MyHeritage DNA AutoClusters | Finding Your Matches

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

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MyHeritage DNA AutoClusters tool can help you target the DNA matches you want to work with–and find unique matches who may not have tested anywhere else. Here’s how Kelli used MyHeritage DNA’s AutoCluster tool to do just that.

MyHeritage DNA is one of many DNA testing services to which you can transfer your raw DNA from other sites. Seeing that there are several options available, you may think that it’s not worth transferring to MyHeritage DNA. But it is worth it! Transferring your DNA to MyHeritage DNA can help you find DNA matches that you may not find elsewhere. And their unique AutoClusters tool can help you target the matches you want to work with. 

MyHeritage DNA AutoClusters: Finding the DNA matches you want

Sorting autosomal matches is one of the best methods to use to build smaller genetic networks that can help you focus on specific branches of your family. You can sort your matches by using Best Known Matches (as described by Diahan Southard in Your DNA Guide–the Book), the Leeds Method, and many different clustering tools.

MyHeritage DNA has an autoclustering tool to help you sort your match list into clusters related to you on ancestral lines. If you go to DNA and then choose DNA tools, you will see the AutoClusters tool. This is one of the quicker tools to use to break through some brick walls.

If you choose Explore > Generate, you can generate an HTML report of the AutoClusters, the spreadsheet version of the AutoCluster analysis, and a Read Me file as outputs. These files (zipped) will be emailed to you as the account owner or manager.

Clustering tools pull your matches into groups of shared matches. Each group leads back to a most recent common ancestral couple (MRCA). 

Let’s look at my mom April’s clusters at MyHeritage DNA. 

There are several strategies to use to figure out the MRCA couple for each cluster. You can try one strategy of starting with the largest cluster (red). Or you could start with your highest sharing match and the cluster that match is in. 

If we look at the red cluster, there are 11 members. If you choose them in the chromosome browser, you can see that 7 matches triangulate on Chromosome 10. If you had the ability to choose all 11 matches in the chromosome browser, you would see 11 matches triangulating. 

Let’s make a table of this genetic network for these 11 matches. I use these columns—name, age, proposed relationship, shared cM with mom (yellow)/me (white), and any surnames in their trees. I use P for parents, G for grandparents, 1G, 2G, and so on to denote which level of surnames I find in the trees of the matches. 

If you would rather use the MyHeritage AutoCluster spreadsheet than make a table, you can add columns or information to track whatever data you need. Make sure you save the .csv file to .xlsx or another format before adding information or fixing the format.

When I look at these matches and surnames noted, I don’t recognize anyone in the list. Sometimes that happens, right? 

Finding unique DNA matches

Let’s try our second strategy of looking at mom’s largest shared match and exploring that cluster. Mom’s closest match is Colleen in her 80s. Another advantage of my mom transferring her raw DNA to MyHeritage becomes apparent: Colleen has not tested at any of the other DNA companies. Colleen does manage other kits at AncestryDNA, but they are more distant matches to my mom, likely Colleen’s children or grandchildren. The transfer fee to move my mom’s DNA to MyHeritage was definitely worth the cost

Transfer your DNA to MyHeritage

MyHeritage DNA estimates the relationship as 1C1R-2C with 305 cM of shared DNA. Colleen lists only 4 great-grandparents with surnames I don’t recognize, all from Canada and Michigan, and 4 unknown great-grandparents (likely my Ohio group). Remember, this is just a hypothesis. I might need to come back and think about it and revise my hypothesis later. Colleen is in the orange cluster, so let’s see what we can find out there.

This time I added my notes on the genealogical relationships to the MyHeritage DNA-generated spreadsheet. You might notice in the cluster column, I have shaded cluster 1 red and cluster 2 orange to help me track.

The advantage of using these clusters or genetic networks is that you are working with smaller groups of related matches. The goal is to connect them into one large tree, and ideally to figure out where you fit within that group. Once I start to notice that most of these matches lead back to Aaron Springer and Ruth Little, my mom’s third-great-grandparents and my fourth-great-grandparents, I’m excited to see how they might connect to one another.

I usually do this tree building on paper, but you can use Lucidchart or build a quick and speculative tree in your software or company site. 

I continue adding each match to my tree as I figure it out. Remember, this is a speculative tree based on my understanding of the family and each match’s understanding of their own family. 

If you know (or think you know) how the matches fit into your tree, go ahead and add them to your tree. If you aren’t sure where you fit into this genetic network, them perhaps try the WATO tool.

What might help you make progress is to capture a screenshot of the clusters and make a list of the surnames and couples you are looking to identify. Then as you do, label each cluster, and go back to work on widening your tree and pulling in those matches who may not have trees and the clusters you don’t recognize.

As we can see, April was able to discover a new cousin thanks to transferring her raw DNA to MyHeritage DNA. Her match Colleen only had her results at MyHeritage DNA!

Transfer your DNA to MyHeritage

After You Test or Transfer: Take the MyHeritage Tour with Your DNA Guide

Learn how to get the most out of your transfer/test at MyHeritage DNA with our MyHeritage DNA Tour with Your DNA Guide. Our tour includes lessons on navigating your DNA match list, exploring individual matches, and more!

Take the MyHeritage DNA Tour


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<a href="" target="_self">Kelli Jo Bergheimer</a>

Kelli Jo Bergheimer

Kelli Bergheimer is a writer, teacher, editor, and national genealogical speaker. Kelli is the Director of Curriculum and Assessment for Blue Kayak, a K-12 textbook company. Her passion for education reaches beyond the classroom to teach others how to use genetic genealogy to solve family history mysteries. Kelli also works as a DNA editor for Legacy Tree Genealogists.


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