Researchers build family tree with 13 million people

Are we all related? The genealogy website Geni claims over 70 million users.

(Credit: Geni.com)

How much do you know about your ancestors? Many people can’t trace their family back more than a century, but researchers have grown a family tree with more than 13 million people in it.

Yaniv Erlich and colleagues at MIT’s Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research have used data that goes back to the 15th century to shed light on how genetic traits influence successive generations.

In a presentation to an American Society of Human Genetics meeting, Erlich explained how using social networks can be useful for tracing characteristics in very large families.

While it’s very costly and time-consuming to conduct large-scale genetic studies, popular genealogy sites can be a useful source of free data for research.

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