I get a lot of questions concerning the usefulness of DNA testing, so starting this week we’ll begin a series focused on the top five benefits (listed at the bottom) of having your DNA tested. Make sure you like our Facebook page to see the announcements for each part of the series.
Today, we’ll start with a quick DNA Testing Overview:
A genealogical DNA test analyzes a person's genome at specific locations. Results give information about personal ancestry and geographic ethnicity. These tests compare the results of an individual to others from the same lineage or to current and historic ethnic groups. Currently, there are three types of DNA tests genealogists can order; mitochondrial DNA, Y Chromosome DNA and autosomal DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA is transmitted from mother to child. A direct maternal ancestor can be traced using mtDNA. The transmission occurs with relatively rare mutations. A perfect match found to another person's mtDNA test results indicates shared ancestry of possibly between 1 and 50 generations ago.
Y-chromosome testing is one of the oldest and most powerful DNA tools used for genealogical purposes. The Y-Chromosome is one of the 23rd pair of human chromosomes. Only males have a Y-chromosome, because women have two X chromosomes in their 23rd pair. Because the Y-chromosome is transmitted from father to son nearly unchanged, a man's male-line ancestry can be traced using the DNA on his Y chromosome (Y-DNA).
Autosomal DNA is the 22 pairs of chromosomes that do not contribute to sex. These are inherited equally from both parents and roughly equally from grandparents to about 3x great-grand parents. Inheritance is more random and unequal from more distant ancestors.
Choosing the type of test to take depends largely on your goals; however, the most popular DNA test is the autosomal DNA test because it works across genders to locate relatives and help determine geographic ethnicity.
This is a quick 30,000 foot view of genealogy DNA testing; there are several books and websites dedicated to in-depth explanations of DNA testing.
Our series will explore detailed information about the benefits listed below:
1. Determine Ethnicity: Ever wonder where your ancestors came from? You might be surprised. Learn how DNA testing is used to determine your family’s origins.
2. Connect with Relatives: With the growing number of DNA testing participants, testing services have become a primary resource to connect with family. Whether you’re looking for lost relatives or want to meet new ones, DNA communities can bring family members together.
3. Discover Medical Traits: Several companies provide a service allowing you to upload your raw DNA results to provide a predictive report identifying risks for obesity, rheumatoid arthritis, prostate cancer and several other medical conditions.
4. Genetically Guided Fitness Plans: Take your fitness regime to the next level by using your DNA test results to isolate the exercises that will provide the best results for you.
5. Break through research “Brick Walls”: Every family historian runs into a problem that seems unsolvable. Learn how to use your DNA results to break through those brick walls.
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