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UT Tyler Biology Professor Enhances Commercial DNA Ancestry Discovery

The University of Texas at Tyler announced that Joshua Banta, PhD, associate professor of biology, collaborated with a genetic ancestry company to enhance their DNA ancestry discovery platform. Banta assisted the Spain-based company ADNTRO, which sells at-home DNA ancestry kits to those who are curious about their genetic makeup and predisposition in areas such as nutrition, sports, health, personality and aging.

Like products from other genetic ancestry companies, ADNTRO offers kits online to customers, who send a saliva sample to their labs and wait for results through the company’s website and app. Banta’s work uniquely provides some visualizations of these results that put them into the context of worldwide human populations using computational “pipelines” – or workflows – for large data sets.

The company’s CEO discovered Banta through his popular YouTube channel dedicated to computational analyses of biological data. The professor’s expertise is in population genetics and evolutionary biology.

“This module offers people a better idea of how they fit in with to the picture of global genetic diversity,” said Banta, who also directs the UT Tyler Center for Environment, Biodiversity and Conservation. “Basically, the algorithm compares genetic profiles with other profiles of people in the world and can show how similar and dissimilar you are from people of other countries.”

Banta said the “Ancestral Shape” module creates graphs of worldwide genetic diversity and shows the customer precisely how they fit in – for example, whether a customer has more Native American ancestry than the average American. Anyone can visit ADNTRO’s website and upload their DNA data from other companies for free.

Development lasted three months this summer, and the new feature launched earlier this month, Banta added. For more information, contact Banta at For additional information about ADNTRO, visit

With a mission to improve educational and healthcare outcomes for East Texas and beyond, UT Tyler offers more than 80 undergraduate and graduate programs to 10,000 students. UT Tyler recently merged with The University of Texas Health Science Center at Tyler (now known as The Health Science Center at UT Tyler). Through its alignment with The Health Science Center at UT Tyler (HSC) and UT Health East Texas, UT Tyler has unified these entities to serve Texas with quality education, cutting-edge research and excellent patient care. Classified by Carnegie as a doctoral research institution and by U.S. News & World Report as a national university, UT Tyler has campuses in Tyler, Longview, Palestine and Houston.

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