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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Are Italians underrepresented in DNA testing?

Are Americans of Italian descent underrepresented in genealogical DNA testing? I think the answer is yes.

To derive this conclusion, I examined ySearch, the largest public-access y-DNA database. As of today (26 October 2006), it contained a total of 33,570 records. Only 282 of those records identify someone from Italy as their most distant ancestor: less than 0.9%.

According to an analysis of the 2000 U.S. census, approximately 5.6% of Americans identified themselves as having Italian ancestry.

That is quite a gap, and can probably best be explained by an disproportionately high level of interest in genealogy on the part of folks from the British Isles.
EDIT: Ken Nordvedt pointed out that the Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation y-chromosome database contains a much higher proportion of Italian samples: about 2.1%. It is speculated that the SMGF makes an effort to include a diverse array of ancestrys.
Of course I'd like to see more Italian-Americans undertake an interest in genealogy, but the main point is that those who DO take genealogical tests should not be surprised to find that their closest genetic matches are not Italian but English, Scottish, Irish, etc. Because those groups are overrepresented in the databases relative to Italians (or anyone of Mediterranean origin, actually), sheer chance is bound to produce a number of near matches.


Blogger echoryan said...

I recently Had my brothers yDNA tested and was very confused by the matches because none of them were from Italy.I know that my paternal grandfather came from Torre Le Nocella .We have traced the family in the same village back to 1600s.

There is a great website for this towns's genealogy and I will try to encourage others to do the testing.

7:44 AM  

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