Ancestry Research Dna Testing

DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) is a molecule that contains all of the genetic information necessary for producing an individual, including the hair, the heart, eyes, etc. All of the body’s cells carry DNA, and every human being has a distinct DNA structure. An individual inherits his unique DNA structure from his parents. As a result, DNA testing can confirm whether or not two people are related, helping some reconstruct their ancestry.

For those who don’t have contact with their parents or extended families, finding out about their ancestries can help them understand more about who they are. Similarly, knowing about your relatives is an important part of being able to properly take care of yourself, as your genetic makeup can predispose you to certain diseases and/or conditions.

As a result, getting DNA testing can be an important way for people to reconstruct their genetic relations and research their ancestries.

Types of DNA Tests

When undergoing DNA testing, you have a choice between two different types of DNA tests:

  • mtDNA tests: This type of DNA test examines the mitochondrial DNA a person inherits from his mother. Because mtDNA doesn’t change dramatically as it is passed from a mother to her children, a group of related people will have nearly identical mtDNA strands. Consequently, these DNA tests are ideal for determining if two people have a maternal ancestor in common. However, due to the slow-changing nature of mtDNA, the results of this type of DNA test can’t determine whether or not the common maternal ancestor is a recent relative or one that lived decades ago.
  • Y line DNA tests: To determine male lineage, the Y line DNA test compares certain patterns, called haplotypes, on the Y chromosome. If two men have the same haplotypes, then they are related. However, this test can’t determine how the men are related. In most cases, people with the same last names use Y line DNA tests to see if they are related, making this type of DNA test helpful in researching ancestry.

In summary, the results of DNA tests can:

  • determine if two people share a common relative
  • identify a person’s ethnic roots
  • reveal that two people are related to each other.

Where to Get DNA Tests

While traditionally doctors took DNA samples and sent them to labs for testing, today, you can get home DNA test kits from your local pharmacy, your doctor or online DNA testing services. To use these kits, you generally have to swab your inner cheek, as well as the inner cheek of the other person taking the test, in order to gather DNA samples from each of you.

Once you have obtained both DNA samples, you then send them to the lab (whose address will be specified on the instructions) for testing. Within a month, the lab will mail you back the results of your test. The results typically come as a set of numbers for you and a set for the other person being tested.

By comparing these numbers according to the directions the lab sends you, you can determine whether or not the two of you are related.

The cost of home DNA test kits will depend on the brand you select. In general, however, these tests range in cost from about $150 to $400. The cost includes the initial cost of the kit and the lab fees.

Resources

Powell, Kimberly (n.d.). DNA Family Tree. Retrieved January 9, 2008 from the About.com Website: http://genealogy.about.com/cs/geneticgenealogy/a/dna_tests.htm.