Many people today are becoming curious about their genetic ancestry. DNA testing has become a useful tool in identifying and finding ancestors. DNA tests have been around for many years but it is only recently that the cost of genetic testing has finally come down into the realm of possibility for the average individual interested in tracing their roots.
If you’re planning to do a DNA ancestry test, home DNA test kits can be ordered over the internet at a cost averaging $100-$400 per test. They usually consist of a cheek swab or mouthwash to easily collect a sample of cells from the inside of your mouth. You send back the sample through the mail and within a month or two you receive the results — a series of numbers that represent key chemical “markers” within your DNA. These numbers can then be compared to results from other individuals to help you determine your ancestry. But there are many types of DNA testing and more than one way to get tested. Making the right choice is critical, especially when the results need to hold up in court.
There are two basic types of DNA tests available for genealogical testing, the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) and Y-Chromosome (Y-DNA).
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the DNA found in the mitochondria organelles of cells which is located in the cytoplasm (substance between the nucleus and outer membrane). This type of DNA is carried by both males and females but is only inherited through the mother. An mtDNA test traces a person’s matrilineal or mother-line ancestry using the DNA in his or her mitochondria. mtDNA is passed down by the mother unchanged to all children with no influence from any males along that line. Both males and females can test their mtDNA to determine the origin of their maternal line. However, because mtDNA mutations are very rare, it cannot determine close relationships as well as it can determine general relatedness. If two people have an exact match in their mtDNA, then there is a very good chance they share a common maternal ancestor, but it is hard to determine if this is a recent ancestor or one who lived hundreds of years ago. It is important to keep in mind with this test that a male’s mtDNA comes only from his mother and is not passed on to his offspring.
Y chromosomal DNA (Y-DNA) is a type of DNA that is only available for males and carried by males, since the Y chromosome is only passed down the male line from father to son. Tiny chemical markers on the Y chromosome create a distinctive pattern, known as a haplotype that distinguishes one male lineage from another. Shared markers can indicate relatedness between two males, though not the exact degree of the relationship. Y chromosome testing is most often used by individuals with the same last name to learn if they share a common ancestor. Males who share a common paternal ancestor will have almost the same Y-DNA, even if that male ancestor lived many generations ago.
Markers on both mtDNA and Y-DNA tests can also be used to determine an individual’s haplogroup. A haplogroup is a genetic population group of people who share a common ancestor on the direct paternal or maternal line. This test may provide you with interesting information about the deep ancestral lineage of your paternal and/or maternal lines.
TestCountry offers cost-effective ancestry DNA test kits that use 16 genetic marker analyses and are accredited by the AABB as a Parentage Testing laboratory. It also provides the most precise and comprehensive ancestry analysis with just the use of a saliva specimen. Tests provide both maternal and paternal ancestry information, so you can learn where your ancestors originated and how they migrated across the continents over time or know the secrets of your genetics that may potentially cause you to be susceptible to serious diseases.