As medical technologies become more and more available to the general public, DNA tests have become a household source of entertainment. Years ago, DNA testing was reserved for police investigations, paternity tests, and trashy daytime television. However, you can now order a DNA kit straight to your front door.
For the most part, people have become interested in these DNA tests to understand their genealogy and family history a little bit better. There are three basic types of DNA tests that can be completed to learn about your family history: Y-DNA tests, mitochondrial DNA tests, and autosomal DNA tests.
Each of these tests serves a unique purpose in looking at your family history. In order to know which type of test you want to order, you need to understand the basic components behind each of these types of DNA testing to discover your roots.
Y-DNA testing takes a hard look into a single chromosome: the Y-chromosome. The Y-chromosome is passed from biological fathers to their sons. So, by looking into the Y-chromosome, scientists can trace patrilineal ancestry back as far as hundreds of thousands of years. Pretty cool, right?
There is one huge problem with Y-DNA testing: women do not have a Y-chromosome. This means that about half of the people who might want to get testing done are not eligible for this type of testing that looks deeply into their patrilineal history. However, a female can have a male on her father’s side do this type of testing in order to fill in the gaps of family history if she wants. You can check out these DNA expert’s angle on the topic at bestdnatestingkits.com.
Mitochondrial DNA Testing
In case you have not already caught on, you need to have some basic understanding of human biology to understand each of these different types of tests. Mitochondrial DNA testing is actually used to trace the matrilineal line (or female line).
Your body is composed of cells and inside each of those cells is the mitochondria, which is kind of like a powerhouse of the cell. Mitochondria are passed down from a mother to her children (regardless of gender), but fathers do not give any mitochondria to their children. This is why this is only used to trace a matrilineal line.
While Y-DNA testing and mitochondrial DNA testing have some similar limitations in tracing family history, mitochondrial DNA testing is able to be administered to anyone regardless of gender. However, neither of these tests will give you much information about the distant family that you might have alive right now.
Autosomal DNA Testing
Autosomal DNA testing looks at a great deal more than either of the other two most common forms of DNA testing. This type of testing considers 22 of the autosomal chromosomes. These chromosomes are the segments that are shared between all of your relatives.
Everybody has autosomal chromosomes, so there are no limitations on who can take an autosomal DNA test. Also, these results are considered to be fairly accurate.
Although DNA testing cannot completely solve the mystery behind your family’s heritage, you can learn quite a bit of information using one of the at-home kits. Understanding the different types of information you can get out of each type of test can help you to understand which company you want to go with when it comes time to pick which DNA kit you want to buy. Regardless of what you ultimately choose, making the step into the realm of DNA genealogy is a great way to start filling in gaps in family history.