Quick Guide to DNA Testing
There are three DNA tests that are useful to family history and genealogy researchers – Y-DNA, mtDNA, and autosomal. Below is a brief description of each and our recommendations.
- Y-DNA Test – only available to males; tests only direct male lines.The “Y” in Y-DNA refers to the Y-chromosome. A father passes his Y-chromsome only to his sons and not his daughters. Therefore, the Y-DNA is useful for analyzing only direct male lines father to son to son, etc. To use Y-DNA, you must have an unbroken male line back to the ancestor you are investigating, i.e., no female breaks.
Your best choice for a Y-DNA kit is to order it from the company Family Tree DNA. Their website: https://www.familytreedna.com/
We recommend the 37 marker Y-DNA test to start. Cost is $169. If later you wish to upgrade to 67 markers, it’s easy – just pay the $99 upgrade fee.
After you have paid your money, they will ship you a kit in the mail. You follow the instructions on how to scrape the inside of your cheek with a small toothbrush-like swab and place the swab’s head in a tiny bottle and ship it back to FTDNA. They will email you the results. Be warned that it may take up to six weeks for the results.
- mtDNA Test – available to both males and females; tests direct female lines.The mtDNA test is available from the companies Family Tree DNA and 23andME at a cost of about $160. However, mtDNA testing is of limited use for family history researchers. Scientists, especially anthropologists, use mtDNA to trace the migration patterns of people over thousands of years.
- Autosomal Test – available to both males and females; Family Tree DNA’s “Family Finder”, Ancestry.com’s “AncestryDNA,” and 23andMe’s “Relative Finder.”
The three companies Family TreeDNA, Ancestry.com, and 23andME provide an autosomal test (about $99). This test provides analysis of a person’s ethnic percentages and connects them with relatives descended from any of their ancestral lines from approximately the most recent five or six generations. This test uses autosomal DNA (inherited from both of your parents, your four grandparents, your eight great-grandparents, etc.). It offers the opportunity to discover recent genetic cousins (up to fifth cousins) on both your mother’s and father’s sides of your family.
If you need help analyzing your DNA test results or have questions, please feel free to contact Dan C. Hyde at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A recent activity of the Hyde Genealogy Association is to investigate the use of Y-DNA testing for genealogical research including tying several family lines together. To have our DNA tested, most of us have used AncestryDNA or Family Tree DNA.
Family Tree DNA has a web site for The Hyde DNA Project at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Hyde/
The Y-DNA results of the Hyde DNA Project are available at http://www.familytreedna.com/public/Hyde/default.aspx?section=yresults
Dan Hyde’s talk on “Using DNA Testing for Genealogy”