A Triangulation Guidelines Born From the Query; “Why NOT Use Shut Kinfolk for Triangulation?”

Certainly one of my readers requested why we don’t use shut kin for triangulation.

This can be a nice query as a result of not utilizing shut kin for triangulation appears counter-intuitive.

I used to ask my youngsters and ultimately my college students and prospects in the event that they needed the short brief reply or the longer academic reply.

The brief reply is “as a result of shut kin are too near reliably type the third leg of the triangle.” Because you share a lot DNA with shut kin, somebody matching you who’s an identical by likelihood may match them for precisely the identical purpose.

When you belief me and also you’re good with that reply, great. However I hope you’ll maintain studying as a result of there’s a lot to think about, to not point out a number of gotchas. I’ll share my methodology, strategies, and workarounds.

We’ll additionally talk about completely great methods to make the most of shut kin within the genetic genealogical course of – simply not for triangulation.

On the finish of this text, I’ve supplied a working triangulation guidelines so that you can use when evaluating your matches.

Let’s go!

The Step-by-Step Instructional Reply😊

Some folks see “proof” they imagine conflicts with the idea that you shouldn’t use shut kin for triangulation. I perceive that, as a result of I’ve gone down that rathole too, so I’m offering the “academic reply” that explains precisely WHY you shouldn’t use shut kin for triangulation – and what it’s best to do.

After all, we have to reply the query, “Who truly are shut kin?”

I’ll clarify the perfect methods to finest make the most of shut kin in genetic family tree, and why some matches are misleading.

You’ll want to grasp the underpinnings of DNA inheritance and likewise of how the totally different distributors deal with DNA matching behind the scenes.

The aim of autosomal DNA triangulation is to substantiate {that a} phase is handed down from a selected ancestor to you and a selected set of your matches.

Triangulation, after all, implies 3, so at the least three folks should all match one another on a fairly sized portion of the identical DNA phase for triangulation to happen.

Matching only one particular person solely offers you with one path to that frequent ancestor. It’s attainable that you just match that particular person on account of a distinct ancestor that you just aren’t conscious of, or on account of likelihood recombination of DNA.

It’s attainable that your or your match inherited a part of that DNA out of your maternal facet and half out of your paternal facet, that means that you’re matching that different particular person’s DNA by likelihood.

I wrote about an identical by descent (IBD), which is an correct genealogically significant match, and an identical by likelihood (IBC) which is a false match, within the article Concepts – Identical by…Descent, State, Population and Chance.

I really need you to grasp why shut kin actually shouldn’t be used for triangulation, and HOW shut relative matches needs to be used, so we’re going to debate all the elements that have an effect on and affect this matter – each the apparent and little-understood.

  • Reputable Matches
  • Inheritance and Triangulation
  • Parental Cross-Matching
  • Parental Phasing
  • Computerized Phasing at FamilyTreeDNA
  • Parental Phasing Caveats
  • Pedigree Collapse
  • Endogamy
  • How Many Equivalent-by-Probability Matches Will I Have?
  • DNA Doesn’t Skip Generations (Significantly, It Doesn’t)
  • Your Mother and father Have DNA That You Don’t (And Easy methods to Use It)
  • No DNA Match Doesn’t Imply You’re Not Associated
  • Imputation
  • Ancestry Points and Workarounds
  • Testing Shut Kinfolk is VERY Helpful – Simply Not for Triangulation
  • Triangulated Matches
  • Constructing Triangulation Proof – Components and a Recipe
  • Aunts/Uncles
  • Siblings
  • How False Positives Work and Easy methods to Keep away from Them
  • Distant Cousins Are Greatest for Triangulation & Right here’s Why
  • The place Are We? A Triangulation Guidelines for You!
  • The Backside Line

Don’t fear, these sections are logical and concise. I thought-about making this into a number of articles, however I really need it in a single place for you. I’ve created a number of graphics with examples to assist out.

Let’s begin by dispelling a fantasy.

DNA Doesn’t Skip Generations!

Not too long ago, somebody emailed to let me know that they’d “stopped listening to me” in a presentation after I stated that if a match didn’t additionally match one in all your dad and mom, it was a false match. That particular person knowledgeable me that they’d labored on their tree for 3 years at Ancestry they usually have “proof” of DNA skipping generations.

Nope, sorry. That basically doesn’t occur, however there are circumstances when an individual who doesn’t perceive both how DNA works, or how the seller they’re utilizing presents DNA outcomes might misunderstand or misread the outcomes.

You’ll be able to watch my presentation, RootsTech session, DNA Triangulation: What, Why and How, for free here. I’m thrilled that this session is now being utilized in programs at two totally different universities.

DNA actually doesn’t skip generations. You CANNOT inherit DNA that your dad and mom didn’t have.

Full cease.

Your kids can’t inherit DNA from you that you just don’t carry. When you don’t have that DNA, your kids and their descendants can’t have it both, at the least not from you. They after all do inherit DNA from their different mother or father.

I believe traditionally, the “skipping generations” commentary was linked to traits. For instance, Susie has dimples (or no matter) and so did her maternal grandmother, however her mom didn’t, so Susie’s dimples have been stated to have “skipped a technology.” After all, we don’t know something about Susie’s different grandparents, if Susie’s dad and mom share ancestors, recessive/dominant genes and even what number of genetic places are concerned with the inheritance of “dimples,” however I digress.

DNA skipping generations is a fallacy.

You can not legitimately match somebody that your mother or father doesn’t, at the least not by way of that mother or father’s facet of the tree.

However right here’s the caveat. You’ll be able to’t match somebody one in all your dad and mom doesn’t with the uncommon exception of:

  • Comparatively current pedigree collapse that happens when you’ve the identical ancestors on each side of your tree, that means your dad and mom are associated, AND
  • The method of recombination simply occurred to separate and recombine a phase of DNA in segments too small on your match to match your dad and mom individually, however massive sufficient when recombined to match you.

We’ll discuss that extra in a minute.

Nevertheless, the particular person working with Ancestry bushes can’t make this willpower as a result of Ancestry doesn’t present phase data. Ancestry additionally handles DNA otherwise than different distributors, which we’ll additionally talk about shortly.

We’ll overview all of this, however let’s begin in the beginning and clarify the best way to decide if our matches are official, or not.

Reputable Matches

Reputable matches happen when the DNA of your ancestor is handed from that ancestor to their descendants, and ultimately to you and a match in an unbroken pathway.

Unbroken implies that each ancestor between you and that ancestor carried after which handed on the phase of the ancestor’s DNA that you just carry right this moment. The identical is true on your match who carries the identical phase of DNA out of your frequent ancestor.

False constructive matches happen when the DNA of a female and male mix randomly to appear to be a official match to another person.

Fortunately, there are methods to inform the distinction.

Inheritance and Triangulation

Keep in mind, you inherit two copies of every of your chromosomes 1-22, one copy out of your mom and one out of your father. You inherit half of the DNA that every mother or father carries, but it surely’s mixed together in you so the labs can’t readily inform which nucleotide, A, C, T, or G you acquired from which mother or father. I’m exhibiting your maternal and paternal DNA within the graphic under, stacked neatly collectively in a column – however in actuality, it could possibly be AC in a single place and CA within the subsequent.

For matching all that issues is the nucleotide that matches your match is current in a kind of two places. On this case, A on your mom’s facet and C on your father’s facet. When you’re , you’ll be able to learn extra about that within the article, Hit a Genealogy Home Run Using Your Double-Sided Two-Faced Chromosomes While Avoiding Imposters.

You’ll be able to see on this instance that you just inherited all As out of your Mother and all Cs out of your Dad.

  • A official maternal match would match you on all As on this explicit instance phase.
  • A official paternal match would match you on all Cs on this explicit phase.
  • A false constructive match will match you on some random mixture of As and Cs that make it appear to be they match you legitimately, however they don’t.
  • A false constructive match will NOT match both your mom or your father.

To be very clear, technically a false constructive match DOES match your DNA – however they don’t match your DNA as a result of you share a standard ancestor along with your match. They match you as a result of random recombination on their facet causes you to match one another by likelihood.

In different phrases, if a part of your DNA got here out of your Mother’s facet and half out of your Dad’s but it surely randomly fell within the appropriate positional order, you’d nonetheless match somebody whose DNA was from solely their mom or father’s facet. That’s precisely the state of affairs proven above and under.

our instance once more, it’s evident that your an identical by likelihood (IBC) match’s A places (1, 3, 5, 7 & 9) will match your Mother. C places (2, 4, 6 8, & 10) will match your Dad, however the nonmatching segments interleaved in-between that match alternating dad and mom will forestall your match from matching both of your dad and mom. In different phrases, out of 10 contiguous places in our instance, your IBC match has 5 As alternated with 5 Cs, in order that they received’t match both of your dad and mom who’ve 10 As or 10 Cs in a row.

This recombination impact can work in both path. Both or each matching folks’s DNA could possibly be randomly blended inflicting them to match one another, however not their dad and mom.

No matter whose DNA is zigzagging forwards and backwards between maternal and paternal, the match is just not genealogical and doesn’t verify a standard ancestor.

That is precisely why triangulation works and is essential.

When you legitimately match a 3rd particular person, proven under, in your maternal facet, they are going to match you, your first official maternal match, and your Mother as a result of they carry all As. However they WON’T match the one that is matching you as a result of they’re an identical by likelihood, proven in gray under.

The one particular person your an identical by likelihood match matches on this group is you as a result of they match you due to the possibility recombination of parental DNA.

That third particular person WILL additionally match all different official maternal matches on this phase.

Within the graphic above, we see that whereas the gray an identical by likelihood particular person matches you due to the random mixture of As out of your mom and Cs out of your father, your official maternal matches received’t match your an identical by likelihood match.

This is step one in figuring out false matches.

Parental Cross-Matching

Eradicating the an identical by likelihood match, and including within the dad and mom of your official maternal match, we see that your maternal match, above, matches you since you each have all As inherited from one mother or father, not from a mixture of each dad and mom.

We all know that as a result of we will see the DNA of each dad and mom of each matches on this instance.

The perfect state of affairs happens when two folks match they usually have each had their dad and mom examined. We have to see if every particular person matches the opposite particular person’s dad and mom.

We will see that you just do NOT match your match’s father and your match does NOT match your father.

You do match your match’s mom and your match does match your mom. I seek advice from this as Parental Cross-matching.

Your official maternal matches may even match one another and your mom if she is on the market for testing.

All of the folks in yellow match one another, whereas the 2 dad and mom in grey don’t match any of your matches. A whole group of official maternal matches on this phase, irrespective of what number of, will all match one another.

If one other particular person matches you and the opposite yellow folks, you’ll nonetheless must see when you match their dad and mom, as a result of if not, meaning they’re matching you on all As as a result of their two dad and mom DNA mixed simply occurred, by likelihood, to contribute an A in all of these positions.

On this final instance, your new match, in inexperienced, matches you, your official match and each of your moms, BUT, not one of the 4 yellow folks match both of the brand new match’s dad and mom. You’ll be able to see that the brand new inexperienced match inherited their As from the DNA of their mom and father each, randomly zigzagging forwards and backwards.

The 4 yellow matches part parentally as we simply proved with cross matching to oldsters. The brand new match at first look seems to be a official match as a result of they match all the yellow folks – however they aren’t as a result of the yellow folks don’t match the inexperienced particular person’s dad and mom.

To inform the distinction between official matches and an identical by likelihood matches, you want two issues, so as.

  • Parental matching often called parental phasing together with parental cross-matching, if attainable, AND
  • Reputable an identical by descent (IBD) triangulated matches

If in case you have the power to carry out parental matching, known as phasing, that’s the best first step in eliminating an identical by likelihood matches. Nevertheless, few match pairs may have dad and mom for everybody. You need to use triangulation with out parental phasing if dad and mom aren’t obtainable.

Let’s discuss each, together with when and the way shut kin can and can’t be used.

Parental Phasing

The strategy of confirming your match to be official by your match additionally matching one in all your dad and mom is named parental phasing.

If now we have the dad and mom of each folks in a match pair obtainable for matching, we will simply inform if the match does NOT match both mother or father. That’s Parental Cross Matching. If both match does NOT match one of many different particular person’s dad and mom, the match is an identical by likelihood, often known as a false constructive.

See how simple that was!

When you, for instance, is the one particular person in your match pair to have dad and mom obtainable, then you’ll be able to parentally part the match in your facet in case your match matches your dad and mom. Nevertheless, as a result of your match’s dad and mom are unavailable, your match to them cannon tbe verified as official on their facet. So you aren’t phased to their dad and mom.

When you solely have one in all your dad and mom obtainable for matching, and your match doesn’t match that mother or father, you CANNOT presume that as a result of your match does NOT match that mother or father, the match is a official match for the opposite, lacking, mother or father.

There are 4 attainable match situations:

  • Maternal match
  • Paternal match
  • Matches neither mother or father which suggests the match is an identical by likelihood that means a false constructive
  • Matches each dad and mom within the case of pedigree collapse or endogamy

If two matching folks do match one mother or father of each matches (parental cross-matching), then the match is official. In different phrases, if we match, I must match one in all your dad and mom and it’s essential to match one in all mine.

It’s essential to check your matches’ DNA to generationally older direct members of the family reminiscent of dad and mom or grandparents, if that’s attainable. In case your grandparents can be found, it’s attainable to part your matches again one other technology.

Computerized Phasing at FamilyTreeDNA

FamilyTreeDNA routinely phases your matches to your dad and mom when you check that mother or father, create or add a GEDCOM file, and hyperlink your check and theirs to your tree within the correct locations.

FamilyTreeDNA‘s Household Matching assigns or “buckets” your matches maternally and paternally. Matches are assigned as maternal or paternal matches if one or each dad and mom have examined.

Moreover, FamilyTreeDNA makes use of triangulated matches from different linked kin inside your tree even when your dad and mom haven’t examined. When you don’t have your dad and mom, the extra folks you establish and hyperlink to your tree within the correct place, the extra folks will probably be assigned to maternal and paternal buckets. FamilyTreeDNA is the one vendor that does this. I wrote about this course of within the article, Triangulation in Action at Family Tree DNA.

Parental Phasing Caveats

There are very uncommon cases the place parental phasing could also be technically correct, however not genealogically related. By this, I imply {that a} mother or father may very well match one in all your matches on account of endogamy or a inhabitants degree match, even when it’s thought-about a false constructive as a result of it’s not related in a genealogical timeframe.

Conversely, a mother or father might not match when the phase is definitely official, but it surely’s fairly uncommon and solely when pedigree collapse has occurred in a really particular set of circumstances the place each dad and mom share a standard ancestor.

Let’s check out that.

Pedigree Collapse

It’s not terribly unusual within the not-too-distant previous to search out first cousins marrying one another, particularly in quite closely-knit spiritual communities. I encounter this in Brethren, Mennonite and Amish households typically the place the neighborhood was small and out-marrying was frowned upon and extremely discouraged. These households and generally whole church congregations migrated cross-country collectively for generations.

When pedigree collapse is current, that means the mom and father share a standard ancestor not far prior to now, it’s attainable to inherit half of 1 phase from Mother and the opposite half from Dad the place these halves originated with the identical ancestral couple.

For instance, let’s say the matching phase between you and your match is 12 cM in size, proven under. You inherited the blue phase out of your Dad and the neighboring peach phase from Mother – proven slightly below the phase numbers. You acquired 6 cM from each dad and mom.

One other particular person’s DNA does match you, proven within the backside row, however they aren’t proven on the DNA match checklist of both of your dad and mom. That’s as a result of the DNA segments of the dad and mom simply occurred to recombine in 6 cM items, respectively, which is under the 7 cM matching threshold of the seller on this instance.

If the particular person matched you at 12 cM the place you inherited 8 cM from one mother or father and 4 from the opposite, that particular person would present on one mother or father’s match checklist, however not the opposite. They’d not be on the mother or father’s match checklist who contributed solely 4 cM just because the DNA divided and recombined in that method. They’d match you on an extended phase than they match your mother or father at 8 cM which you may discover as “odd.”

Let’s have a look at one other instance.

click on to enlarge picture

If the matching phase is 20 cM, the particular person will match you and each of your dad and mom on totally different items of the identical phase, provided that each segments are above 7 cM. On this case, your match who matches you at 20 cM will match every of your dad and mom at 10 cM.

You’d have the ability to inform that the tip location of Dad’s phase is similar as the beginning location of Mother’s phase.

That is NOT frequent and is NOT the “go to” reply once you assume somebody “ought to” match your mother or father and doesn’t. It could be value contemplating in identified pedigree collapse conditions.

You’ll be able to see why somebody observing this phenomenon might “presume” that DNA skipped a technology as a result of the particular person matches you on segments the place they don’t match your mother or father. However DNA didn’t skip something in any respect. This circumstance was attributable to a mixture of pedigree collapse, random division of DNA, then random recombination in the identical location the place that very same DNA phase was divided earlier. Clearly, this sequence of occasions is just not one thing that occurs typically.

When you’ve uploaded your DNA to GEDmatch, you’ll be able to choose the “Are your dad and mom associated?” perform which scans your DNA file for runs of homozygosity (ROH) the place your DNA is strictly the identical in each parental places for a big distance. This means that since you inherited the very same sequence from each dad and mom, that your dad and mom share an ancestor.

In case your dad and mom didn’t inherit the identical phase of DNA from each dad and mom, or the phase is simply too brief, then they received’t present as “being associated,” even when they do share a standard ancestor.

Now, let’s have a look at the other state of affairs. Parental phasing and ROH generally do happen when frequent ancestors are far again in time and the match is just not genealogically related.


I typically see non-genealogical matching happen when coping with endogamy. Endogamy happens when a whole inhabitants has been remoted genetically for a very long time. On this circumstance, a considerable a part of the inhabitants shares frequent DNA segments as a result of there have been few authentic inhabitants founders. A lot of the present-day inhabitants carries that very same DNA. Many individuals inside that inhabitants would match on that phase. Take into consideration the Jewish neighborhood and indigenous Individuals.

Think about our authentic instance, however this time the place a lot of the endogamous inhabitants carries all As in these positions as a result of one of many authentic founders carried that nucleotide sequence. Many individuals would match a number of different folks no matter whether or not they’re a detailed relative or share a distant ancestor.

Folks with endogamous strains do share kin, however that matching DNA phase originated in ancestors a lot additional again in time. When coping with endogamy, I exploit parental phasing as a primary step, if attainable, then concentrate on bigger matches, typically 20 cM or larger. Smaller matches both aren’t related otherwise you typically can’t inform if/how they’re.

At FamilyTreeDNA, folks with endogamy will discover many individuals bucketed on the “Each” tab that means they triangulate with folks linked on each side of the tester’s tree.

An instance of a Jewish particular person’s bucketed matches primarily based on triangulation with kin linked of their tree is proven above.

Your siblings, their kids, and your kids will probably be associated on each your mom’s and father’s sides, however different folks usually received’t be until you’ve skilled both pedigree collapse the place you might be associated each maternally and paternally by way of the identical ancestors otherwise you descend from an endogamous inhabitants.

How Many Equivalent-by-Probability Matches Will I Have?

If in case you have each dad and mom obtainable to check, and also you’re not coping with both pedigree collapse or endogamy, you’ll probably discover that about 15-20% of your matches don’t match your dad and mom on the identical phase and are an identical by likelihood.

With endogamy, you’ll have MANY extra matches in your endogamous strains and also you’ll have some irrelevant matches, sometimes called “false constructive” matches though they technically aren’t, even utilizing parental phasing.

Your Mother and father Have DNA That You Don’t

Typically individuals are confused when reviewing their matches and their mother or father’s match to the identical particular person, particularly once they match somebody and their mother or father matches them on a distinct or an extra phase.

When you match somebody on a selected phase and your dad and mom don’t, that’s a false constructive FOR THAT SEGMENT. Each phase has its personal particular person historical past and needs to be evaluated individually. You’ll be able to match somebody on two segments, one from every mother or father. Or three segments, one from every mother or father and one which’s an identical by likelihood. Don’t assume.

Typically, your match will match each you and your mother or father on the identical phase – which is a official parentally phased match.

However what in case your match matches your mother or father on a distinct phase the place they don’t match you? That’s a false constructive match for you.

Remember that it’s attainable for one in all your matches to match your mother or father on a separate or an further phase that IS official. You merely didn’t inherit that individual phase out of your mother or father.

That’s NOT the identical state of affairs as somebody matching you that does NOT match one in all your dad and mom on the identical phase – which is the same by likelihood or false match.

Your mother or father having a match that doesn’t match you is the reverse state of affairs.

I’ve a number of conditions the place I match somebody on one phase, they usually match my mother or father on the identical phase. Moreover, that particular person matches my mother or father on one other phase that I did NOT inherit from that mother or father. That’s completely regular.

Keep in mind, you solely inherit half of your mother or father’s DNA, so that you actually did NOT inherit the opposite half of their DNA. Your mom, for instance, ought to have twice as many matches as you on her facet as a result of roughly half of her matches received’t match you.

That’s precisely why testing your dad and mom and shut members of the family is so essential. Their matches are as legitimate and related to your family tree as your personal. The identical is true for different kin, reminiscent of aunts and uncles with whom you share ALL of the identical ancestors.

It’s essential work along with your member of the family’s matches that you just don’t share.

No DNA Match Doesn’t Imply You’re Not Associated

Some folks assume that not matching somebody on a DNA check is equal to saying they aren’t associated. Not sharing DNA doesn’t imply you’re not associated.

Persons are typically disenchanted once they don’t match somebody they assume they need to and interpret that to imply that the testing firm is telling them they “aren’t associated.” They’re upset and take situation with this characterization. However that’s not what it means.

Let’s analyze this a bit additional.

First, not sharing DNA with a second cousin as soon as eliminated (2C1R) or extra distant does NOT imply you’re NOT associated to that particular person. It merely means you don’t share any measurable DNA ABOVE THE VENDOR THRESHOLD.

All identified second cousins match, however about 10% of third cousins don’t match, and so forth on up the line with each generation further back in time having fewer cousins that match one another.

If in case you have examined shut kin, examine to see if that cousin matches your kin.

Second, it’s attainable to match by way of the “different” or sudden mother or father. I definitely didn’t assume this could be the case in my household, as a result of my father is from Appalachia and my mom’s household is primarily from the Netherlands, Germany, Canada, and New England. However I used to be improper.

All it took was one German son that settled in Appalachia, and voila, a match by way of my mom that I absolutely thought ought to have been by way of my father’s facet. I’ve my mom’s DNA and certain sufficient, my match that I believed needs to be on my father’s facet matches Mother on the identical phase the place they match me, together with a number of triangulated matches. Additional analysis confirmed why.

I’ve additionally encountered conditions the place I legitimately match somebody on each my mom’s and father’s facet, on totally different segments.

Third, imputation might be essential for individuals who don’t match and assume they need to. Imputation may trigger matching phase size to be overreported.

Okay, so what’s imputation and why do I care?


Each DNA vendor right this moment has to make use of some kind of imputation.

Let me clarify, basically, what imputation is and why distributors use it.

Through the years, DNA processing distributors who promote DNA chips to testing corporations have modified their DNA chips fairly considerably. Whereas genealogical autosomal exams check about 700,000 DNA places, plus or minus, these places have modified over time. Right this moment, a few of these chips solely have 100,000 or so chip places in frequent with chips both presently or beforehand utilized by different distributors.

The distributors who do NOT settle for uploads, reminiscent of 23andMe or Ancestry, must develop strategies to make their latest prospects on their DNA processing vendor’s newest chip suitable with their first buyer who was examined on their oldest chip – and all iterations in-between.

Distributors who do settle for transfers/uploads from different distributors must equalize any variety of distributors’ chips when their prospects add these recordsdata.

Imputation is the scientific method to obtain this cross-platform performance and has been broadly used within the business since 2017.

Imputation, in essence, fills within the blanks between examined places with the “probably” DNA discovered within the human inhabitants primarily based on what’s surrounding the clean location.

Consider the phrase C_T. There are a restricted variety of letters and phrases which might be candidates for C_T. When you use the phrase in a sentence, your odds of accuracy improve dramatically. Consider a genetic string of nucleotides as a sentence.

Imputation might be incorrect and may trigger each false constructive and false adverse matches.

For probably the most half, imputation doesn’t have an effect on shut household matches as a lot as extra distant matches. In different phrases, imputation is NOT going to trigger shut members of the family to not match.

Imputation might trigger extra distant members of the family to not match, or to have a false constructive match when imputation is inaccurate.

Imputation is definitely MUCH much less problematic than I initially anticipated.

The probably impact of imputation is to trigger a match to be simply above or under the seller threshold.

How can we decrease the results of imputation?

  • Usually, the perfect end result will probably be achieved if each folks check on the similar vendor the place their DNA is processed on the identical chip and fewer imputation is required.
  • Add the outcomes of each folks to each MyHeritage and FamilyTreeDNA. In case your match outcomes are typically constant at these distributors, imputation is just not an element.
  • GEDmatch doesn’t use imputation however makes an attempt to beat recordsdata with low overlapping areas by permitting bigger mismatch areas. I discover their matches to be much less correct than on the varied distributors.

Moreover, Ancestry has a number of complicating elements.

Ancestry Points

AncestryDNA is totally different in 3 ways.

  • Ancestry doesn’t present phase data so it’s inconceivable to triangulate or establish the phase or chromosome the place folks match. There isn’t a chromosome browser or triangulation instrument.
  • Ancestry down-weights and removes some segments in areas the place they really feel that individuals are “too matchy.” You’ll be able to learn Ancestry’s white papers here and here.

These “private pileup areas,” as they’re identified, might be essential genealogically. In my case, these are my mom’s Acadian ancestors. Sure, that is an endogamous inhabitants and likewise suffers from pedigree collapse, however since this is just one of my mom’s great-grandparents, this match data is beneficial and shouldn’t be eliminated.

  • Ancestry doesn’t present matches in frequent if the shared segments are lower than 20cM. Subsequently, chances are you’ll not see somebody on a shared match checklist with a relative once they truly are a shared match.

If two folks each match a 3rd particular person on lower than a 20 cM phase at Ancestry, the third particular person received’t seem on the opposite particular person’s shared match checklist. So, if I match John Doe on 19 cM of DNA, and I regarded on the shared matches with my Dad, John Doe does NOT seem on the shared match checklist of me and my Dad – though he’s a match to each of us at 19 cM.

The one method to decide if John Doe is a shared match is to examine my Dad’s and my match checklist individually, which suggests Dad and I might want to individually seek for John Doe.

Caveat right here – Ancestry’s search generally doesn’t work accurately.

Would possibly somebody who doesn’t perceive that the shared match checklist doesn’t present everybody who shares DNA with each folks presume that the ancestral DNA of that ancestor “skipped a technology” as a result of John Doe matches me with a identified ancestor, and never Dad on our shared match checklist? I imply, wouldn’t you assume {that a} shared match could be proven on a tab labeled “Shared Matches,” particularly since there isn’t any disclaimer?

Sure, folks might be forgiven for believing that someway DNA “skipped” a technology on this circumstance, particularly if they’re comparatively inexperienced they usually don’t perceive Ancestry’s anomalies or know that they should or the best way to seek for matches individually.

Even when John Doe does match me and Dad each, we nonetheless want to substantiate that it’s on the identical phase AND it’s a official match, not IBC. You’ll be able to’t carry out both of those capabilities at Ancestry, however you’ll be able to elsewhere.

Ancestry WorkArounds

To acquire this performance, folks can add their DNA recordsdata totally free to each FamilyTreeDNA and MyHeritage, corporations that do present full shared DNA reporting (in frequent with) lists of ALL matches and do present phase data with chromosome browsers. Moreover, each present triangulation in several methods.

Matching is free, however an affordable unlock is required at each distributors to entry superior instruments reminiscent of Household Matching (bucketing) and triangulation at Family Tree DNA and phasing/triangulation at MyHeritage.

I wrote about Triangulation in Action at FamilyTreeDNA, here.

MyHeritage truly brackets triangulated segments for patrons on their chromosome browser, together with dad and mom, so that you get triangulation and parental phasing on the similar time when you and your mother or father have each tested or uploaded your DNA file to MyHeritage. You’ll be able to upload, for free, here.

On this instance, my mom is matching to me in purple on all the size of chromosome 18, after all, and three different maternal cousins triangulate with me and mom contained in the bracketed portion of chromosome 18. Please be aware that if any one of many folks included within the chromosome browser comparability don’t triangulate, no bracket is drawn round any others who do triangulate. It’s all or nothing. I take away folks one after the other to see if folks triangulate – or construct one after the other with my mom included.

I wrote about Triangulation in Action at MyHeritage, here.

Folks may add to GEDmatch, a third-party website. Whereas GEDmatch is much less dependable for matching, you’ll be able to regulate your search thresholds which you can not do at different distributors. I don’t suggest routinely working under 7 cM. I often use GEDmatch to see if a pedigree collapse phase has recombined under one other vendor’s phase matching threshold.

Do NOT examine the field to forestall laborious breaks when deciding on the One-to-One comparability. Checking that field permits GEDmatch to mix smaller matching segments into mega-segments for matching.

I wrote about Triangulation in Action at GEDmatch, here.

Transferring/Importing Your DNA 

If you wish to switch your DNA to one in all these distributors, you could obtain the DNA file from one vendor and add it to a different. That course of does NOT take away your DNA file from the seller the place you examined, until you choose that possibility completely individually.

I wrote full step-by-step transfer/upload instructions for each vendor, here.

Testing Shut Kinfolk Is VERY Helpful – Simply Not for Triangulation

After all, your finest wager when you don’t have your dad and mom obtainable to check is to check as a lot of your grandparents, great-aunts/uncles, aunts, and uncles as attainable. Check your siblings as properly, as a result of they are going to have inherited a few of the similar and a few totally different segments of DNA out of your dad and mom – which suggests they carry totally different items of your ancestors’ DNA.

Simply because shut kin don’t make good triangulation candidates doesn’t imply they aren’t beneficial. Shut kin are golden as a result of once they DO share a match with you, you understand the place to start out on the lookout for a standard ancestor, even when your relative matches that particular person on a distinct phase than you do.

Shut kin are additionally essential as a result of they are going to share items of your frequent ancestor’s DNA that you just don’t. Their matches can unlock the solutions to your family tree questions.

Okay, again to triangulation.

Triangulated Matches

A triangulated match is, after all, when three folks all descended from a standard ancestor and match one another on the identical phase of DNA.

Which means all three folks’s DNA matches one another on that very same phase, confirming that the match is just not by likelihood, and that phase did descend from a standard ancestor or ancestral couple.

However, is that this at all times true? You’re going to hate this reply…

“It relies upon.”

You knew that was coming, didn’t you! 😊

It relies on the circumstances and relationships of the three folks concerned.

  • A type of three folks can match the opposite two by likelihood, not by descent, particularly if two of these individuals are shut kin to one another.
  • Equivalent by likelihood implies that one in all you didn’t inherit that DNA from one single mother or father. That zigzag phenomenon.
  • Moreover, triangulated DNA is just legitimate way back to the closest frequent ancestor of any two of the three folks.

Let’s discover some examples.

Constructing Triangulation Proof – Components and a Recipe

The strongest case of triangulation is when:

  • You and at the least two further cousins match on the identical phase AND
  • Descend by way of totally different kids of the frequent ancestral couple

Let’s have a look at a legitimate triangulated match.

On this first instance, the magenta phase of DNA is at the least partially shared by 4 of the six cousins and triangulates to their frequent great-grandfather. Let’s say that these cousins then match with two different folks descended from totally different kids of their great-great-great-grandparents on this similar phase. Then all the triangulation group may have confirmed that phase’s origin and push the descent of that phase again one other two generations.

These folks all coalesce into one line with their frequent great-grandparents.

I’m solely exhibiting 3 generations on this triangulated match, however the idea is similar irrespective of what number of generations you attain again in time. Though, over time, segments inherited from any particular ancestor grow to be smaller and smaller till they’re not handed to the following technology.

On this pedigree chart, we’re solely monitoring the magenta DNA which is handed technology to technology in descendants.

Finally, after all, these segments grow to be smaller and indistinguishable as they both aren’t handed on in any respect or drop under vendor matching thresholds.

This chart reveals the typical quantity of DNA you’ll carry from every generational ancestor. You inherit half of every mother or father’s DNA, however again additional than that, you don’t obtain precisely half of any ancestor’s DNA in any technology. Bigger segments are typically minimize in two and handed on partially, however smaller segments are sometimes both handed on entire or under no circumstances.

On common, you’ll carry 7 cM of your eight-times-great-grandparents. In actuality, chances are you’ll carry extra or chances are you’ll not carry any – and you might be unlikely to hold the identical phase as any random different descendants however we all know it occurs and also you’ll discover them if sufficient (or the correct) descendants check.

Placing this one other approach, when you divide your entire approximate 7000 cM of DNA into 7 cM segments of equal size – you’ll have 1000 7 cM segments. So will each different descendant of your eight-times-great-grandparent. You’ll be able to see how small the possibilities are of you each inheriting that very same precise 7 cM phase by way of ten inheritance/transmission occasions, every. But it does occur.

I’ve a number of triangulated matches with descendants of Charles Dodson and his spouse, Anne by way of a number of of their 9 (or so) kids, ten generations again in my tree. These triangulated matches vary from 7-38 cM. It’s attainable that these three largest matches at 38 cM could possibly be associated by way of a number of ancestors as a result of all of us have holes in our bushes – together with Anne’s surname.

Click on to enlarge picture

It helps immensely that Charles Dodson had a number of kids who have been fairly prolific as properly.

After all, the additional again in time, the extra “proof” is critical to remove different unknown frequent ancestors. That is precisely why matching by way of totally different kids is essential for triangulation and ancestor affirmation.

The tactic we use to substantiate the frequent ancestor is that all the descendants who match the tester on the identical phase all additionally match one another. This significantly reduces the possibilities that these individuals are matching by likelihood. The extra folks within the triangulation group, the stronger the proof. After all, parental phasing or cross-matching, the place obtainable is an added affirmation bonus.

In our magenta inheritance instance, we noticed that three of the males and one of many females from three totally different descendants of the great-grandparents all carry at the least a portion of that magenta phase of great-grandpa’s DNA.

Now, let’s check out a distinct situation.

Why can’t siblings or shut kin be used as two of the three folks wanted for triangulation?

Aunts and Uncles

We all know that one of the simplest ways to find out if a match is legitimate is by parental phasing – your match additionally matching to one in all your dad and mom.

If each dad and mom aren’t obtainable, on the lookout for shut household matches in frequent along with your match is the following trace that genealogists search.

Let’s say that you just and your match each match your aunt or uncle in frequent or their kids.

You and your aunts or uncles matching DNA solely pushes your frequent ancestor again to your grandparents.

At that time, your match is in essence matching to a phase that belongs to your grandparents. Your matches’ DNA, or your grandparents’ DNA might have randomly recombined and also you and your aunt/cousins could possibly be matching that third particular person by likelihood.

Okay, then, what about siblings?


The latest frequent ancestor (MRCA) of you and somebody who additionally matches your sibling is your dad and mom. Subsequently, you and your sibling truly solely rely as one “particular person” on this situation. In essence, it’s the DNA of your mother or father(s) that’s matching that third particular person, so it’s not true triangulation. It’s the identical state of affairs as above with aunts/uncles, besides the frequent ancestor is nearer than your grandparents.

The DNA of your dad and mom might have recombined in each siblings to appear to be a match to your match’s household. Or vice versa. Keep in mind Parental Cross-Matching.

When you and a sibling inherited EXACTLY the identical phase of your Mother’s and Dad’s DNA, and also you match somebody by likelihood – that particular person will match your sibling by likelihood as properly.

On this instance, you’ll be able to see that each siblings 1 and a couple of inherited the very same segments of DNA on the similar places from each of their dad and mom.

After all, additionally they inherited segments at totally different places that we’re not taking a look at that received’t match precisely between siblings, until they’re an identical twins. However on this case, the inherited segments of each siblings will match somebody whose DNA randomly mixed with inexperienced or magenta dots in these positions to match a cross-section of each dad and mom.

How False Positives Work and Easy methods to Keep away from Them

We noticed in our first instance, displayed once more above, what a legitimate triangulated match seems to be like. Now let’s develop this view and have a look extra particularly at how false constructive matches happen.

On the left-hand (blue) facet of this graphic, we see 4 siblings that descend by way of their father from Nice-grandpa who contributed that enormous magenta phase of DNA. That phase turns into diminished in descendants in subsequent generations.

In downstream generations, we will see gold, white and inexperienced segments being added to the DNA inherited by the 4 kids from their ancestor’s spouses. Dad’s DNA is proven on the left facet of every baby, and Mother’s on the correct.

  • Blue Kids 1 and a couple of inherited the identical segments of DNA from Mother and Dad. Magenta from Dad and inexperienced from Mother.
  • Blue Youngster 3 inherited two magenta segments from Dad in positions 1 and a couple of and one gold phase from Dad in place 3. They inherited all white segments from Mother.
  • Blue Youngster 4 inherited all gold segments from Dad and all white segments from Mother.

The household on the blue left-hand facet is NOT associated to the pink household proven at proper. That’s essential to recollect.

I’ve deliberately constructed this graphic to be able to see a number of an identical by likelihood (IBC) matches.

Youngster 5, the primary pink sibling carries a white phase in place 1 from Dad and gold segments in positions 2 and three from Dad. From Mother, they inherited a inexperienced phase in place 1, magenta in place 2 and inexperienced in place 3.

IBC Match 1 – Trying on the blue siblings, we see that primarily based on the DNA inherited from Pink Youngster 5’s dad and mom, Pink Youngster 5 matches Blue Youngster 4 with white, gold and gold in positions 1-3, though they weren’t inherited from the identical mother or father in Blue Youngster 4. I circled this match in blue.

IBC Match 2 – Pink Youngster 5 additionally matches Blue Kids 1 and a couple of (purple circles) as a result of Pink Youngster 5 has inexperienced, magenta, and inexperienced in positions 1-3 and so do Blue Kids 1 and a couple of. Nevertheless, Blue Kids 1 and a couple of inherited the inexperienced and magenta segments from Mother and Dad respectively, not simply from one mother or father.

Pink Youngster 5 matches Blue Kids 1, 2 and 4, however not as a result of they match by descent, however as a result of their DNA zigzags forwards and backwards between the blue kids’s DNA contributed by each dad and mom.

Subsequently, whereas Pink Youngster 5 matches three of the Blue Kids, they don’t match both mother or father of the Blue Kids.

IBC Match 3 – Pink Youngster 6 matches Blue Youngster 3 with white, magenta and gold in positions 1-3 primarily based on the identical colours of dots in those self same positions present in Blue Youngster 3 – however inherited each paternally and maternally.

You’ll be able to see that if we had the 4 dad and mom obtainable to check, that not one of the Pink Kids would match both the Blue Kids’s mom or father and not one of the Blue Kids would match both of the Pink Kids’s mom or father.

That is why we will’t use both siblings or shut household kin for triangulation.

Distant Cousins Are Greatest for Triangulation & Right here’s Why

When triangulating with 3 folks, the latest frequent ancestor (MRCA) intersection of the closest two folks is the place at which triangulation turns into solely two strains being in contrast and ceases being triangulation. Triangle means 3.

If siblings are 2 of the three matching folks, then their dad and mom are basically being in comparison with the third particular person.

When you, your aunt/uncle, and a 3rd particular person match, your grandparents are the place in your tree the place three strains converge into two.

The identical holds true when you’re matching in opposition to a sibling pair in your match’s facet, or a match and their aunt/uncle, and so forth.

The additional again in your tree you’ll be able to push that MRCA intersection, the extra your triangulated match offers confirming proof of a standard ancestor and that the match is legitimate and never attributable to random recombination.

That’s precisely what the descendants of Charles Dodson have been capable of do by way of triangulation with a number of descendants from a number of of his kids.

It’s additionally value mentioning at this level that the explanation autosomal DNA testing makes use of tons of/hundreds of base pairs in a comparability window and never 3 or 6 dots like in my instance is that the chance of longer segments of DNA merely randomly matching by likelihood is diminished with size and SNP density which is the variety of SNP places examined inside that cM vary.

Therefore a 7 cM/500 SNP minimal is the mixed rule of thumb. At that degree, roughly half of your matches will probably be legitimate and half will probably be an identical by likelihood until you’re coping with endogamy. Then, increase your threshold accordingly.

Okay, So The place are We? A Triangulation Guidelines for You!

I do know this has been a comparatively lengthy academic article, but it surely’s essential to essentially perceive that testing shut kin is VERY essential, but additionally why we will’t successfully use them for triangulation.

Right here’s a handy-dandy abstract matching/triangulation guidelines so that you can use as you’re employed by way of your matches.

  • You inherit half of every of your dad and mom’ DNA. There isn’t a different place so that you can receive or inherit your DNA. There isn’t a DNA fairy sprinkling you with DNA from one other supply:)
  • DNA does NOT skip generations, though in occasional uncommon circumstances, it might seem that this occurred. On this state of affairs, it’s incumbent upon you, the genealogist, to PROVE that an exception has occurred when you actually imagine it has. These circumstances may be pedigree collapse or maybe imputation. You’ll want to check matches at distributors who present a chromosome browser, triangulation, and full shared match checklist data. By no means assume that you’re the exception with out laborious and quick proof. Everyone knows about assume, proper?
  • Your siblings inherit half of your dad and mom’ DNA too, however not the identical precise half of your mother or father’s DNA that you just different siblings did (until they’re an identical twins.) Chances are you’ll inherit the very same DNA from both or each of your dad and mom on sure segments.
  • Your matches might match your dad and mom on totally different or an extra phase that you just didn’t inherit.
  • Each phase has a person historical past. Consider each matching phase individually. One matching phase with somebody could possibly be maternal, one paternal, and one an identical by likelihood.
  • You’ll be able to verify matches as legitimate in case your match matches one in all your dad and mom, and also you match one in all your match’s dad and mom. Parental Phasing is when your match matches your mother or father. Parental Cross-Matching is once you each match one in all one another’s dad and mom. To be full, each individuals who match one another must match one of many dad and mom of the opposite particular person. This rule nonetheless holds even you probably have a identified frequent ancestor. I can’t even start to let you know what number of instances I’ve been fooled.
  • 15-20% (or extra with endogamy) of your matches will probably be an identical by likelihood as a result of both your DNA or your match’s DNA aligns in such a approach that whereas they match you, they don’t match both of your dad and mom.
  • Your siblings, aunts, and uncles will typically inherit the identical DNA as you – which implies that an identical by likelihood matches may even match them. That’s why we don’t use shut members of the family for triangulation. We do make the most of shut members of the family to generate frequent match hints. (Keep in mind the 20 cM shared match caveat at Ancestry)
  • Whereas your siblings, aunts, and uncles are too shut to make use of for triangulation, they’re great to establish ancestral matches. A few of their matches will match you as properly, and a few won’t as a result of your shut members of the family inherited segments of your ancestor’s DNA that you just didn’t. Everybody ought to check their oldest members of the family.
  • Triangulate your shut member of the family’s matches individually from your personal to shed extra mild in your ancestors.
  • Endogamy might intrude with parental phasing, that means chances are you’ll match since you and/or your match might have inherited a few of the similar DNA phase(s) from each side of your tree and/or extra DNA than may in any other case be anticipated.
  • Pedigree collapse must be thought-about when utilizing parental phasing, particularly when the identical ancestor seems on each side of your loved ones tree. Chances are you’ll share extra DNA with a match than anticipated.
  • Conversely, with pedigree collapse, your match might not match your dad and mom, or vice versa, if a phase occurs to have recombined in you in a approach that drops the matching segments of your dad and mom beneath the seller’s match threshold.
  • Whereas you’ll match your entire second cousins, you’ll solely match roughly 90% of your third cousins and proportionally fewer as your relationship reaches additional again in time.
  • Not being a DNA match with somebody does NOT imply you’re NOT associated to them, until after all, you’re a second cousin (2C) or nearer. It merely means you don’t carry any frequent ancestral segments above vendor thresholds.
  • At 2C or nearer, when you’re not a DNA match, different different conditions should be thought-about – together with the switch/add of the improper particular person’s DNA file.
  • Imputation, a scientific course of required of distributors might intrude with matching, particularly in additional distant kin who’ve examined on totally different platforms.
  • Imputation artifacts will probably be much less apparent when individuals are extra carefully associated, that means nearer kin might be anticipated to match on extra and bigger segments and imputation errors make much less distinction.
  • Imputation won’t trigger shut kin, that means 2C or nearer, to not match one another.
  • Along with not supporting phase matching data, Ancestry down-weights some segments, removes some matching DNA, and doesn’t present shared matches under 20cM, inflicting some folks to misread their lack of frequent matches in varied methods.
  • To resolve questions on matching points at Ancestry, testers can switch/add their DNA recordsdata to MyHeritage, FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch and search for constant matches on the identical phase. Begin and finish places might differ to some extent between distributors, however the phase dimension needs to be principally in the identical location and roughly the identical dimension.
  • GEDmatch doesn’t use imputation however permits bigger non-matching segments to mix as a single phase which generally causes extraordinarily “beneficiant” matches. GEDmatch matching is much less dependable than FamilyTreeDNA or MyHeritage, however you’ll be able to regulate the matching thresholds.
  • The very best state of affairs for matching is for each folks to check on the similar vendor who helps and offers phase knowledge and a chromosome browser reminiscent of 23andMe, FamilyTreeDNA, or MyHeritage.
  • Siblings can’t be used for triangulation as a result of the latest frequent ancestor (MRCA) between you and your siblings is your dad and mom. Subsequently, the “three” folks within the triangulation group is diminished to 2 strains instantly.
  • Uncles and aunts shouldn’t be used for triangulation as a result of the latest frequent ancestors between you and your aunts and uncles are your grandparents.
  • Conversely, you shouldn’t take into account triangulating with siblings and shut members of the family of your matches as proof of an ancestral relationship.
  • A triangulation group of three folks is just affirmation way back to when two of these folks’s strains converge and attain a standard ancestor.
  • Equivalent by likelihood (IBC) matching happens when DNA from the maternal and paternal sides are blended positionally within the baby to resemble a maternal/paternal facet match with another person.
  • Equivalent by likelihood DNA admixture (when in comparison with a match) might have occurred in your dad and mom or grandparent’s technology, or earlier, so the additional again in time that folks in a triangulation group attain, the extra dependable the triangulation group is prone to be.
  • The bigger the segments and/or the triangulation group, the stronger the proof for a selected confirmed frequent ancestor.
  • Early households with a really massive variety of descendants might have many matching and triangulated members, even 9 or 10 generations later.
  • Whereas precisely 50% of every ancestor’s DNA is just not handed in every technology, on common, you’ll carry 7 cM of your ancestors 10 generations again in your tree. Nevertheless, chances are you’ll carry extra, or none.
  • The proportion of matching descendants decreases with every technology past great-grandparents.
  • The perfect state of affairs for triangulation is a big variety of folks, larger than three, who match on the identical moderately sized phase (7 cM/500 SNP or bigger) and descend from the identical ancestor (or ancestral couple) by way of totally different kids whose spouses in descendant generations should not additionally associated.
  • Which means that tree completion is a crucial consider match/triangulation reliability.
  • Triangulating by way of totally different kids of the ancestral couple makes it considerably much less probably {that a} totally different unknown frequent ancestor is contributing that phase of DNA – like an unknown spouse in a descendant technology.


The Backside Line

Right here’s the underside line.

  1. Don’t use shut kin to triangulate.
  2. Use dad and mom for Parental Phasing.
  3. Use Parental Cross-Matching when attainable.
  4. Use shut kin to search for shared frequent matches which will result in triangulation potentialities.
  5. Triangulate your shut kin’ DNA along with your personal for bonus genealogical data. They are going to match folks that you just don’t.
  6. For probably the most dependable triangulation outcomes, use probably the most distant kin attainable, descended by way of totally different kids of the frequent ancestral couple.
  7. Maintain this guidelines of finest practices, cautions, and caveats useful and examine the checklist as needed when evaluating the energy of any match or triangulation group. It serves as an excellent reminder for what to examine if one thing appears “off” or uncommon.

Be happy to share and cross this text (and guidelines) on to your family tree buddies and matches as you clarify triangulation and collaborate in your family tree.

Have enjoyable!!!



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Thanks a lot.

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