What Is DNA?—A Molecule That Links Generations

February 22, 2019  - by 

What is DNA? We’ve all seen stunning pictures of DNA models, and many of us have heard the phrase “deoxyribonucleic acid” before. DNA can seem futuristic, scientific, and sometimes downright magical. But is there a simple definition of DNA, one that is a little less mysterious?

DNA affects our appearance and abilities, and it also links us back from generation to generation. Simply put, DNA is the most basic inheritance we get from our parents—and our grandparents, and great-great-grandparents, and so on. Each of our direct ancestors may have contributed to the DNA we carry in our cells.


You may be curious about your DNA because you want to learn more about your family, ethnicity, or health. Or maybe you just want to see your DNA results for the fun of it!

Regardless of why you want to learn more, DNA testing and DNA research can lead you to a lot more than your raw DNA test results. When you combine DNA testing with family history research, you can make connections with living family members—cousins you may not have even known you had—and your own ancestors. Learn more about DNA and how it can help you connect with your family.

DNA Brick Walls

Are you stuck in your family history research? DNA testing may help.

DNA Cousin Matches

Learn how to contact your DNA cousins and make discoveries.

A woman connects two puzzle pieces.

DNA match reunion - connecting with DNA cousins.

DNA and Adoptions

How to connect with your biological family through DNA testing.

DNA Testing

Compare options for DNA testing and find answers to DNA questions.

Family generation green eyes genetics concept. Chromosome mapping during DNA testing.

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  1. uhhh…hey folks DNA is not all that cut and dry…in fact…far from it. Just look at how way back when incest caused anomalies like hemophilia, jacob-kreuzfeld’s, all sorts of chromosome deficits like mongoloidism, diabetes, sickle cell anemia, etc…Point here being, we are also subjected to more ionizing radiation due to aerial transmitted hi-energy microwaves, than any of our preceding ancestors had to cope with. Each of these anomalies has caused subtle, and not so subtle changes to the DNA pool.

    For instance, folks called black afro-americans are not nearly as black as their present day african relatives. Part may be due to the dichotomy of house slave versus field slave when it came to miscegenation, or native amer-indians intermingling with field slaves and creating a modified dna pool. Just look at the ethnic diversity of Puerto Ricans which consists of nearly 1/3 carib indian, 1/3 african, 1/3 spaniard bloodlines, and the concomitant dna that accompanies each of these diverse bloodlines, which now, several 100 years later is its own unique bloodline.

    Just using the term DNA in itself is just an academic convenience. When applied to every ethnic group on the planet, DNA suddenly becomes a form of delimiter, like say in segregating folks by eye color, skin color, hair color, etc..For instance, is the genetic code for Chinese black hair the same as african black hair, etc.

  2. My family includes American Indian yet when two cousins tested their DNA, it came back negative for American Indians. The DNA tests are faulty — are not to be trusted.

    1. Depending on how far back their NA ancestry is the dna may not show the ethnicity for that group. It does not mean dna testing is faulty. It means that due to random dna inheritance they did not get the dna from those more distant ancestors that proves ethnicity. Matching ethnicity also requires that there is a pool of people with that proven ethnicity that matches your cousins. Many NA groups are suspicious that the dna will be used to harm them, they have been lied to in the past, so are refusing to be in testing pools or to test their dna. FamilyHistoryFanatics channel on youtube has some interesting videos on this topic you might want to check out.