as “Southern Greek” and “Central Greek”. Albeit, people move around, but none of my ancestry was from anywhere near areas of Ancient Greek colonial contact, my Italian lineages are from Tuscany and Abruzzi, so that scenario is highly unlikely. Could these readings just be speculations based on Mediterranean geographic and or genetic proximity, or does this necessarily really indicate actual Admixture from Greece proper? Any help with this is greatly appreciated. GEDmatch Kit # M213249

  23. Dee says:

    What does the message “mysql_connect ERROR (10sel)” mean? Why are there so many ongoing problems when attempting to use GEDmatch?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      GedMatch is a free, volunteer-run website that depends on donations to be able to operate at all. Trying to set it up and keep it running in the face of all the user demands is a daunting task. Sometimes there are database problems (that’s what the mysql error message means) and we just have to be patient. (Right as I type this, for example, the whole site is down.) The one thing every user CAN do, to help, is donate. When the site comes back up, that’s what we all should do!

  24. Ashton says:

    Judy, thank you very much, and now it makes more sense. Being 50% Italian and 50% English, on 23andMe my total SNP matches are to Italy, Britain/Ireland, and France/Germany, and that’s it. To me, it’s pretty obvious that the Germany to Britain convergence, seen on both 23andMe and GEDmatch, is due to Germanic Admixture from the Anglo-Saxon epoch, and on GEDmatch itself, this hypothetical “Greek” showing, is probably nothing more than a genetic affinity, perhaps dating from a period such as the Neolithic. For these speculative reasons in regards to Autosomal DNA, it is almost easier for me to use the Haplogroups per se as a more effective and identifiable method of reckoning ethnic ancestry, even though they represent much smaller portions of our make-up overall. Yet, they are in many ways, more concrete. Example, from my English side, my Y Haplogroup is I2a1-L233, and the consensus on this Subclade is that it originated on the NW coast of what is now Germany, and arrived in Britain in the Dark Ages. My MtDNA Haplogroup, from my Italian side, is J2a1, a minor J Subclade, historically connected to the ancient Alps.

  25. toshie says:

    I show 5.3 percent Southern. What does this mean? thx

  26. Kathy says:

    Thanks for the info on GEDmatch. I only learned of it a couple weeks ago. They’re in the middle of changing servers, so I have to wait before uploading.

    Why do people buy the test, get their results, and never to anything with it? They don’t upload their tree. They restrict their matches to ONLY the projects they’re in. (My brother has matches in a project at FT-DNA that don’t show up as a match for him anywhere else on the site.) It’s so restrictive and unhelpful. What a waste.

    BUT… I’m glad to hear of GEDmatch and will upload as soon as I can.

    Thanks again for the info!

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      The “why would you test if you’re not going to get going with it” question is one that frustrates us all, Kathy — but there are some good reasons why people might test and never want to post a tree or respond to inquiries. They may have tested solely to get an answer to one specific question, and really not want to be in touch with anyone else. I try, hard, to understand that — and fail routinely. I have two current matches at 23andMe who haven’t responded to contact requests. One is at a projected second cousin level. The other is at a projected first cousin level. And my curiosity about both of these is about to kill me.

  27. Connie says:

    I was noticing on the chart you displayed it has a “T” in the Triangulate column. In the gedmatch results which are displayed for my matches- I don’t seem to see that Triangulate column. Is that something they no longer do? Or is there a mode I have to be in for that to appear?

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      No, that feature has been disabled for the time being because of the computing demands. Keep an eye out for it to return down the road (we hope!).

  28. Jen says:

    I upload my dna from Ancestry.com, but somehow I have three kit numbers, is this normal or did I do something wrong and should I delete two?

  29. Louise says:

    I have left question on ged Match genforum but no answer. I can not find an email address for Gedmatch to ask them. I really think that there is a possible error in their uploaded information since they are having some problems. Our kit #F339358 has been posted for several months. A known distant cousin has submitted his information kit A722251. If you put these in one to one match you get over 30 cnM on a chromosome but if you search on one to many it does not show up on either kit! So you can not look at any of the other types of comparisons. Thanks for a potential answer.

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      Right down at the bottom of each page is a copyright statement. The word Gedmatch in that statement is a link to the email address. Click on it and it should open your email program with the address already filled in.

  30. Herbert H. Greene says:

    When I attempt step one to download, http://1v2.gedmatch.com/login1.php my antivirus rejects site. Other than shutting the antivirus is there another way to get started? I have raw data ready to go somewhere but cannot seem to set up an account………thanks

    • Judy G. Russell says:

      I’m assuming your antivirus program is Avast? It’s been reporting Gedmatch as a problem for a few days, and no other virus program has any issues (including the rather expensive one I use). So I’m assuming the issue is with Avast, not with Gedmatch.

  31. Pingback: Getting Started With GEDMatch; 5 Things You Need To Know - Crestleaf

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>