Did you ever wonder where your ancestors came from or how they traveled? You can learn more about you and your ancestors through sophisticated genealogical DNA testing.
We inherit our DNA from our parents and our ancestors. Genealogy genetic ancestry tests are useful in discovering more about our ethnic heritage, health traits, and ancestors. Most tests given are for Y-DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and autosomal DNA. There are now 5 major DNA companies that are performing genealogical DNA testing.
Table of Contents
- What is DNA?
- How Does DNA for Genealogy Work?
- What are Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Autosomal DNA?
- What Will My DNA Genealogy Test Results tell Me?
- Why Do Some Siblings Have Different DNA Results?
- How Accurate Is DNA Testing For Learning Your Ancestry?
- What DNA Test Should I Consider To Buy?
- Related Questions
To know understand what genealogical DNA tests to buy you need to first understand DNA and how DNA can help you in your search for your ancestors.
What is DNA?
DNA is short for deoxyribonucleic acid. DNA is the molecule that contains the genetic code for living organisms, including humans, animals, plants, bacteria, protists, and archaea.
In humans, children inherit their DNA from their parents. This is why children will share skin, hair, and eye color traits with their parents. A person’s DNA is a combination of DNA from both of their parents and their parent’s ancestors.
No matter how much we may want to change our genetic makeup, it is something we cannot change. This is because our DNA genetic makeup is unique to each of us.
How Does DNA for Genealogy Work?
Genealogy genetic ancestry tests are very useful in finding out your ethnic heritage. This is because most genetic genealogy ancestry tests will pull from a chunk of DNA to compare results. They will compare the DNA from around the world to give you the most closely related ethnicity match. This also means that companies with the largest database will give you the best DNA ethnicity results.
In a real sense, each of us is made up of the total DNA of not just our parents but also their parents, our great-grandparents, etc. The chain of this DNA goes back. And where our ancestors lived during their lifetime will show on the DNA we have in our very own DNA. We have part of our ancestors’ DNA running through our bodies.
This is why DNA for genealogy is so interesting and an exciting way to determine our ethnicity. In a sense, we are much more like our ancestors than we may realize or know.
What are Y-DNA, Mitochondrial DNA, and Autosomal DNA?
In DNA testing for ethnicity and genealogy, you will hear that there are different kinds of DNA testing. The different kinds of DNA tests include Y-DNA, mitochondrial, and autosomal DNA testing.
Some differences between each type of DNA tests
A Y-DNA test is a Y chromosome DNA test. This genealogical test explores a man’s patrilineal or his direct father’s line of ancestry. This DNA testing is only for men. But the advantage is that men can find their MRCA, also known as the most recent common ancestor. It also uncovers your male haplogroups.
Mitochondrial DNA Test
A mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA) test will trace a person’s matrilineal or the line of their mother. Since this DNA test is a DNA that will pass from the mother to the children, it is a test that both men and women can take. This DNA test will reveal the female haplogroups.
Autosomal DNA Test
Autosomal DNA tests trace an individual’s autosomal chromosomes. The autosomal DNA chromosome is the DNA that a person shares with everyone to whom they are related both maternally and paternally, either directly or indirectly.
Autosomal DNA genealogy tests are the most popular and most widely used DNA tests for genealogy. The reason is that this test is for everyone you are related to, both maternally or paternally; you can usually obtain the most data from the autosomal test.
What Will My DNA Genealogy Test Results tell Me?
Your DNA genealogy results will generally include the following:
- Genetic ethnicity estimates – The DNA genealogy test results will estimate your ethnicity. It may, for example, tell you that is 49% English and 51% Scandinavian.
- Potential DNA Genetic matches – If you choose to see your matches, your DNA Genealogy test can show you potential DNA matches. This is where things can get interesting for DNA Genealogical research. You can start to find some 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th cousins you did not know about. You can also find this for those who have taken the same DNA test you did and agreed to allow others to view their DNA matches.
Why Do Some Siblings Have Different DNA Results?
Two siblings who share the same parents can have different DNA genealogical results. This is because DNA is not passed down from generation to generation in the same amount to each individual. Not every child will get the same 50% of mom’s DNA or 50% of dad’s DNA.
This is called recombination. This means that siblings, on average, share of about 50% of the same DNA. Biological siblings may have the same family tree, but their genetic code may differ in certain areas on a DNA test. This can even be true of fraternal twins.
How Accurate Is DNA Testing For Learning Your Ancestry?
On average, the accuracy of your DNA genealogy test is over 90%. Some companies claim 99% accuracy (Ancestry.com) With the use of technology, there is more data to draw from for the tests, and the more data, the more accurate the DNA tests will continue to get.
In some of the areas where they are not sure of how you are related to a person, most tests will mark it down as a “close relative.” So this is why most genealogists will look at DNA testing as a tool to help them to find their ancestors but will work also with the actual research and data to back up what the data on the DNA test is telling them.
What DNA Test Should I Consider To Buy?
There are so many DNA tests out there in the market, it can be hard to know what DNA test to buy. During the last few years, genealogy DNA tests have become very popular. This is very good for everyone as the more people who take a DNA test, the more data they will be for the genealogy DNA companies to use to get more accurate testing results.
Here are the 5 major Genealogy DNA testing companies and what they offer:
Ancestry offers autosomal DNA and does not offer Y-DNA or mitochondrial DNA testing. But for most people looking for DNA testing for their genealogy research or ethnicity doing an autosomal DNA test is what they need.
Ancestry has been in business for a long time, allowing them to be a leader in genealogy DNA testing. They also have genealogical research and records. Their program has a family tree so you can get a DNA test and also do genealogical research with the Ancestry program.
The Ancestry DNA reports include 30 significant regions and ethnicities. Recently Ancestry has added an Ancestry health that can give you a snapshot of your and your ancestor’s health.
You can find out more about Ancestry and their tests by clicking on this link.
CRI Genetics is owned by genetic scientist that has a reputation for leading research in genetic sciences. They can provide you with details of your family up to 1000 + years. They can tell you not only where your ancestors came from but when they arrived at a new location.
CRI Genetics can do autosomal DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA testing, and Y-DNA testing. We have been told that sometimes their Mitochondrial and Y-DNA testing is not available or is delayed so you may want to check this before doing these tests.
This is a great test to get if you are not just looking for your genealogy or ethnicity and want other information. Their reports will show you things such as ancestry, health, allergies, nutrition, vitamins, and other health traits, such as a tendency to get earwax. (Which I do, by the way, and now I know I can blame it on my DNA).
They cover various ancestry from Jewish, European, Asian, and African. This is a test worth looking at for your genealogy and ethnicity DNA. You can find out more by clicking here.
23andMe is another major player in the ancestry and DNA market. They do testing on autosomal DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA testing, and Y-DNA testing. They are said to have one of the most detailed and accurate of all DNA testing companies.
They offer two kinds of testing, one is just ancestry and traits, and the others are ancestry, traits, and health. If you are new to genealogy, they also have an automatic tree builder attached to their DNA test. You can find out more about 23andMe by clicking here.
Family Tree DNA will give you your autosomal DNA testing, mitochondrial DNA testing, and Y-DNA testing. They have quite an interesting interactive map showing how and where your ancestors traveled on your maternal (mitochondrial DNA ) and paternal (Y-DNA).
This can give you insight into where and how to look for your ancestors in your genealogical research. They also have a project working together with National Geographics. You can find out more about their DNA testing by clicking here.
My Heritage says they support over 42 ethnicities, more than any other major DNA testing service provider. If you are unsure if your family came from a relatively small ethnicity, this may be a very good option for you as they have quite large data, including some of the smaller ethnicities.
Like many other DNA tests, they will also give you some of your genetic health risks like heart disease, breast cancer, or Alzheimer’s disease.
My Heritage has a large database; you can use their program to keep track of your genealogy information. You can find out more about My Heritage DNA tests by clicking here.
Genealogical DNA testing is a wonderful way to discover things about yourself and your ancestors, ethnicity, and heritage. It can be a wonderful tool for you to use in genealogical and family history research.
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Why Knowing Your Ancestor’s Homeland Is Important in Genealogy Travel?
Research about your ancestor’s homeland is essential to any of your genealogical travel. Before you travel, you must research your ancestor’s hometown before your travel to that location. If you are unsure where to look, consider getting a DNA test to help guide you.
You can learn more about finding your ancestor’s homeland before your travel to discover your family history by reading our blog Genealogy Travel: Why Knowing Your Ancestor’s Homeland Is Important by clicking here.
How Can I Find My Family History For Free?
FamilySearch is an entirely free genealogy program filled with many great family history data that you can access and sign up for free. This program has many great features, but one of its best features is that it is a collaborative program, so you can see the research others are doing. FamilySearch also has a lot of free data, so it is very easy to use their search tools to find your family history and information.