Not All DNA Tests are the Same

Not All DNA Tests are the Same  Find more #genealogy and genetics blogs at #FamilyTree.comIt can be tempting to take a DNA test in order to discover what information might be hidden in your genes. Before you purchase a DNA direct-to-consumer test kit, be aware that not all DNA test are the same. There are several types to choose from and each reveals a certain kind of information. Take the time to familiarize yourself with the different types of DNA tests so you can pick the one that can give you the information you are seeking.

The Wall Street Journal has a very brief summary of what some of the different types of DNA tests are for. Their list is on the side of an article titled “Finding a Few Hundred Cousins”. It is a good place to start for a genealogist who has very little knowledge about the different kinds of DNA testing that is available.

Y-Chromosome DNA

This type of DNA test can help a genealogist learn more about their heritage on their father’s line. It can be used as a tool to trace one’s paternal ancestry.

This type of DNA test is available only to men, and with good reason. It focuses on the Y chromosome. (Women have two X chromosomes and no Y chromosomes). The Y chromosome is passed down from one generation of men to the next. Women who want to learn more about their paternal line can have a father, brother, or paternal uncle take the test.

Mitochondrial DNA

This type of DNA test can help a genealogist trace their matrilineal (or mother-line) ancestry. All mothers pass down their mitochondrial DNA to their children. This is true for both female and male children. Therefore, it is possible for both men and women to take a mitochondrial DNA test. This test can be used to trace migration routes of your ancestors.

Autosomal DNA

This type of DNA test can help a genealogist learn more about their ancestral lines. It can be used to shed light on a genealogists entire family tree. An autosomal DNA test can be taken by either men or women.

All of us inherit our autosomal DNA from our parents. Half come from our father, and the other half come from our mother. Chromosomes 1 – 22 are called autosomal. The last pair (the 23rd pair) determines gender.

Paternity Testing

There are two different types of paternity tests. The direct-to-consumer ones can be purchased in a pharmacy (but cannot be used in court). Legal paternity test kits can be used in court. The purpose of a paternity test is to determine whether or not a man is the biological father of a child.

This test may be useful for genealogists who are adopted. Adults who were adopted can seek out their birth parents. A paternity test can be the starting point for a family tree.

Image by Nina Jean on Flickr.

Related Articles at

* DNA Testing Kits That are Still Available to Genealogists

* What is the Genographic Project?

* Why Mitochondrial DNA is Important to Genealogists

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May 17 – 23, 2015 | Stuff Jen Wrote 18/05/15

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