Genealogy 101: To test DNA, or not to test – that is the question

DNA testing can determine if two people are related, or descend from the same ancestor

One of the more interesting new ways to research your family tree, is to submit a sample for DNA testing.

DNA testing can determine if two people are related, or descend from the same ancestor; it can tell you if you are related to others with the same surname; and provide clues about your ethnic origin.

While DNA tests have been around for many years, it is only recently that the cost to do the testing has come within financial reach of the average person.  Currently the cost averages between $100 and $400 per test, depending on which company you ask.

If you apply for a kit, you receive the necessary bits to take a mouth swab and send it securely through the mail to the lab, and within a month or two the results are ready.

There are two main types of tests available.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is the type of DNA passed on from the mother to both male and female children, without any mixing.  Therefore, your mtDNA is the same as your mother’s, which is the same as her mother’s, etc.  This form of DNA changes very slowly, so it isn’t as useful for determining close relationship.  For instance, if two people have an exact match, then they share a common maternal ancestor, but it is hard to determine if this is a recent ancestor, or one who lived hundreds of years ago.  It is important to note that a male’s mtDNA comes only from his mother, and is not passed on to his children.

Y-DNA, on the other hand, follows the Y chromosome in the DNA.  It is only available for males, since only males receive this chromosome.  Tiny chemical markers on the Y chromosome create distinctive patters know as haplotypes, that distinguish one male lineage from another.  Shared markers can indicate relatedness, although not to the exact degree.

Then, of course, there are the Autosomal DNA tests; this test looks at genetic markers found in the 22 chromosome pairs which contain randomly mixed DNS from both parents.  This DNA, since it it inherited from both parents and all four grandparents, can be used to test for all sorts of family ties.

So when checking around to find a price you can afford, keep in mind what types of testing the company will provide.  If you are a woman, and the site you are looking at only provides Y-DNA testing, then it is not for you.

Whether or not a DNA test is something worth doing, will depend a lot on how much information you already have, and whether such a test is likely to help fill in any blanks.  For instance, I can follow most of my dad’s tree back to the 1400’s and nearly 100 percent of them come from the same basic area of the Netherlands.  Tracing that side of the family wouldn’t likely reveal anything new worth the cost of the test.  But on my mom’s side – it could reveal a great deal, including whether or not there is any Jewish blood on her side of the family.

To learn more about genetic DNA, visit the website: www.isogg.org/wiki/Wiki_Welcome_Page, it has lots of great information.

Just Posted

A for sale sign is shown in by new homes in Beckwith, Ont., just outside Ottawa, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Thompson-Okanagan population grew despite COVID-19: report

The Chartered Professional Accountants of BC said there are 8,462 new residents in the region

Residents line up outside the Vernon Recreation Complex for their COVID-19 vaccine Saturday, June 5. (Jennifer Smith - Morning Star)
No appointments necessary for first dose COVID-19 vaccine: Interior Health

People can just show up at clinics, register on the spot and get the shot

(TNRD Library)
Let the mystery of the Summer Reading Club begin

Are you ready to ‘Crack the Case’ at the Barriere Library?

(Metro Creative photo)
Gardeners of all ages invited to enter 2021 NT Fall Fair contests

The North Thompson Fall Fair Drive Thru scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 4,… Continue reading

People watch a car burn during a riot following game 7 of the NHL Stanley Cup final in downtown Vancouver, B.C., in this June 15, 2011 photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Geoff Howe
10 years ago: Where were you during the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup Riots?

Smashed-in storefronts, looting, garbage can fires and overturned cars some of the damage remembered today

(Black Press Media file)
Dirty money: Canadian currency the most germ-filled in the world, survey suggests

Canadian plastic currency was found to contain 209 bacterial cultures

(pixabay file shot)
B.C. ombudsperson labels youth confinement in jail ‘unsafe,’ calls for changes

Review states a maximum of 22 hours for youth, aged 12 from to 17, to be placed in solitary

Eleonore Alamillo-Laberge, 6, reads a book in Ottawa on Monday, June 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Parents will need to fight ‘COVID learning slump’ over summer: B.C. literacy experts

Parents who play an active role in educating their children this summer can reverse the slump by nearly 80%, says Janet Mort

Kelowna General Hospital. (File photo)
COVID-19 outbreak at Kelowna General Hospital declared over

Three people tested positive for the virus — two patients and one staff — one of whom died

The border crossing on Highway 11 in Abbotsford heading south (file)
Western premiers call for clarity, timelines on international travel, reopening rules

Trudeau has called Thursday meeting, premiers say they expect to leave that meeting with a plan

The B.C. government’s vaccine booking website is busy processing second-dose appointments, with more than 76 per cent of adults having received a first dose. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 infections, hospitalizations stable for Tuesday

108 new confirmed cases, 139 in hospital, 39 in intensive care

A worker, at left, tends to a customer at a cosmetics shop amid the COVID-19 pandemic Thursday, May 20, 2021, in Los Angeles. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
Half of cosmetics sold in Canada, U.S. contain toxic chemicals: study

Researchers found that 56% of foundations and eye products contain high levels of fluorine

Most Read