Changing Planet

Genographic Project Participants Help Refine Human Family Tree

The Genographic Project recently released the most refined evolutionary tree of the human Y chromosome, which every male inherits directly from his father. The new Y tree was created in part through the help of the 300,000 male participants that have joined this one-of-a-kind project to trace their own ancestry and become citizen scientists.

As more people participate in the Genographic Project, we are able to fill in branches and gaps on the entire human family tree, and gain new insights on our ancient past. We wanted to outline how this new tree affects our understanding of our shared ancestry, and what it means for current and future project participants.

Photo by George Mobley
Acacia trees are an iconic sight in East Africa, where genetic analysis suggests the most recent male common ancestor of all humans lived. (Photo by George Mobley)

Why should I be excited about the new tree?

Each human male carries a series of DNA mutations in his Y chromosomes that records a portion of the story of humanity. The story begins with a common ancient ancestor that lived in East Africa more than 150,000 years ago. The paternal tree, or “Y tree,” is a map that illustrates this deep-rooted relationship, and how billions of his descendants have expanded around the world. During that expansion, these descendants acquired and maintained mutations or changes in their DNA that occurred at particular times and places. The new Y tree illustrates the progressions of these known mutational events showing the many ways all people are related. The new tree is particularly exciting if you are a male and a Genographic Project participant, since you will see that your own results are now even further refined!

How did Genographic Project Participants help create the new Y tree?

The Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry Kit invites participants to test their own ancient ancestry by submitting a DNA sample to the project. Participants can then choose to opt into Genographic Project scientific research to have their DNA results compared to those of thousands of other participants. When comparing the DNA, Genographic scientists look for changes or mutations in participants’ results that help determine when new lineages may have begun. Since changes accumulate over time, a large number of differences between two DNA samples would indicate the two lineages diverged long ago. Few differences would indicate a more recent split.

New Y chromosome tree. Image includes the tree core and colors correspond to geographical areas on the map
The new Y chromosome tree shows mutation names (small blue font) and haplogroup names (letters on right side). The colors correspond to the geographical areas on the map. (Image by the Genographic Project)

How different is this Y chromosome tree to the previous versions used by the Genographic Project? The number of branches nearly doubled from 667 to more than 1,200 on our new paternal tree. As a result, new connections and new bifurcations (branch splitting) have since emerged. For example, haplogroup C (a male lineage common in South Asians) now shows patterns of deep-rooted relatedness among East Asians, Aboriginal Australians, and Native Americans.

The overall structure of the tree remains consistent with past versions, thus not affecting major haplogroup (or lineage) designations. However, more branches mean greater geographic specificity–helping us narrow down where specific lineages are found and when they originated.

What does this mean for Genographic Project Participants’ results? Male results may have changed slightly since we gained greater insights into the paternal migratory paths and discovered new branch tips on the shared Y tree. In particular, we gained a new understanding of internal branching patterns of the tree and of events that occurred between 10,000 and 60,000 years ago as humans moved to populate every corner of the earth.

New Genographic Project participant result
The new Genographic Project participant results incorporate more information in an even simpler design. (Image by the Genographic Project)

What’s next? We are looking at the maternal ancestral tree right now and should have additional information featuring your input in the weeks to come.

This is an exciting moment for The Genographic Project as we can actively show the power of participant involvement in advancing genetics and anthropology. So, thank you again, and please continue to reach out to us with your questions and your stories.

Dr. Miguel Vilar is the Science Manager for National Geographic's Genographic Project. Miguel is also a molecular anthropologist and a science writer. His fieldwork has taken him to remote places throughout the South Pacific, East Africa, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean. In the laboratory he researches the modern genetic diversity of human populations from Melanesia, Micronesia, North and Central America, and the Caribbean. Miguel has published in several anthropology and genetics journals, as well as popular science magazines.
  • Ann Turner

    Where can we view the complete tree?

  • Karl R. Horstmann

    So I recently received results identifying haplogroups for me. Will National geographic be sending me refinements relating to geographic specificity or perhaps relating to the reference populations identified for me? Or do I need to pay to be tested again? Thank you for your attention to my query.

  • Fraser Rawlinson

    Good luck to us all!

  • Engelbert Onno Johannes Faber

    See my family tree from 1620 on my website :

  • Zinat Sadat Moussavi

    Hello my best friends all around the world. I am a retired teacher whose entertainment is just studying natural phenomenon and writing novels with the theme of nature and its environment , lovely animals and dangers of human beings against wild life. thank you for your favour!

  • Elisa

    I would like to participate in the Genoproject. What do I need to do?

  • Laura Lee

    How can I get to be a part of this. I would love to know more about my family’s ancestors.

  • Jules

    What a bunch of bunk. How come some men in Western Cameroon (Mbo tribe) have 338,000 years old Y-DNA that has not mutated in all that time, yet we all come from some made up Adam and they don’t? They don’t update mtDNA groups and Y-DNA is all they care about. A shoddy job of it too. How do you explain the men in western Africa?

  • Adrian

    After all, Mongolian have more significant different DNA with Chinese and Southeast Asians rather than Australian Aborigines, Pacific Islander even thought Mongolia and China sibling a neighbor because Mongolian, Ainu Japanese, Australian Aborigines, etc have a Y Chromosome Haplogroup C. In other word, they are an old Asians.

  • Dr Louise A Hall-Motin

    How can we become a part of this project?

  • Dr. Linda Pall

    I would like to find the results of myswab. I was a Genographic Participant, ID # FW378665T5. I do not see a place where I can log in this number and receive results or other instructions for accessing these results.

    Can you help? I lost track of this and had a serious illness intervene so it was a couple of years ago (at least) when I sent in the kit. i TRUST THE GIFT THAT WAS SO GENEROUSLY GIVEN TO ME WILL YIELD FASCINATING INFORMATION!!!

    Thank you for your help.

    Dr. Linda Pall
    304 East A Street
    Moscow, ID 83843

  • Ernesto Cervantes

    I I was born in Mexico City but nationalize USA citizen can I know where I come from since I don’t know much about my family roots kind of got lost ?
    need help ..

  • Irma Clarke

    I received my results however, I would like to know if a patrilineal study would ever be possible for me to obtain.

  • George Biggs

    Is it possible by current testing to distinguish between Irish and Scottish ancestry? If not, will it be possible in the future, in your opinion? Thanks!

  • D LWebster

    I have just ordered my initial Geno-kit and am excited to receive it and then receive the kit. I have recently been tracking my known ancestry but this should give me more detail for a far better understanding of farther back in my history. Glad to be part of the project.

  • Tsibochkin Serhii

    How can I and my family take a part in this project?

  • William R. Jordan III

    I have my results and would like to sign up to make them available for your study. But I haven’t been able to figure out how to do this via your web site. If you can advise me how to do this, I’d appreciate it.
    Bill Jordan III

  • William R. Jordan III

    I requested advice on how to make the results of my DNA analysis available for your project, but don’t believe I have received a reply. When I attempted to send a follow-up note, I got a note saying that I’d already asked that question. I guess so, but still no response, unless I somehow missed it.
    Bill Jordan III

  • Arlene Johnston

    How can I get a kit for hair analysis?

  • Donald

    Interested in this study

  • Guillermo Miralles C.

    The project is wonderfull . I d like to participate. Please let me know what should I do.Thanks.

  • C Cruz

    Where can I obtain a diagram of this new Genographic Y-Tree? Do you have a table of short haplogroup notation to long notation? How different is it from the latest ISOGG Y-Tree?


    I have just finished subscribing, but am not sure how much, if any, information my wife will get about her side of the family if our son is the one whose DNA we have tested. Please explain.

  • mae silver

    I do not understand what you have shown me. Graphs without explanations, number clusters without meaning, so I am 1.6 % neaderthal, and then what? I need a translator. $200 for what?

  • Karla Luhrs

    Was wondering how can I participate in this project? I cannot see any information on how to. Thank you.

  • Elena Davis

    How do I sign up for the process?

  • Cheryl McMillan

    How can I get to be a part of this. I would love to know more about my family’s ancestors.

  • Cheryl McMillan

    How can I get to be a part of this. I would love to know more about my ancestors

  • jasmine

    I would love to be part of this study. How do I get involved?

  • Britt Bousman

    It would be very helpful if you posted a current list of the most significant journal articles that document these recent discoveries that interested participants could track down and read. For instance, where is the new Y-tree published?

  • Manuela Mahler

    I truly recommend that you participate in in this project. It will make you feel truly relevant.

  • Jacques Maurice Chaperon

    I saw a program on tv,about ancestry.The gist of the matter was that all the people taking part in the program were somehow related.All the people came from the Queens part of the USA.I come from the island of Mauritius but have been a naturalised Australian for the past 47years.I would like to go deeper and find out the roots of my origin.Thank you.

  • kimberly holden

    How do i get involved.. ??

  • Silambarasan Moorthy

    Please purchase “Geno 2.0, DNA ancestry Kit” for those who wants to get involved in this project. The kit will be delivered to you and you have to send your DNA sample back with the instructions given in the kit. Good luck!

  • C Cruz

    My wife’s Y-DNA haplogroup (via testing a paternal cousin) changed from R-P310 to R-V221 (new in Genographic tree?)in December 2014 and now (January 2015) it is back to R-P310. No notification of the changes nor explanations for the flip-flopping has been given. Could you keep us bettter informed so that we can have some confidence in your results? I am sure that we would also like to see what your new tree looks like and how it compares to the ISOOG tree.

  • Yoan

    I participated a few years ago and received my results pretty quickly. It was interesting to see my ancestral composition but it opened up lots of new questions and insights that I could not explore due to the secrecy behind the science of this project, and the restricted nature of what NatGeo allows you to see.

    There is a list of reference populations that you are matched against, but there is no explanation as to why certain countries are on there and others aren’t. For example, the reference populations in the Balkans are Greece and Bulgaria, but Romania, Serbia, Albania and Macedonia are not listed. When I tried to find out how and why reference populations were created, I was told that it is done through a proprietary formula that is not available to the public.

    I found the heatmaps of my maternal and paternal lineages to be extremely interesting. It was my favorite part of the results, and so I naturally wanted to see the heatmaps for other mtDNA and YDNA haplogroups. Guess what? NatGeo does not think you should be able to see those and there is no way to access them. When I requested the maps for personal study, I was denied.

    Maybe most participants are satisfied with the few bits of info that the project provides, but it is not enough for me, given the $200 price tag at the time I bought into it. It’s not like I’m asking for data that doesn’t exist. I just want to have access to the complete findings of the project, and not just a few tiny bits that NatGeo thinks are relevant to me.

    This latest “Y map” is more of the same. The article says that the project has now mapped the relatedness of over 1200 branches on the Y-chromosome, but all they’ve given us is a crude regional map and a chart with 37 branches, representing a meager 3% of the data treasure trove they have collected. Thanks, I guess…

    I can’t help but to feel cheated.

  • Bob Holden

    I would be interested in participating. What would be involved

  • José Sánchez Narvaez

    Quisiera saber cómo y dónde me inscribo para participar en Proyecto genogrphic.

  • P.S.

    So are women able to participate and would it be as accurate as male participants? Please send me information on how to obtain more informat ion for myself and my husband. Thank you so much and I look forward to your reply.

  • Ken Wilkinson

    I would like to participate in the Genoproject. What do I need to do?

  • Deborah A. frodigh

    I bought the genome test for my Dad years ago. Got the result. Have his special number. Plugged it in. Nothing.
    Please dont tell me I have to pay again and redo his test to get more results.

  • Tahmid Chowdhury

    Can You Find My Family’s Ancestry.

  • Barbara Collins

    Where can I find your answers to many very interesting questions I’ve read in the comments? The questions are reasonable, but answers are not obviously available. Why not? and where can I find them?

  • Antonia K.Hussey

    I sent in my swab but can’t find out the status.

  • Antonia K.Hussey

    How do I check on the status of my swab?

  • ferran

    How can I get to be a part of this. I would love to know more about my family’s ancestors

  • ferran

    What I do to participate ? Thanks

  • Erika Fisher

    I’ve always wanted to learn about my ancestors and all I’ve found so far is that I’m a big mix of everything. I’ve never been able to pinpoint where my ancestors are from. How do I become a part of this?

  • Lou Vignates

    From their comments, people who have taken part seem very disappointed at the dearth of information you provide. Seems as though Nat. Geo. gets what they want, but people participating don’t get much at all.
    This killed my interest in taking part.

  • Janine

    I paid to be part of a similar test a few years ago via Will the results I get from GENO 2.0 give me more information than the results? As you unlock more paths and refine new information a few years from now, will participants be able to go to the NatGeo site and use their ID #s to learn how we fit into the new information?
    Thank you!

  • Greg Mead

    Please keep me informed

  • Susanne Heron

    Well, based on the comments above, I’ll be looking elsewhere for a good genealogically based, informative DNA test. The comparison chart I viewed did say that the results of the NG test could be passed into Family Tree, at no charge, but very little detail was forthcoming. Will keep looking for a program that will give value for my dollar.

  • John a torza jr

    How do I get tested. I’m very interested. Thanks

  • Gang Liu

    There is an error on the new Y tree. It should be P186 instead of M186 for The O Group.

  • Petar

    I see just few people satisfied; will they do something about it?

  • Ruurd Abma

    We submitted our DNA in 2010. The story we received back about our ancestry stopped at 10,000 years ago. I found this a little disappointing. For instance due to the ice age NW Europe by that time was hardly populated. Are you already in a position to refine the ancestry story to say a few centuries ago? Or do you wish us to re-submit our DNA?

    • Hello Ruurd,

      With mitochondrial DNA and Y-chromosome DNA the story we can tell is often and ancient one. However, since 2012 we have been able to give more specific stories and lineage definitions thanks to the new GenoChip. Read about Geno 2 and the GenoChip on

      Thank you, Miguel

  • Rashidah Karim

    Very new but interested in this project. However, I notice that the R2, R1a and P2 haplotypes, being displayed in brown on the geographic map of the haplotypes cannot be differentiated. Why is this?

    • Hello Rashidah,

      Thank you for your interest. As you can see in many cases we grouped the haplotypes and haplogroups by region. However, R2, R1a and P are very different haplogroups, and with a more detailed map we would certainly separate those geographically.

      Thank you, Miguel

    • The haplotypes can be differentiated, they were only grouped together because of geographical proximity.

  • Diana

    I was really excited about this project and was about to sign up when I read all the negative comments above. Very disappointing as I have always believed that Nat Geo was a rigorous scientific organization. It would appear that whoever is in charge of this project is perhaps not up to the challenge. When I read more positive comments I will consider buying into it.

  • tulio

    Me gusta, cómo procedo ?

  • Preston Garrison

    I did Geno 2 about a year ago, and it turned out to be a very efficient way to define my SNPs down to several thousand years ago. People need to understand that this is a deep ancestry test, not something you do to identify family members (cousins.) For that you nee do test Y-STRs, preferably at least the 67-STR panels.

    In some terminal branches, there are those who have defined SNPs into the usual genealogical time frame, and eventually that will be true for far more people when enough have done sequencing of their Y chromosomes, but for now STR testing is the way to test distant family relations.

  • Steve

    Go to if you are looking to participate.

    I’m waiting for my results.

    Looks like NG need a webmaster to respond in article comment threads.

    • Hello Steve, I hope you received your results. Thanks for your patience. I will keep attempting to respond to the article comments as I can.

  • Miguel Vilar

    Thank you for the comments. I will attempt to answer many:

    -Genographic is more of a deep ancestry (anthropological) test, not a test to find close relatives. Our partners, Family Tree DNA can help with the latter (they use STR mutations).
    – The new tree is on, but only the core. To see the complete tree (1000s branches) contact FT-DNA.
    – Reference populations are not updated on Geno 2.0
    – You can join the project through
    – The colors on the map are just for geographic reference
    – Any questions about the science are always welcome, our email address is on our website. Thank you.

  • Paul Gill

    Geno 2.0 is a completly useless dna test, total waste of money.

    1. It is incomplete in everywhichway.
    2. You have no way of finding out anything about the people who are in your group. For example, I am Ydna J1-Z1853, they say that 0.3% of all the participants are J1-Z1853, but only 5 of us have shared there story and we know nothing about the rest 2111, as to who they are(ethnic group), where they are from, The Nathional Geographic Genographic Project can at least give us that much information about the participants without jeopardizing their privacy. Only this tiny little information can make this test very valuable.

  • Judith Martin

    I have cross-checked the Geno results with documentation and historical information I have from traditional family research. The difference I observe with the Geno results is that they are not hesitant to indicate tribes and origins for ALL Earth’s peoples, back to the beginning in southeast Africa. So, in effect, no matter what we all may look like on the outside, we are at heart, all one big family after all!

  • Cyndy

    We had always heard that my grandmother was part Blackfoot, Native American. She sure looked Indian, black hair but had blue eyes, beautiful lady. She was born in Utah in 1893. Her maternal Haplo Group is X2C1 so we can’t tell from this whether she is Native American or Irish/Scottish, as were the parents who raised her. Is there another way to discern her lineage?

    • Cyndy,
      As you noted, you cannot tell based on her mtDNA is she was part Blackfoot since that lineage that you listed in more commonly associated with European groups. The Geno 2.0 test, however, does look at the rest of the genome and can estimate the percentage of Native American markers in her DNA. Testing her, or her closest direct relative with this test you may be able to start to answer that question. Best wishes, MV

  • James Rhea

    I received my results a year ago and have received some updates since then. I much prefer the results I received from Nat Geo than the results some friends have received from other organizations. Some other tests attempt to identify whether someone is “French” or “German” or another nationality instead of focusing more on haplogroups, which are shared across nationalities.

  • Ildiko Pinter

    I am very interested in your findings regarding the origins of the people and the movements that can be traced. I am not interested in my own family tree, however I will gladly contribute to your research if I can an insight to the whole picture

    • Idiko,

      Have you participated in the Project?

      Best, MV

  • Aurora Calderon

    Hi Miguel:
    7 Years ago my sister did her mtdna with the genome project. The result was MTDNA C, we celebrate our Taino heritage but for our surprise seven years later some Censo documents say my last MTDNA female in the 1830 and her husband where from Valencia Spain. Fact that upside down my tree.Then the journey begun! My personal investigation shows my ancestors are almost every part of the world . In my case, I could tell from my Europeans ancestors brought DNA and MTDNA from everywhere: from Africa, Asia , Middle east , the Siberian, Iceland, to Europe, again to the middle east, Jew , Arab, Canarias Island, Berebere . You name it, and I have it. We have to rethink that the 450,000. Europeans that came to Puerto Rico through the period of the Cedula de Gracia and the ones that came in the first centuries of the colonization brought Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle east in their DNA.( I did also the Autosomal and my dad DNA Y test)
    Maybe is only my ancestors journeys but I have notice similar patron in several puertorican DNA and trees. I’m making this note rethinking the puertorican ancestors journey, it seem more admix that we have thought.

    • Hi Aurora,

      Thank you for your comment!
      You are right, there were people from all over the world that came to Puerto Rico. Some researchers have begun to use some new statistical analysis to attempt to learn what groups may have come when. I saw one such study looking at different African lineages, and trying to figure out when and from where they may have arrived. There is so much that we are learning every year with the improving capability to do more and more DNA sequencing. Thanks again!

  • Barbara Staley Brown

    I gave my husband two Generation 1 DNA kits as gifts, unfortunately, he did not use them before the one year deadline. The kits are unopened. Is it possible to donate these kits back to the Genographic Project to be used to collect the DNA of people you wish to study but who cannot afford a kit? I realize that these kits will not yield the quality of information that a Generation 2 kit can, but perhaps some interesting data can still be parsed from them.

    • Your old kits can be used on the new technology, so if you would like you can still use your Generation 1 DNA kits. If you would rather donate them back to us, please feel free to email me separately at

  • Paotai Tien

    Last year, my Genographic report showed: 1. Denisovan %, as well as the Neanderthal % Hominin ancestry. Visiting the site today after an absence of almost year, I find the Denisovan category gone. 2. % of Han Chinese. This specificity is also gone today.What explanations did I miss on these changes this past year? I like the original report with apparently more specificity than what is tracked today.

  • Aurora Calderon

    Hi Miguel: Thank you for answer me, I did not notice you wrote me until today.
    I wrote you in february 2016. I did the MTDNA full sequence and it came Cb1( I have 5% Native american in autosomal DNA). The problem is: it do not match with my last MTDNA ancestors that was from Vinaros, Valencia, Spain. I have three theories: 1-One of my MTDNA ancestors is a”hija de crianza” but not a biological daughter, which it was very common in Puerto Rico. 2- Could be possible that I confused the surnames and she is a daughter of an immigrant( surname Fosis ) from the East Coast that went to Barbados. I have seen some DNA matches in the east coast with Native American DNA. It get really confusing because I have another Branch that emigrates from England to the East Coast and then to Barbados and then came to PR. Possible a double admix what is common in Puerto Rico. 3- This is an ancestors lost in time and coordinates and somehow she born in Spain. I saw a match HRV1 MTDNA C that also claim that her MTDNA ancestor is from Spain too. FTDNA gave me only one Cb1 match and is from Republica Dominicana, In Gedmatch I have only seven matches.
    Is very interesting because in puerto Rico we have not put any attention to the relationship with the other islands of the caribbean. And now we have to contemplate others journeys of ours ancestors or even other journeys in Europe.

  • John Porter

    I have recently rcvd my results for the familytreedna BigY test. I would like to share these results within your project but do noy know how to do this. I have a rare Y DNA profile, being a caucasian man with blue eyes AND Haplogroup A-V25. My paternal ancestry came through Ireland, possibly Scotland and Scandinavia before that. I think my results would help both the project and me.

  • Ken F

    I saw somewhere in your literature that you could supply other data about physiological/health type stuff on one’s lineage. Is this still available, and how could one obtain it? Thanks. Ken.

  • Andrew Paul Schettino

    I received my DNA results on April 1, 2017. I just yesterday checked in to see a few interesting changes in my story. What an amazing research project, My results confirmed much of what I have heard about my Schettino ancestors in Northeastern Italy, where we have apparently been for 10s of thousands of years.

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