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Ancestry DNA Updated Genetic Communities

Have you seen your Ancestry DNA results lately? They may have gone through an update since last time you checked because Ancestry updates their Genetic Communities feature on our ethnicity estimates at least twice each year.

In this post, learn about the most recent communities update which occurred in May 2021. You will discover:

  • The 4 main regions of the world that have added new Genetic Communities for this update
  • How to access your updated Ancestry DNA results to see if you have new Communities
  • What this new update means for your family tree
Ancestry DNA Updated Communities

Whenever we discuss ethnicity or ancestry estimates, it is always important to mention that we should never expect our results to exactly match our family tree. This is because we didn’t inherit DNA from all of our ancestors, and so our ethnicity estimates can only show results for the DNA that we did inherit.

Even so, it is always exciting when our DNA results, especially our ethnicity estimate, goes through an update. As the science behind ethnicity estimate improves, we can expect more detail and accuracy.

This latest update, which now brings the total number of regions Ancestry DNA results tests to more than 1400 spanning six continents, does not disappoint! Let’s get started digging into the details of the new Communities added this time.

Which Genetic Communities were added with the latest update?

The May 2021 update saw four main regions add a total of 53 new Genetic Communities. If you have ancestry in the Balkans, Western Asia, the Mediterranean, or East Africa, then you might have a new Community in your results.

Genetic Communities are especially interesting because they can tease out of family’s more recent ancestry. This is a bit different than the regions that we see on our Ethnicity Estimate, since DNA from those areas could be from very distant ancestors.

This latest update is especially exciting for those Ancestry DNA customers with Eastern European Roma ancestry, since this is brand-new for this update. You can find this community under the main Balkans Genetic Community.

Each of the regions increased its number of Communities:

  • Balkans (10 Communities – up from 0)
  • Mediterranean (30 Communities – up from 2)
  • East Africa (1 Community – up from 0)
  • Western Asia (15 Communities – up from 1)

The Genetic Communities technology is considered by the genetic genealogist community to be one of the most accurate in terms of being able to show us where some of our recent ancestors lived.

These Communities now leave us with more than 1400 total regions and populations that could possibly show up on our DNA results. The total number of Communities and regions we now see for each continent are as follows:

  • America (includes North and South America) – 133
  • Europe – 1174
  • Afria – 111
  • Asia – 56
  • West Asia – 33
  • Oceana (including Australia) – 12

If my math is right, that is a total of 1519 regions and populations that might match our DNA. Ancestry DNA has been consistently adding more specific Communities for non-European populations, and I hope that this continues. This is very important for helping DNA testers with primarily non-European ancestry learn more about where their ancestors likely lived.

The science behind Communities uses DNA testing and family trees in order to determine groups of people who are likely descended from the same groups of common ancestors. One thing that we can do to help this technology, no matter where our ancestors were from, is to be sure to build a family tree on Ancestry and connect our DNA results to our tree.

This can help improve Communities and the DNA testing experience for everyone who uses Ancestry.

How to find out if your Ancestry DNA results were updated?

The best way to see whether your Ancestry DNA results have something new to show you is to log in and take a look at your results. You might see new ethnicity regions or Genetic Communities, and you are almost sure to see new DNA matches, as new genetic relatives are added to our DNA match list regularly.

Even if you don’t think that you have ancestry in any of the four regions that I mentioned above that saw an increase in the number of Communities for this update, it is worth checking. As we know, our DNA results can often surprise us!

Each time you take a look at your ethnicity estimate, you are bound to learn something new or notice something that you missed before. This is true even when your DNA results haven’t changed since the last time that you looked at them.

However, if you haven’t seen your results in a year or so, it is very likely that some aspect of your results have changed. Perhaps you have a few Genetic Communities that you didn’t have previously, or slightly different percentages on your ethnicity estimate.

So, to get the most from your Ancestry DNA test, I highly recommend that you check back every once in a while to see what’s new. Maybe you will be inspired to work more on your family tree, or get one started – if you haven’t already.

Past Ancestry DNA Genetic Communities updates

We have seen updates occur in our Ancestry DNA results, and specifically added Communities, about twice each year. There have been six updates between the beginning of 2019 and this latest May, 2021 update:

  • February 19, 2019
  • June 19, 2019
  • October 17, 2019
  • April 3, 2020
  • July 31, 2020
  • February 1, 2021

Which Genetic Communities were added in the previous update?

In the previous update, which occurred in February 2021, we saw new Genetic Communities added in Germanic Europe, as well as in three regions in the United States: New England, Mid-Atlantic, and the Midwest. This was a fairly big update, with nearly 300 new Genetic Communities added.

Most of the new regions added with the February 2021 Ancestry DNA update were regions in the United States that saw lots of growth due to immigration. This information can be helpful when we are exploring our family tree, since they can provide clues about exactly where in the United States our more recent ancestors put down roots.

For example, I am working on a bit of a mystery on my mother’s side of the family. There are two ancestors who have been difficult to trace, and I have been working a few different “leads”.

One possibility is that my Thompson ancestor who lived in Rhode Island at some point during his life, was an immigrant to the United States. Alternatively, I have found evidence that he may have been born in Massachusetts.

My mother’s DNA results were updated at the beginning of 2021 to show that her DNA matches the Southeast Massachusetts and Southern Nova Scotia Settlers Genetic Community. This is a major clue that my mother’s ancestor is descended from a population that inhabited Massachusetts early on in the country’s development, and was not a recent immigrant himself.


I hope that this post has helped you understand more about your updated Ancestry DNA Communities, what is new with the most recent update, and how these updates can help you learn more about where your ancestors may have lived.

If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you are excited about your updated results and would like to share a new community that you see, I would love to hear from you in the discussion below.

Thanks for stopping by today!

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