Hot5 is a comparison site specialising in a range of entertaining, security and lifestyle topics. In the past decade, home DNA testing has progressed to a competitive market with dozens of companies offering accurate and trusted results. Today, it has become more affordable and accessible to have your DNA tested. Are you 100% aware of your heritage and ancestry? If you require some answers about where you and your family comes from, then take a look at our detailed reviews to see what type of DNA test are available.
What is DNA?
DNA, otherwise known as, deoxyribonucleic acid, is in every living cell. It is a chemical chain that tells our cells how to grow and act.
DNA is divided up into chromosomes which are in turn divided into genes. We (humans) have 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 in total): we receive 23 chromosomes from our mother and 23 from our father.
During our creation, our 23rd chromosome is either an X-chromosome or a Y-chromosome and determines if we are male or female. Women have two X-chromosomes, while men have one X-chromosome and one Y-chromosome.
What is generic ancestry testing?
Genetic ancestry testing, or genetic genealogy, is a method for people to go beyond what they can learn from relatives or from historical documentation about their family history (genealogy). Examination of DNA variations can provide clues about where a person’s ancestors might have come from and about relationships between families. Patterns of genetic variation are often shared amongst people of particular backgrounds, meaning the more closely related two individuals, families, or populations are, the more patterns of variation they’ll typically share.
Here are three types of genetic ancestry testing that are frequently used for genealogy:
Y chromosome testing
A Y chromosome DNA test (T-DNA test) is used to explore a man’s patrilineal or direct father’s-line ancestry. Y chromosome is exclusively passed from father to son, as women do not carry this chromosome.
Mitochondrial DNA testing
Both males and females have mitochondrial DNA, which is passed on from their mothers so this type of testing can be used by either sex. It provides information about their mother’s ancestral line. Mitochondrial DNA testing is quite valuable for genealogy because it preserves information about female ancestors that may be lost from the historical record because their surnames are often not passed down.
Single nucleotide polymorphism testing
These tests evaluate large numbers of variations across a person’s entire genome, meaning it provides an estimate of a person’s ethnic background. For example, the pattern of SNPs might indicate that a person’s ancestry is approximately 50% European, 15% Asian, 20% African, and 15% unknown. Genealogists use this type of test because the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA test represents their parent’s ancestral lines, and not their overall ethnic background.
In the brands we have recommended above, you will receive results in (at least) one of the following:
Ancestry and family history
You will get a detailed breakdown of ancestry and ethnicity, and the migration patterns of your ancestors.
Some DNA services will let you connect with relatives you never knew you had.
Health and disease info
DNA testing can also indicate which conditions you may have a preponderance. There can be some setbacks with learning that you have a genetic predisposition, for example, having a certain form of cancer may make you more vigilant for testing, but it may also lead to increased stress. You could end up worrying about a potential condition that may never develop, even if you’re “genetically liable” to it.
- Ethnicity percentage calculator
Some services will offer to check what proportions of varying ethnicities are in your DNA. While most can do this with a good degree of ethnicities, the more people in the ethnicity detected, the more specific it will be. This is due to there being proportionately less people who are in that DNA database and so less people to compare your genes with. Also remember that this is an ethnicity calculator not a nationality calculator! Ethnicity is your genetic heritage while nationality is just a man-made label a certain area. As nationalities have commonly changed sizes or seized to exist this is hard to impossible to track genetically.
Three questions to ask yourself
Here are three important questions to ask yourself before getting a DNA test.
1. Why are you getting your DNA tested?
Obviously, different people have different reasons for going through a DNA test.
Some examples of questions to ask yourself are: Do you want to find out more information on your father’s ancestry? Or your mother’s? Are you testing to find more about your health history and possibilities? What will you do once you have received your results? Will you be looking to connect with distant relatives?
2. Are you prepared for results which you might not like?
Some past results which have floored previous people include finding out that an old family tale is a lie, discovering an illegitimacy or that there was a criminal in the family tree, or that your parent/s is not your birth parent.
No matter how sure you are of your heritage or health, you might receive some expected results that you may not like. Are you prepared to live with the knowledge that what you previously believed may be a misconception? If you are hesitant, then we advise you to not take the test yet.
3. Are you willing to be contacted by genetic matches?
Most DNA testing companies will show you relatives of who have also tested with the company that is close genetic matches. You will then be able to contact them through the testing company’s website if you wish. This can also go the other way as these matches can also contact you.