Different Microbiome Results from Different Providers on Same Sample

This is part 2 of Unclassified Bacteria, Fungi and Virus and I will continue with this analogy

So doing a microbiome test is like collecting the DNA from a bunch of people at a major airport and then asking: Which country did this person originated from according to their DNA. You will find some people that are good matches to an ethnic origin and some people that are “Heinz 57” aka “Mutts”. These people are unclassified — just like some living components are unclassified.

Let us look at my own DNA to illustrate the issue better. The same DNA file was used for ALL of the following charts. Why do they not agree? Simple — thing are done by matching patterns. The reference library determines where matches are done. Every provider use difference reference libraries. There is no universal reference for Human DNA, nor for the microbiome.

From 23 and Me
From Ancestry

and one more site, this one almost causes whip lapse!


One site offers the choice of reference library to use and how to match


GEDMATCH show where your DNA matches historical samples

I look very Irish here

When we drill down to the next level, we see different “species names”

From 23 and me

Wait — we are talking about where

The above patterns are based on matching to current populations. We really would like older populations. There is a site that does that! My True Ancestry. The same DNA file suggests more UK or southern Germany. We could view this as an illustration between 16s and shotgun reports.

It is interesting to note that this seems closer to Family Tree DNA results shown above.

In some cases, it is not where the ancestors came from BUT where ancestor siblings settled, as in Iceland and the Shetland Island. The same can happen with bacteria identification. All that we know is that some components are shared.

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