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DNA Testing – Science and Your Family Tree

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If you ever suspected that you may be related to royalty, or that you perhaps have a Native American streak, than DNA testing could prove you right.

What is DNA Testing?

  • Mitochrondrial DNA (mtDNA) is passed down the female side of the family to both girls and boys, but only continued through the female line. This type of DNA testing is useful in testing the general relationships between individuals.
  • Y chromosome DNA (Y DNA) is passed from father to son and is used to establish the level of relatedness to a common male ancestor.
  • DNA testing can also be used with sample groups to determine ethnic ancestry.

DNA Testing and Your Family Tree

If you are using DNA testing to help reveal your family tree, the DNA test results won’t make a lot of sense unless viewed alongside another individual to establish your most recent common ancestor, or against a group sample. DNA sample databases are used increasingly often for this purpose. The Y DNA testing will tell you if you are related to a common ancestor, whereas mtDNA testing will determine which haplogroup you belong to, which provides a breakdown of your ethnic background (ancestry).

DNA Testing Goes Back Further

Traditional methods used in researching family trees can only go back so far. DNA testing is one way of delving further into the past with the help of science and genetics. Thanks to breakthroughs in DNA testing scientists are able to trace our origins back as far as tens of thousands of years.

DNA Testing and Genetic Ancestry

The joining of DNA testing with genetic ancestry began with Oxford University geneticist Bryan Sykes, who discovered that Europeans could trace their heritage back to one of several women who lived forty thousand years ago, known as the ‘seven daughters of Eve’.

Seven Daughters of Eve

Half of all Europeans are believed to descend from Helena, who lived in the Pyrenees twenty thousand years ago. Ursula is the oldest of the seven daughters, who lived forty-five thousand years ago in northern Greece, and one in ten Europeans are believed to be descended from her, particularly those from Scandinavia and western Britain.

DNA Testing Quite Straightforward

DNA testing may provide extraordinary revelations about your family’s ancestry, but the DNA test itself is quite straightforward. A mouth swab rubbed inside the cheek provides a sufficient sample for analysis.

Matching DNA Sequences

Although DNA testing reveal fascinating facts about your heritage it can also bear other surprises. If you discover an exact match between your DNA sequence and another on the database then you are closely related and may be able to add each other to your family trees.


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