Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro, Part 10 — Import GEDmatch Triangulations

Scroll down for links to other posts in this series.

And now for the GEDmatch import we’ve all been waiting for:  Triangulations!

Segment triangulation is a technique grounded in the fact that we have two copies of each autosomal chromosome: one inherited from our mother and one from our father.  (Women also have two copies of the X chromosome, while men have only one.)

Because each autosomal chromosome has a so-called “homologous” copy (meaning “same general features or make-up”), two people could match me at the “same” spot in the genome yet not match one another, because one is related on my maternal side and one on my paternal. The graphic below illustrates what I mean:  my maternal chromosome is in red, my paternal in blue, and the two matches in grey, because I’m not sure yet on which side they are.

Triangulation involves comparing the two (or more) other matches directly to one another.  If they match each other, they are both related on the same side of my family (i.e., either through my mother or my father), like so:

And if they do not match one another, each is related to me through a different parent.


The data in the triangulation import allows us to tell the difference (even if you don’t have parents tested).  This import (and others like it) are what make GMP so powerful.

I recommend using the Chrome internet browser for GEDmatch imports.

Run the Tier 1 Triangulation Report at GEDmatch

  1. Log into GEDmatch using your internet browser, and click on the link to the Tier 1 Triangulation tool.
  2. Enter the GEDmatch kit number, set the Upper Segment Threshold Limit to “No Limit”, and select the radio button beside “Show results sorted by chromosome, segment start position”.
  3. Click the TRIANGULATE button. This will take a while.  As the search progresses, you will see a growing string of asterisks.  Do not close this browser window or let your computer go to sleep while the triangulation search is running.  You should be able to work in other windows while the search is running.
  4. When the report is done, you will see a big table of results. Select and copy everything on the page (control-a then control-c on a PC; command-a then command-c on a Mac).


Import GEDmatch Triangulation Results into GMP

  1. Open GMP and back up your database (File > Backup Database).
  2. Go to the Chromosomes tab. Using the Import Data menu, select “From GedMatch Tier 1”, then “2: Triangulation”.
  3. Click OK to dismiss the pop-up with instructions.
  4. In the next window, click the PASTE button then the IMPORT button.
  5. When the import is done, glance at the pop-up summary to see how many triangulations were added, then click the CLOSE button.
  6. Look at the Chromosomes tab again. Does anything look different? Nope. But something really important has happened!


Working with Triangulations

  1. In the Chromosomes tab, pick a close-ish relative and right-click on their name. I’ll use Cousin Bryan (because I always use Cousin Bryan!)
  2. Wait!  What’s this? Holy smokes! There’s an entire slew of options there!  Turns out a lot of the “good stuff” in GMP is lurking beneath the right-click button of your mouse. This makes powerful tools available with a single click without cluttering up the interface. You will find these right-click features available throughout GMP. (Go ahead, try it!)
  3. Select “Show Overlapping DNA Segments”. This will filter your view to only show matches with segments that overlap the one you selected.
  4. Overlapping doesn’t necessarily mean triangulating, as described in the opening paragraphs of this post. Unless the two (or more) matches also match one another, we can’t be sure that they’re related to us on the same side.
  5. Right-click on your close-ish relative again, but this time select “Show Possible Triangulations”.
    The number of matches shown has probably gotten smaller. In fact, toggle back and forth between “Show Overlapping DNA Segments” and “Show Possible Triangulations” to compare.
  6. Hit the Escape (esc) button to remove the filtering and see all of your matches on that chromosome again.
  7. If you’ve tested one or both of your parents, you can quickly assign all of your matches on this chromosome to a side using the right-click options.  First, make sure the segment shared with your parent has the appropriate designation (M or P) in the “Side” field.
  8. Right-click on that parent and select “Show Possible Triangulations” to filter the visible segments.
  9. Right-click again on that parent and select “Mark shown DNA segments”.
    Now, all of those filtered segments should be marked to that side (M or P).
  10. But wait! There’s more! Rather than filtering the visible segments and going chromosome by chromosome, you can right-click on a parent and instead select “Mark All Unknown DNA Segments Triangulated With”.
    Now, switch to a different chromosome.  You should see that GMP has assigned  sides to segments on all of your chromosomes based on triangulation to that parent. (NOTE: GMP sometimes skips segments it should be able to assign … I’m not sure why.)
  11. If you’ve tested both parents, do the same thing with the other one: make sure the “Side” is designated for that parent, then right-click and select “Mark All Unknown DNA Segments Triangulated With”.
  12. Once you’ve done your parent(s), you can similarly assign segments using more distant relatives. For example, with just a few clicks, I can find segments that triangulate with Cousin Bryan (“Show Possible Triangulations”) and assign them to a group name (“Mark Shown DNA Segments”). For example, I could use the MRCA names “Sid and Julia”; the village they were from, “Patoutville”; or whatever strikes my fancy. The exception will be matching segments that have already been assigned to an MRCA in the RELATIVE DETAIL tab. In the screenshot below, Mary was not assigned to “Patoutville” because her segment had previously been assigned to an MRCA (indicated by the fact that her name is in bold).
  13. Continue to explore “Side” and “Group” assignments on your own.


Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro Series


15 thoughts on “Getting Started with Genome Mate Pro, Part 10 — Import GEDmatch Triangulations”

  1. Thanks so much for putting this online. Couple of questions:
    1) can you use the triangulation if you didn’t have parents or siblings tested?
    2) I appear to have duplicates in my chromosome tab and they are indicated with a pink highlight. How do I correct that or do I ignore?

    1. As long as you import the Triangulations data from GEDmatch, you’ll be able to triangulate among your matches. The pink highlight is for the match that you currently have open in the Relative Detail tab. Don’t worry about duplicates yet. We’ll learn how to merge them after the FTDNA imports.

  2. I spent a good part of the day working on part 10. I am really enjoying your series on GMP. I had put off trying to work with it and now I’m beginning to understand a little bit of how powerful a tool it can be.
    I am not understanding the group concept. Why do you group matches and how you determine who belongs in a group or what group, etc. Can you provide some more info on groups?

    1. Groups are entirely up to you. You can make groups for each of your grandparents or great grandparents, for specific geographic regions or ethnicities, or whatever else you want. You can also just ignore them and not use them at all if you prefer.

  3. Thank you for these lessons — they are perfect!

    Re triangulation groups: if there is a known cousin (and their side/group) in a triangulated group, can it be assumed that all the group members are then from that side/group? Or is that a bridge too far? I have only two known cousins on GEDmatch, along with my sister and kids, so I have a tiny reference population.

    Thanks much!

    1. Yes, in most cases if a known cousin is in the triangulation group, everyone in that group will share that segment with you via the same MRCA. One exception is when there’s endogamy, in which case segment inheritance pathways aren’t so much linear as intertwining.

      1. Thanks for the really quick reply!
        One more question for you: can we reassign colors for segments? Both my first paternal and maternal segments were auto assigned the same green/blue, which is confusing.

  4. I have 3 profiles, loaded – myself, my brother, and a 2nd cousin. Both my and my cousins chromosomes are normal, but my brother’s only shows his triangulations. I have clicked ESC which doesn’t work. I have gone back and forth through several pages, but every time I go back to Chromosomes, only his triangulations show up for each chromosome. What have I done?

    Any ideas what to do?


    1. I’m not sure what you mean when you say that only his triangulations are showing. For more rapid assistance, I suggest you join the “Genome Mate Pro” Facebook group, where you can post screenshots. I’m a member there, and there are also several other people with the expertise to help you.

  5. Hi there, your tutorials have been super helpful and I can’t wait for the rest to come out! Can you tell us when you will be posting Part 12? I got subscription to DNAGedcom about a month ago when I did Part 11 and not sure if I should cancel for the time being? Any info you can provide would be super helpful!

    Thank you!!

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