Maternal Dna Testing Mother Genetic Test

Ancestry DNA testing is a great way to find out about your geographic origins and possible relatives. One popular method of testing explores maternal ancestry by analyzing mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA. Here are some basic facts about mitochondrial DNA:

  • All our cells carry mitochondria, which produce the energy we need for movement. Both men and women have mtDNA.
  • Mitochondrial DNA is only passed on from mothers to children and is received from the mother’s egg cell. Sperm cells do not contribute mtDNA to a child.
  • Most other DNA is found in the nucleus of the cell, and contains genetic information from both the mother and father. Mitochondrial DNA is non-nuclear.
  • Nuclear DNA can only be obtained from soft tissue. However, mtDNA can be found in bones, hair and teeth. This makes it possible to test maternal DNA in the remains of those who lived many generations ago.

Mitochondrial Eve

Mitochondrial DNA can trace an unbroken genetic line all the way back to a common maternal ancestor of all living humans, known as “Mitochondrial Eve”. According to scientists, Mitochondrial Eve lived in east Africa about 150,000-200,000 years ago. Some of Eve’s descendants became the maternal ancestors of several clans from various parts of the world.

Each of these early clans can be defined by particular DNA sequences, or markers. Markers are genetic patterns which change gradually over many generations through random mutations. As our ancestors migrated, their DNA diversified into several distinct genetic marker patterns. These patterns are called haplogroups. Since DNA changes so slowly, scientists have been able to reconstruct approximately when and where many of our maternal ancestors lived.

How to Test Maternal DNA

Maternal DNA testing is done by using a swab inside the cheek to collect DNA. This can be done by visiting a DNA lab, or purchasing a DNA testing kit online. If you use a test kit, you will have to mail your sample back to the lab. In either case, your DNA will be compared with samples from DNA databases to discover clues about your maternal ancestry.

Understanding Your Results

You can learn a great deal from the results of maternal ancestry DNA testing. With some agencies, you will even receive a map that charts the migration of your maternal ancestors from their original locations to their present ones. The results will also show your possible relationship to other females. Mitochondrial DNA testing cannot tell you the exact nature of relationship between two individuals, or whether a common ancestor lived recently or hundreds of years ago.

If one of your relatives has contributed mtDNA to a DNA database, it can be very helpful in tracing a matrilineal line. One example of this is the Romanovs, whose bodies were only able to be identified because they shared mtDNA with the UK?s Prince Philip, via Queen Victoria.

Tracing Your Maternal Roots

Mitochondrial DNA testing is one of many useful tools for tracing maternal ancestry. Here are some other ways to research your maternal family history:

  • Access public records and archives for your family’s birth, death and marriage certificates.
  • Interview relatives to learn any information they know about your ancestors.
  • Record and organize all the information you collect by creating a genealogical chart
  • Utilize family tree services, which can help you gather additional information about your family.


Ehow Staff. (2008). How to trace maternal ancestry as a mother’s day gift. Retrieved September 11, 2008, from the Web site:

Oxford Ancestors. (2005). Maternal ancestry. Retrieved September 11, 2008, from the Web site: