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Living DNA Initiates Ancestry Testing Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – Living DNA, a Somerset, UK-based consumer genomics company, said this week that it has partnered with a team of academics to create a detailed genetic map of the world based on people's DNA.

The effort, called One World Family Tree, relies on Living DNA's ancestry testing platform, and involves representatives from numerous institutions.

Living DNA is appealing to participants to take part in the project by ordering its $99 service. Customers of other ancestry testing firms, such as AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA, can also upload their data for free, the company said.

Once they have the data, Living DNA and its partners will not only use it for the One World Family Tree project, but will provide participants with information about their ancestry, while matching them with others who share it. The company will use the same custom Illumina array platform and analytical tools it used previously in the 2015 Peopling of the British Isles study that allowed scientists to ascertain regional genetic differences in the UK and Ireland.

Living DNA commercialized its test, which can break down the origins of a customer’s ancestry into 80 worldwide populations and regions, including 21 areas within Britain alone, last year.

In a statement, University of York research associate Bart Lambert called the One Family One World project "ambitious and timely." Lambert, who is assisting Living DNA with the effort, said it "allows users to explore their ancestry in completely new ways."

Other institutions taking part in the project include Trinity College Dublin, Vanderbilt University, the University of Texas, the University of Utah, the University of Copenhagen, the University of Iceland, and the University of Sydney.

Although its corporate headquarters are in the UK, Living DNA earlier this year expanded its presence to the US, where about half of its customers are located, a company official said.