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National Geographic Geno 2.0 DNA Ancestry Review

The National Geographic Geno 2.0 test connects your genome to the past through an in-depth exploration of your geographical ancestry in three time periods.

Our Verdict

The National Geographic Geno 2.0 test is the best kit for connecting your genes to history.


  • Then Geno 2.0 test results give you ample historical context for each of your ancestry results.


  • You can’t download your Raw DNA to upload to other services.
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The National Geographic Geno 2.0 test connects your genome to the past through an in-depth exploration of your geographical ancestry in three time periods. It tests your autosomal and mitochondrial DNA, as well as Y-DNA, for insights into your regional ancestry, ancient ancestry and Hominin ancestry. This test is a great DNA service for personal connections to history, but it does not offer family matching or comparison features that many other DNA ancestry test provide. Still, if you want more personal context rather than genealogical information, the Geno 2.0 test is thorough and educational.

Geno 2.0 is part of the Helix marketplace. You receive a Helix saliva sample collection kit in a National Geographic-branded sleeve. Testers thought the Helix kit was the easiest to use and register, as it had clear step-by-step instructions. Helix sequences your DNA using exome sequencing, which is a different technology than companies like AncestryDNA and 23andMe use. Your DNA information then runs through the National Geographic database for your Geno 2.0 results. The relationship between Helix and National Geographic has both pros and cons. On the positive side, Helix’s exome sequencing is a newer technology than genotyping, and Helix partners with several other DNA testing companies, so you can run your info through other databases without submitting additional samples. On the negative side, you cannot download your Raw DNA to upload to another database, and running additional Helix tests gets expensive quickly, as each one costs $10 - $260.

After dropping our samples in the mail, testers received email communication from Helix within 24 days that DNA sequencing was completed. It took another three days to receive results from National Geographic. Logging into the Geno 2.0 site to view results, you’re met first with a paragraph briefly outlining DNA testing for ancestry with the option to expand the explanation of the science behind your results. Next is the Genius Matches feature, which connects you to historical figures using mitochondrial and Y-DNA. Your ancestry report - a map with allocates a certain percentage of your DNA to different geographical regions - comes third. Your Regional Ancestry report covers the time period from 500 - 10,000 years ago. It breaks your genetic makeup into several regions, which you can view at the regional and continental level. The actual map graphic isn’t the best, especially compared to more interactive sites like AncestryDNA, but it serves its purpose. It does give a lot of information about each of your matched regions. Additionally, it matches your genetic makeup to two current-day reference populations. My own test matched my DNA segments to the Northeastern Asia and South China Sea regions, with my overall genetic makeup matching the Korean and Japanese reference populations. Another tester’s DNA was placed in to six regions: Northwestern Europe, Southwestern Europe, Eastern Europe, Western Africa, Northeastern Europe and Jewish Diaspora, with her overall genetic composition matching the French and British (England) reference populations.

Beyond mapping out your geographical ancestry, the Geno 2.0 test also follows your parental haplogroups in its Deep Ancestry report. These results stem from your mitochondrial DNA for your maternal line and Y-DNA for the paternal line. Because these types of DNA are passed down directly with few mutations, your direct line traces back thousands of years, up to 100,000, according to the report. National Geographic also offers a Hominin Ancestry report, which tells you how much Neanderthal DNA you have.

The National Geographic DNA database has over 950,000 participants, which is smaller than both 23andMe and AncestryDNA’s databases. Still, when compared side-by-side, testers thought geographical ancestry reports were comparable, and a few preferred the more information-laden reports from Geno 2.0. The National Geographic DNA test does not have a relative matching feature, nor does it cater to genealogical researchers. The Geno 2.0 experience is far more self-centered than that of other tests, which makes it the perfect option for those wanting more personal insights as opposed to family history.

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