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27 Million People Linked in Largest-ever Family Tree

Researchers at the University of Oxford’s Big Data Institute have created the largest-ever Family Tree, which links more than 27 million people — both living and long-dead — worldwide. This marks a significant milestone in the journey toward mapping the entirety of human genetic relationships, per the groundbreaking study published in Science.

The Family Tree helps us know more about where and when our human ancestors lived — namely in Africa. It also could predict who might be more susceptible to diseases such as COVID-19. Yan Wong, an evolutionary geneticist at the institute and the co-author of the study, said that they have built a vast Family Tree, a genealogy for all of humanity, that models as precisely as we can the history that generated all the genetic variation we find in humans today.

This genealogy allows us to see how every person’s genetic sequence relates to every other, along with all the points of the genome. In layperson’s terms, the comprehensive tree, which appeared as both a research paper and a video, depicts how people worldwide are interrelated as an all-encompassing 23andMe.Until now, genetic cartographers have struggled with devising algorithms to process these massive amounts of data.

However, researchers can easily match data from multiple sources and incorporate millions of genetic sequences through the new method detailed in the study.The study used data from both modern and ancient human genomes from eight different databases, spanning a total of 3,609 individual genome sequences from 215 populations across the world. The ancient genomes ranged in age from 1,000 to over 100,000, while “the resulting network contained almost 27 million ancestors.

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