Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Genetic Genealogy Tests

Genealogy Friends,

I need your help. J and I finally have the funds to order a genealogical DNA test (or two) and I am not sure how to move forward. I know I want to start with my maternal line as my uncle, the oldest living male on this side, and my grandmother, the oldest living female relative on this side, have both agreed to take the test.

After researching several companies, I still am at a loss on what to do. Please comment with any answers/advice you can give!

In your opinion, which type of test should I order?  Is it better to have each (uncle & grandma) take a separate test or to have my uncle take the combined one?
  • Paternal Lineage (Y-Chromosome) - my uncle
  • Maternal Lineage (mtDNA) - my grandma
  • Paternal & Maternal Lineage - my uncle
Which company would you suggest I use? I have an account and it would be easy to just order through them, but we are spending a good chunk of change and want to get it 'right' the first time.

THANK YOU in advance!

Sara Beth (a.k.a. @InnerCompass)


  1. I hate to say this but I would not go through Ancestry for DNA testing. I used Ancestry the first time I did the testing. While they got the mutations right, their interpretation of the data was totally different than all the databases I inputed the results into.

    After a lot of research, I decided to retest through Family Tree DNA. There were several reasons. 1. They tend to be the standard by which all other companies are judged. 2. They have been around the longest. 3. At least two of the other companies use Family Tree DNA to do their testing. Why would I want / need a go between? 4. They have the biggest database. My main goal in doing the testing was to use it to assist in breaking down brick walls. Therefor, I wanted to go with a company with a fairly sizeable database.

    As far as who to test, is your uncle your grandmother's child? If your uncle is your grandmom's child thend depending on company used, you might be able to save a few dollars by getting a package on the uncle for both yDNA and mtDNA. Otherwise, I like using the ancester / relative that is the closest to what I'm trying to determine.

  2. I second the Family Tree DNA suggestion. They have a good track record, have been around for a long time, and I know they are accurate, because both myself and my maternal uncle tested our mtDNA and match perfectly (as we should).

    Who to test depends on what you want to learn. mtDNA will tell you your "deep ancestry"; most matches won't be recent relatives, but having a Haplogroup assigned could help you direct your research.

    Y DNA will help you match up with cousins and relatives; very useful if you aren't sure about your uncle's paternal lineage on that side, like where your immigrant ancestors came from.

    I was also think you could get the combined test for your uncle (if he's your grandmother's son) and that would probably cost the least, while covering both directions.

  3. Have you considered doing what I am, waiting for the new test to come out? The new "Family Finder" will be available soon. I am going to test myself with it.

  4. I am at the same place as you are, ready to make the investment, but unsure what service is the best fit. The two of most interest to me right now are the 23andme Ancestry package which included 'Relative Finder' or the upcoming Family Tree DNA offering with 'Family Finder'.

  5. I've done mtDNA on myself through Family Tree DNA and Y DNA on on my dad through Ancestry. I agree with the suggestions about using Family Tree DNA. I had no problems with Ancestry, but the database is bigger at Family Tree DNA, so you will get more hits.

    I also agree about doing the combo on your uncle, if you can afford to do both tests at once.

    If you can only do one, then I would suggest the Y DNA. mtDNA is really only going to tell you what part of the world your maternal line came from - my results said Northern Europe - which is great, but I already knew that. If you think you might have Native American blood in your direct maternal line, but have no paper proof, it might be worth doing the mtDNA to confirm or deny.

    Lastly, I too am waiting on the new autosomal test (Relative Finder and/or Family Finder). It's going to be a more expensive test than just yDNA, but I think the results are going to be much better.

  6. I have to vote for the Family Tree DNA, too. We had three family members tested, joined some surname projects, and have been very happy with the results. So, enjoyed reading Sylvia's diary saga.