With recent advances in technology and also the increasing interest in tracing one’s ancestry, DNA testing for genealogy analysis has now become reasonable and easily accessible for anyone with a pc and a mailbox. While it’s important to do your research and make sure you are dealing with a reputable company, DNA testing kits for genealogy analysis are obtainable on-line at a variety of websites and all you have to do is mail the kit in and watch for your results.
Although DNA testing kits for genealogy research are now available to members of the public, before ordering it’s best to see just what type of kit you are going to need. And to do that you need to know precisely what results you’re looking for. There are 2 basic types of DNA testing kits available and each is used for a completely different reason.
mtDNA Tests – mtDNA tests are used to test the Mitochondrial DNA that’s passed from the mother to both the male and female children. Mitochondrial DNA does not mix with other cells so it is simple to determine that your mtDNA is the same as your mother’s, and your mother’s mtDNA is the same as her mother’s. This test is best used to determine the fact your you’re related to someone, as opposed to just how closely related because mitochondrial DNA changes very slowly from one generation to the next. For instance, testing mtDNA will tell you if 2 individuals are members of the same family but it cannot be used to tell you if you are brother and sister, grandfather and grandchild, etc.
If two individuals have an exact match in their mtDNA then there is a good probability they have a maternal ancestor in common but it’s hard to determine if a recent ancestor or one who lived hundreds of years ago. So an mtDNA test may be used to determine if your family is descended from George Washington. However this test will not be able to tell you if George Washington was your grandfather.
Y Line Tests – The Y Chromosomal Test, sometimes referred to as the Y Line test, is only available for males since the Y chromosome is passed down the male line from father to son. Chemical markers on the Y chromosome create haplotypes, distinctive patterns that can be used to determine the genetic association between one male and another. This test is generally used by people who have the same last name to determine if the have a common ancestor. So your family could use this test to determine if the males were descended from George Washington – assuming you could also get a sample of George Washington’s DNA.
Neither of these tests can be used to collect health information or information about a predisposition to a particular disease. Nor will they allow you to create any kind of identifying personal genetic fingerprint. Rather, in most DNA testing for genealogy these tests are used to determine the line of descent and to substantiate a relationship between one family and another.