Did you know that you can take your genetic data one step further with the FREE raw DNA analyses by DNA.Land? To learn what it can offer and why it is free, keep reading!
What is DNA.Land?
Basically a digital bank of people’s genetic data. The data comes from the 8 million and growing people who have tested their genome with a genetic testing company. If that is you, you probably got your test from one of the big four
After the test, you end up with a report and raw data. But chances are, only the report is useful to you because most people simply don’t know what to do with the raw data. It just looks like a bunch of alien gibberish! This is when DNA.Land comes in.
So much power lies in the raw genetic data, especially for researchers interested in the role of genetics in complex diseases and traits. Thus, a group of researchers founded DNA.Land to collect data from users. In return, DNA.Land offers users more interesting information about themselves, win-win!
The good news is that DNA.Land has a step-by-step instruction so that you don’t need to worry about getting lost in the process. New users start by registering an account on DNA.Land and signing a consent form. At this stage, users can also choose their levels of involvement in the research by deciding how much data to share.
DNA.Land accepts genetic data files from all four major genetic testing companies. This means that you can reach more relatives who got tested using a different company than you!
Imputation – Upgrading the resolution of your raw DNA data
Within 24 hours of uploading the data, you should see three reports: Ancestry report, Find relatives and Trait prediction report. During that 24 hours, DNA.Land would have run “imputation” on your raw data. This essentially gives you the closest thing we currently have to whole genome sequencing, at no extra cost!
Imputed genome may pick up a lot more genetic variations than the original file. Think of it as a higher resolution picture taken by a camera compared to a phone – an upgrade!
DNA.Land Ancestry report
You probably already have a rough idea of where your genes are coming from through your testing company’s report. But the problem is that no one is 100% sure about the ancestry and different companies just use different algorithms to make their best guess. That means different results could all be close to the truth – think about seeing an apple from different angles.
it’s always a good idea to compare results from different places! DNA.Land uses slightly different algorithms too, which may come up with different ancestors. If you want to delve deeper into how ancestry report is generated and interpreted, here are two blogs by its creators.
Some users report quite different ancestry groups compared to their testing company’s ancestry report. This could be because of the way ethnic groups are defined. Below is an example and more detailed explanations that come along.
If this looks complicated, you can also get a quick idea of where your ancestors were on a world map.
It’s probably less awkward to reach out to a cousin than to someone who shares 1% of your DNA. DNA.Land shows you not only matched relatives, but also how close your relationship is.
“Hey cousin John, we share some DNA on chromosome , 8, 18 and 19!” This may sound funny but that’s exactly what DNA.Land is trying to tell you with the visual display of matching segments, a unique feature not provided by other companies.
Do you use Facebook or Instagram? By linking DNA.Land account to your Geni profile, you can see the family trees of other DNA.Land users who are also linked to Geni in the same way as you use social media! You can visit their profiles or reach out to them if your match provided contact information.
Can machine crack the genetic code and predict our height and eye color? The way to find out is in the Trait-prediction report, which includes predicted trait scores and how they compare to the DNA.Land community. Currently, the trait-prediction report only describes physical and wellness, but not disease-related features.
In this example, you can see exactly which variants in your genome contributed to that prediction and where they are on your chromosomes.
If you still want to dig deeper on your own, DNA.Land allow you to do that with the most recent tool DNA.Land Compass, where you could navigate your genome through scientific studies by yourself.
DNA Land Users’ Feedback
So what’s our conclusion? Since DNA.Land started as a research project instead of a customer-oriented initiative, the team had to learn a lot from users’ feedback. Let’s take a look at what others say.
- The biggest thing that no one complains about is that DNA.Land is FREE
- Constantly improving features, for example, the new ancestry report was made more detailed and visually appealing
- Imputation – an upgrade of your DNA resolution
- Unique features: visualisation of shared genetic segments
- Can find more relatives from other testing companies too
- You help scientists make important discoveries that may help people
- Some users find the result explanations too scientific and difficult to understand.
- Some users felt the ancestry results were not as accurate when compared to their testing company based on their own expectation.
- Many initial users found few or no matched relatives as other testing companies.
- The genetic trait predications are not as accurate or useful as some users would like
We will leave it up to you to decide from here. Just bear in mind that some of the negative user experiences were based on the early DNA.Land and are likely improved by now. It’s a good idea to do your own updated research and interact with developers and users through DNA.Land’s Facebook page.
DNA.Land Data privacy
DNA.Land does not share your data with third parties without your permission. The data is collected for research use and you can choose how much data you would like to share. See the DNA.Land Terms of Consent for more information.
About DNA.Land 2.0
DNA.Land started as a research project that has led to the independent DNA.Land 2.0 that you see now. Two papers have been published thanks to users’ data.
- DNA.Land is a framework to collect genomes and phenomes in the era of abundant genetic information
- Rapid re-identification of human samples using portable DNA sequencing
The academic part of DNA.Land has finished, but DNA.Land 2.0 relaunched as an independent service provider in October, 2019. It is still operated by the same researchers independent of commercial genetic testing companies. More explanations of the transition is here.
In summary, DNA.Land has been and is still refining its features. It already offers some unique features that give you more information about your genetics for FREE, including
- Genome visualization
- DNA.Land Compass
In the future, it will also keep bringing users with newer and better results so stay tuned! Of course, DNA.Land is not a perfect tool like all other genetic services. At the end of the day, you should take a grain of salt when interpreting all genetic reports. DNA.Land is no exception.