Gencove DNA testing for genealogy – Review

Gencove is a new company to watch in the world of DNA testing. Like the Illumina-backed Helix, the company is offering a a platform for developers to build applications around the DNA samples that Gencove manages. Whilst Gencove will take DNA samples from other sources (think 23andMe and Ancestry) they are promoting their use of low-coverage Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS). As their website states:

“Gencove has developed a new low-coverage Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) process to replace commonly used SNP Arrays. We sequence a random 10% to 20% of the genome in contrast to a SNP array, where about 0.02% of the genome is covered. Using a method called imputation, we can compare the sequenced bits to reference genomes and fill in many of the blanks.”

Currently they are offering the test for $59.99 and are shipping worldwide. Once your data has been sequenced it’s available to download as either a .vcf file with imputed genotype probabilities or file with SNP array data.

From the genetic genealogist’s viewpoint Gencove offers the now-familiar ethnicity testing. The test is fairly high level, covering 22 regions of the world. My results are shown below:

Gencove Ancestry Results

On top of this you get a map of the world showing the areas each region covers. As usual the boundaries are rather fluffy (as they should be).

These results are not too different from my results with other testing companies, however since my known ancestry is all British Isles the results are not earth-shattering.

On top of the ancestry app the initial offering four genomics apps. These cover “Open Science” so that you can “Contribute to research and citizen science”, a “Sleep App – Are you a morning or evening person”, an opportunity to “Discover your microbiome” i.e. the “Bacteria and viruses that live in your mouth” and the most interesting one “YouGenomics India” which want to “Help improve genomics for South Asia”. The later app is currently working with the South Asian diaspora in the United States to build a better quality biobank of South Asian people as well as using the data to provide more defined ethnicity estimates by breaking the South Asian ethnicity into ““Central Indian subcontinent”, “Southern Indian subcontinent”, and “Bengal”.

As ever, for any DNA testing company it’s worth reading their Privacy Policy available at https://app.gencove.com/privacy. If you are interested in the work of this company you can follow updates and announcements via the Gencove blog.

Out of curiosity I’m planning to order their Whole Genome Sequencing. If I find anything interesting from the data, I’ll update this blog.

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