In this CRI Genetics review, we measure their DNA test against the two things a consumer DNA test for family history should provide: ethnicity reports and DNA matches. This is how CRI Genetics stacks up.
We here at Your DNA Guide help thousands of people around the world learn more about their heritage via DNA testing. People ask us sometimes about CRI Genetics, which offers biogeographical ancestry reports based on autosomal DNA testing.
First, what you should understand is that if you are interested in learning more about your roots using DNA, there are TWO important types of information you should expect to receive with your test results:
- ethnicity or biogeographical results AND
- a list of your genetic relatives who have also tested with that company, and your genetic relationship to them
Let’s see how CRI Genetics measures up.
CRI Genetics: Ethnicity Reports
CRI Genetics administers an autosomal DNA test. According to its website, the company provides “dual ancestry reports (Recent Ancestry reflects the most recent 5-7 generations, while Ancient Ancestry reaches as far back as 1,000 years), and an Ancestry Timeline that reveals up to 50 generations back.”
In general, to generate ancestral ethnicity reports, companies compare a customer’s DNA sample to that of their own reference populations (people with documented roots in a region whose DNA shows a specific, shared signature).
When testing for an ethnicity estimate, it is to the client’s distinct advantage to use a company that has a deeply developed reference panel. As far as we can tell, CRI Genetics’ website doesn’t publish white papers detailing their methods (like the size and source of their reference population, or the algorithms they use to make ethnicity predictions). The only specific thing CRI offers is that part of their reference populations come from the 1000 Genomes collection (now held by IGSR), a scientific repository of geographically diverse samples that researchers can order and use. User beware: this amounts to only about 5000 samples to represent the genetic diversity of the entire world, less than 1/10th of the number of samples in AncestryDNA’s reference populations (56,580 samples), and about 1/3rd the number 23andMe uses (14,437 samples).
Furthermore, some other DNA testing companies now provide much more detailed resolution of your biogeographical origins, such as with MyHeritage’s Genetic Communities and AncestryDNA’s Genetic Groups, respectively. These tie your DNA to very specific groups of people, such as “Black Sea Germans in Ukraine (Odessa),” within the past few hundred years.
Here’s a summary table of what we’re saying. We think the numbers speak for themselves. (Keep reading to learn about the significance of that last column.)
CRI Genetics: DNA Matching
The other part of autosomal DNA testing for understanding your roots is a DNA match list, or a list of those in the company’s database who share a significant genetic similarity to you. Exploring and analyzing your DNA match list can help you connect with long-lost relatives, swap stories and photos, and even identify previously-unknown ancestors.
CRI Genetics does not come with a DNA match list. Period. You can’t connect with genetic relatives. While some people may not be ready or interested in connecting with relatives now, many people at least want to use the family trees attached to their DNA matches to help them extend their own family tree. And they may find themselves wanting to connect with relatives in the future–but there’s no option to do that with CRI Genetics. (If you really don’t want relatives to see you and you don’t want to see them, you can turn off your matching experience at several other testing companies, but later opt-in.)
Along with DNA match lists, some companies also provide excellent tools to help you compare your family tree with that of your matches and sort your matches into different branches of your family. Two of them also provide access (with a subscription) to enormous collections of historical records that can help you make connections between yourself and your DNA matches–and build out your family tree even further. CRI Genetics offers none of this, because there is no match list.
DNA Test Review: CRI Genetics
Compared to other DNA tests for family history, this one offers HALF of what the others do: ethnicity but no DNA match list. And the company is less than transparent about its reference populations and methods for generating ethnicity reports, so it’s difficult to know if their methods are on par with our other companies.
Some may find worth in CRI Genetics’ health reports. Without offering a comparison of these, (our interest in DNA testing is primarily for family history), we will say that if you’re interested in both health reports and family history, 23andMe offers health reports, has a DNA match list, and offers a genetic family tree tool to help people visualize possible relationships to matches.
What IS the best DNA testing company for family history?
We’re glad you asked. We DO have great reviews and comparisons of the “Big 5” DNA testing companies for family history: 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritage, Family Tree DNA and Living DNA.