DNA (My mtDNA to be exact)

The other day I received a kit from Family Tree DNA for the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) test that I’d purchased, and this reminded me that I have really posted about DNA lately.

On April 22nd, I ordered an mtDNA test from Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) for myself. It was the one DNA test I hadn’t done on my mom’s DNA, primarily because I didn’t think it would help me much with my genealogy and because I knew that I could do the test on my own DNA any time I’d like. But in April, I realized that I think I know about the origins of my maternal line, but why not find out for sure. FTDNA is one of the few companies that does full mitochondrial testing and because I had a sample there from when I’d done my Family Finder kit, purchasing the upgrade was easy, and besides, I think the tests were on sale (I love sales.) Since then, I’d checked to see if there had been any progress from time to time. I figured it was taking more time due to COVID, and I wasn’t in any hurry.

But the kit in the mail was a bit of a surprise. The letter was a bit generic as it could be used in several situations, but it explained that it was a replacement kit because to do an mtDNA test, it needed much more DNA than was present with my current sample. I’d completed my Family Finder kit in 2012, so I obviously hadn’t provided enough DNA to do the Family Finder test and have enough leftover to do the mtDNA test. Just so you know, FTDNA save your kit for 25 years, so there was still time, but there have to be enough DNA cells to complete the test. So I’ll be doing my kit today.

Anna Catharina Kottman nee Luxenburg (my 2x great grandmother)

But let’s talk about why I’m doing an mtDNA kit. I know that my mother’s mother’s mother, Anna Catharina Luxenburg was born in Sittard, Limburg, Netherlands.

But Anna’s grandmother was born in Herzogtum Jülich, which is about 42 km (26 miles approx) northeast of Sittard and is located in what is now Germany. So it will be interesting to see what my mtDNA might show.

mtDNA is not your recent DNA family history, but rather it’s going back thousands of years. As the FTDNA website state, “Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down almost unchanged from a mother to her children, allowing you to trace your maternal ancestry using advanced mtDNA tests and the world’s largest mtDNA database.” I’ll also receive a mtFull Sequence video which looks cool.

You probably already know that mtDNA follows your maternal line, and it’s a DNA test that both men and women can take. So as I said, my mtDNA would follow up my mom’s, mom’s, mom’s, mom… etc., and my brothers would follow the same path. So it would never be necessary to test all of us. This is different than when we do an autosomal DNA test where each person gets their own special blend of ancestral DNA.

The unique thing about mtDNA is that a mother passes on their mtDNA to their sons and daughters, but only the daughters can pass it on to their children. The mother’s mtDNA is passed to the sons, but it ends with him. I have tested my father’s DNA to follow his mother’s, mother’s, mother.. line. But the results weren’t that great, as you want to have matches with a genetic distance of 0, and unfortunately, all my dad’s are 2 or more. This doesn’t mean that they aren’t related; it just means that they aren’t as closely related.

What is the next step in your DNA journey? As I mentioned I think that my DNA test was on sale. Watch the sales as they are often associated with the different holidays. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. If you haven’t tested at FTDNA you might consider it because you never know where your family has tested and I’m always looking for cousins.

1 Comment

  • Brenda Nance DeLong says:

    Hi Ellen – yes I have been thinking of getting my/our (my oldest brothers) mtDNA done at FTDNA as well. I hope I can catch a sale.. xxoo Brenda Nance DeLong