National DNA Day is April 25th so this week and next week’s blog will be dedicated to the three types of DNA tests that you can take. Then if you still haven’t taken the DNA plunge you will know what DNA tests you might want to purchase.
If you’ve been reading up on DNA then you know there are three DNA tests a person can take and an ever-growing number of companies to test with. The three tests you can take are Y-DNA to follow your male direct line (males can only take this test), mtDNA to follow your direct female line (males and females can take this test) and Autosomal DNA (both males and females can take this test). Autosomal DNA is the most popular test and is the one provided by all the DNA testing companies.
As I mentioned earlier; Autosomal DNA is the most popular test. Each of us receives 50% of our DNA from our mom and 50% from our father and each of us receive a different combination of that DNA from our parents. Often people will ask; if my brother has tested do I need to? My answer is yes because your DNA will provide different information from your siblings. You are unique.
So why do you want to take an Autosomal test and what will you discover? First of all, unless you’re a genealogist, I believe the primary reason the average person considers taking a DNA test is to see what their ethnicity is. To find out if their ancestors came from the places they imagined they did. Each of the companies that sell Autosomal DNA kits offers this element. The percentage information you receive from each of the companies may be slightly different because each company has their own reference population to compare your DNA against. Below is my breakdown.
The other thing you gain is your DNA connections. So depending on who else has tested at the same company you may find siblings, aunt’s, uncle’s, cousin and distant cousins. You can make cousins connections as far back as 8th cousins but of course, you will only be able to prove the relationship based on your genealogical tree. So genetic genealogy results work hand in hand with genealogy.
That’s not to say that you can’t figure out a family brickwall using DNA. I’m actually using DNA to try to figure out who my maternal great grandfather’s biological parents were as well as who my paternal grandfather’s father was. So, in this case, there is no apparent paper trail but because both of these relations aren’t that distant I should be able to come to a reasonable conclusion should the right people test and then find a possible paper trail.
Who to Test
So that brings us to the question as to who should test? If I could have any wish I’d say everyone but that’s not realistic so I’ll say test as many people as you can afford or convince. As many of the older generation as you can or if you have a specific DNA goal then you’d want to test those people who’s DNA would help answer the question.
So for my great-grandfather, William Beaton who was adopted I’ve tested my mom and all her living siblings and some of my mom’s cousins and second cousins. Then if I have a bit of luck and get some close matches I can start seeing who each has in common.
There are several companies that offer Autosomal DNA testing and I’ve listed all the companies that I’d suggest below. I’ve tested at every one of the companies (You know what I say. I haven’t met a DNA test that I didn’t like) But if you’re looking for the best bang for your buck then I’d suggest first testing at Ancestry and then transferring your raw data to MyHeritage and Family Tree DNA and Gedmatch.
Ancestry.ca (Canada) p.s. if someone uses this link can you please let me now I’m tracking it to see if it works the way it should
Ancestry. UK (England)
Be sure to read and understand the Terms and Conditions for each of the companies.
Note; the above links are affiliate links that I receive a small amount of money for. That money is used to support The DNA Angel Project and 10% of the funds are donated to the Alzheimer’s Society.