The Genographic Project

The project is a mutliyear research initiative of the National Geographic Society. Genographic was launched in 2005 by geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells, and it is currently led by anthropologist Dr. Miguel Vilar. Vilar and a team of renowned scientists are using cutting-edge genetic and computational technologies to analyze historical patterns in DNA from participants around the world to better understand our shared genetic roots.

The Genographic Project is anonymous, nonmedical, and nonprofit.

The Genographic Project aims are: 1 – to gather and analyze research data in collaboration with indigenous and traditional peoples, 2 – to invite, encourage, and educate the public through participation in this real-time citizen-science project, while they learn about their own deep ancestry, and 3 – to support scientific research and community-led conservation and revitalization by investing a portion of the proceeds from the Genographic DNA kit sales into National Geographic Society grants.

With a new 2016 partnership with Helix, Genographic Project participants can take control of their genetic results and explore even more deeply what else is hidden in their DNA.

Geno 2.0 Next Generation Kit

Building on the science from the earlier phases of the Genographic Project, we have developed a cutting-edge new test kit, called Geno 2.0 Next Generation, that enables members of the public to participate in the Genographic Project while learning fascinating insights about their own ancestry. The Geno 2.0 Next Generation test examines a unique collection of nearly 300,000 DNA identifiers, called “markers,” that have been specifically selected to provide unprecedented ancestry-relevant information.

From just a simple saliva sample, we can isolate your unique DNA. We then run a comprehensive analysis to identify thousands of genetic markers on your mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down each generation from mother to child, to reveal your direct maternal deep ancestry. In the case of men, we will also examine markers on the Y chromosome, which is passed down from father to son, to reveal your direct paternal deep ancestry. In addition, for all participants, we analyze a collection of more than 250,000 other ancestry-informative markers from across your entire genome to reveal the regional affiliations of your ancestry, offering insights into your ancestors who are not on a direct maternal or paternal line.

The Science Behind

The fossil record places human origins in Africa some 150,000 years ago, but science continues to search for details about the incredible journey that took Homo sapiens from Africa to the far reaches of the Earth. How did each of us end up where we are? Why do we have such a wide variety of colors and features?

Through the eons of time, the full story of human ancestry remains written in our genes. When DNA is passed from one generation to the next, most of it is recombined by the processes that give each of us our individuality. But some parts of the DNA chain remain largely intact through the generations, altered only occasionally by random mutations, which become what are called genetic markers. The order in which these markers occur allows geneticists to trace our common evolutionary time line back many generations.

Different populations carry distinct mutation, or genetic markers. Identifying and following the markers back through generations reveals a relationship shared by all humans, best conceptualized in the form of a genetic tree. Today, thousands of diverse branches, corresponding to unique human groups, can be followed backward to their common African root more than 100 millennia ago.

Your Story

Your results give you an unprecedented view of your lineage. You will discover the migration paths your ancient ancestors followed hundreds and even thousands of years ago.

You will also learn the details of your unique ancestral makeup—the biological and geographical components that make up who you are. What are the ingredients, and how much of a mixture is your own DNA recipe?

Included in the 300,000 markers we test for is a subset that scientists have recently determined to be from our hominin cousins, the Neanderthals, who split from our lineage around 500,000 years ago.

As modern humans were first migrating out of Africa more than 60,000 years ago, Neanderthals were still alive and well in Europe and Asia. It seems that our ancestors met, leaving a small genetic trace of these ancient relatives in our DNA. With Geno 2.0 Next Generation, you will learn if you have any Neanderthal DNA in your genome.

Our Story

Your results are just the beginning. By regularly visiting the Genographic Project website you can find out more as Genographic scientists pull together connections, uncover new paths, and provide fresh insights into your ancestry.

You’ll find informative graphics, interactive features, video, and news stories, and learn about the broader historical context of your results.

If you choose to create a personal profile you can share your story with Genographic Project participants, gain further insight into your lineages, and connect with others around the world who share your deep ancestry. By registering you are able to receive email updates on the project, and it ensures you can access your results if you happen to lose your login and password.

By contributing your story to the larger community, you’ll take part in a real-time research project and, in the process, may learn something new and fascinating about yourself. It’s like having a subscription to your very own genetic history—and to the history of all of us.

The Human Story

Working together, we are unveiling the story of the greatest journey ever told: how our ancestors migrated from their African homeland to populate the Earth tens of thousands of years ago.

Together we can chart a more complete map of the early stages of human history by carefully comparing the DNA from world populations that have been genetically, and geographically, stable for hundreds or thousands of years.

How many migrations out of Africa were there? What role did the Silk Road, with its caravans and bazaars, play in dispersing genetic lineages across Eurasia? What can our genes tell us about the origins of languages? How did the great empires of history leave their genetic marks on our DNA? And if we all share such a recent common ancestry, why do we all look so different?

These are just some of the important questions the Genographic Project is asking. And through your participation, you will play a valuable role in helping answer them.

Welcome to the expedition of a lifetime!