Wednesday, 14 March 2012

What is Omnipop?

Many clients have asked us about the use of autosomal STRs with a 3rd party developed program called Omnipop.  However, Brian Burritt, the creator of OmniPop, has indicated that he had created OmniPop with no specific use in mind.  Furthermore, he has indicated that he does not use OmniPop to do biogeograhical origin searches himself and would not be able to speak on the issues in detail.  We have reviewed Omnipop and feel that Omnipop is not an ideal program for ancestral analysis and can provide misleading information.  As such, we have not placed Omnipop as an interactive program on our site.  If you are interested in using Autosomal DNA for family comparisons and family searches, we have built an independent database called DNA Reunion for comparison purposes.  Read more about the most popular applications for Autosomal DNA at 
our Autosomal DNA tutorial.

If you are thinking about using Autosomal DNA with Omnipop, we have done some basic research into the Omnipop spreadsheet and provide an outline here with our overview and comments about this third party application.

Omnipop is a spreadsheet developed by a third party that has become increasingly popular with genealogists.  Omnipop is a 3rd party program and it is not in any way affiliated with Genebase or Genetrack, nor does Genebase or Genetrack endorse the use of Omnipop for ancestral analysis.  Please note that participants are welcome to use their autosomal DNA marker results in any 3rd party developed database that they wish, but any questions pertaining to 3rd party programs that are not endorsed by Genebase must be addressed directly to the developers of the program.  Genebase does not provide technical or interpretative support for analysis performed by 3rd party programs such as Omnipop.  3rd party programs which are not endorsed by Genebase are to be used at the risk of the client. 

The History of Omnipop

The OmniPop spreadsheet was developed by Brian Burritt (from the San Diego Police Department) and consists of a survey of the distribution frequencies of autosomal STR markers in different populations.  As of August 27, 2008, the Omnipop spreadsheet calculated based upon population data from 219 publications. 

How Omnipop works

OmniPop is an Excel spreadsheet.  To use it, clients download the free Omnipop spreadsheet and then manually type their Autosomal STR marker results directly into the spreadsheet and the spreadsheet automatically predicts the individual's most likely ethnicity by comparing the STR results to allele frequencies from published data.

Omnipop specifications

Omnipop is a 1.7MB macro-enabled Excel file that is open to the public and free to download.

A list of populations found in the database and corresponding references can be found at the NIST website.

OmniPop version 150.4.2 can be downloaded for free from the following link:

While the Omnipop program may provide some limited information, ancestry is not its main purpose and we caution against taking the results out of context.  Thus, it could be misleading if one is using the program to search for ethnic origins.

To learn about Autosomal DNA and its most popular applications, we recommend reading the Autosomal DNA tutorial

What is Omnipop?. Genebase Tutorials. Retrieved March 14, 2012, from 

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