The Worldwide Surge in Ancestry DNA testing
As the ancestry DNA test picks up momentum worldwide, it has left certain populations deeply dissatisfied with the level of detail they receive from popular ancestry DNA testing sites. Specifically, the South Asian ancestry and other Asian ancestries seem to be severely underrepresented in the population breakup. It’s not hard to find grievances on the internet from individuals deeply dissatisfied with their ancestry test from major ancestry DNA testing companies.
South Asian Populations Underrepresented
People of European descent make up only about 10-20% of the world population, while Asians make up about 40% – which might seem to indicate that Asian ancestry estimation should be more robust than European. However, it’s not as straightforward as it seems due to two reasons. Firstly, genetics being a relatively new science has much higher accessibility in the west than in the east. Thus, more individuals with European ancestry had their genome read than those in the east. Hence, reference databases were readily available for western populations. Secondly, Asian populations are highly diverse and it would require sequencing sufficient number of individuals from each group to be able to provide a detailed break-up of various component of South Asian and other Asian ancestries.
Challenges in South Asian Ancestry testing
As an example, the reported 23andMe reference set for South Asian contains 822 individuals split between 15 populations (Afghan, Balochi, Bangladeshi, Brahui, Burusho, Hazara, Indian, Kalash, Makrani, Nepalese, Pakistani, Pathan, Sindhi, Sri Lankan, Uygur). This number is significantly less than the reference database available for European individuals. As of 2013, the total population in the South Asian countries which include Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka is 1.75 billion. That’s a staggering 23% of the world population. The demand for ancestry testing from this segment is expected to be huge.
Xcode’s Ancestry DNA Test
To fill the gap in South Asian ancestry testing services, Xcode Life has launched an ancestry DNA test named “Origin.” Origin provides global ancestry estimation as well as detailed South Asian ancestry estimation. Xcode Life’s ancestry DNA test covers multiple aspects. It covers the global ancestry composition, similar to the results provided by 23andme, ancestry DNA and fammily Tree DNA and others, where you get to learn about the percentage of DNA you inherited from various population groups around the world. In addition, Xcode’s ancestry also covers south asian sub-population analysis, where your DNA is matched with 35 closest ethnic groups across Asia.
Massive Cultural & social Diversity in India & its genetic Imprints
The highlight of Xcode’s ancestry DNA test is the South Asian Subpopulations composition. Xcode gives a detailed break up of the South Asian composition, a region that includes, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal and other neighboring countries. India is a country with 1,635 languages and dialects (Census, 2011) making it one of the most diverse nations in the world. It has been reported that the caste system has left its genetic imprints due to a long tradition of within group marriages. This also makes India a population of great interest for genetic research. Xcode’s ancestry report includes information on which ethnic group has the closest genetic proximity to you. This is technically known as genetic distance. Xcode’s test matches your DNA with more than 35 ethnic groups in India to deduce this information.
Paternal lineage is more than just following your surname. The ancestry DNA test uses the Y chromosome in males as the genetic reference point to track down your paternal lineage. Following this track will point out your most recent paternal ancestor.
Worldwide Launch of Xcode’s South Asian Ancestry services
Xcode has already launched this service for South Asian expatriates living in the USA, UK, Australia and other countries. The ancestry DNA test is now officially launched and available in India with various distribution partners and online at Xcode.in and Amazon.in.