Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy
You might already be familiar with how DNA testing can help solve crimes, confirm the paternity of children, and even determine the identity of ancient mummies.
Now DNA can also help you with your Family Tree research. It’s a simple and painless process to gather your DNA sample.
Within a few weeks, you can have results that you can compare with the ever-expanding AncestryDNA database to find potential genetic cousins.
There are three different types of DNA tests, and each are used for specific types of research. These include Y-DNA testing, mtDNA testing, and Autosomal DNA testing.
Finding Genetic Cousins
By comparing your AncestryDNA test results with others, you can determine to what extent you are related.
For example, the more closely your result set matches another’s, the narrower the range of generations between the two of you and your common ancestor.
This can help you move past difficulties and brick walls in your genealogy research.
Discover Ancient Ancestry
In addition to finding genetic cousins, your DNA test can also reveal your ancient origins. Beginning over 170,000 years ago, our ancestors migrated out of Africa and began their slow and steady spread across the continents.
Over time, as these ancestors spread throughout the world and adapted to their new surroundings and environments, their DNA diversified and they became genetically distinct from one another.
Today, these differences can be traced through DNA and provide insights on how your ancient ancestors migrated and diversified into distinct populations.
DNA testing for Ethnicity
If you are looking to discover or confirm ethnicity, a DNA test can help you with this information. Many have found information that has helped them research their Native American, African American, or Jewish genealogy.
DNA And Family Trees
All humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes, including a pair of sex chromosomes, known as “X” and “Y”.
Males have both an X- and a Y-chromosome (with the Y-chromosome inherited from the father) while females have two X-chromosomes (one X-chromosome inherited from each parent.)
Genetic Genealogy is interested in heritage markers or the area of the chromosome which reveals family relatedness.
Father to Son
Because the Y-chromosome is passed essentially unchanged from father-to-son, it provides genetic genealogists with a powerful tool for tracing a paternal lineage.
Specific portions of the Y-chromosome are analyzed and compared against other participants’ Y results to determine the relatedness between the two participants.
Mother To Child
Since both parents contribute X-chromosomes to their daughters, a different source of DNA must be used to trace the maternal line.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is inherited by both male and female children exclusively from their mothers and provides insight into one’s maternal lineage. (Learn more about mitochondrial DNA.)