Hiring a DNA Testing Company

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Hiring a Professional Researcher go to  Hiring a DNA Testing Company

DNA testing has become an accepted tool for identifying ancestors and for verifying genealogical leads. It is also used frequently to learn about our deep ancestry.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Genealogy courses: Learn how to research from an expert in GeneTech: YDNA Solutions to Common Genealogical Problems.

  1. How can DNA testing help my genealogical research?
  2. Which company should I pick?
  3. How much does it cost?
  4. Who can be tested?
  5. How do I interpret my DNA results?

A lecture given at RootsTech 2012 can help you answer these questions:

CeCe Moore's "DNA Testing for Genealogy - Getting Started" series is a great place for beginners. Read her posts at the Geni blog:

Y-DNA Testing

Information stored in the Y chromosome (Ycs) passes virtually unchanged from father-to-son for centuries. Analysis of this genetic information, found in living people, can help you determine whether you share a common paternal ancestor with another person alive today. Based on the number of genetic markers shared on the Ycs with another person, you can also estimate how many generations in the past your common paternal ancestor lived. This is called Time to the Most Recent Common Ancestor (TMRCA) and it is based on a mutation rate calculated on many thousands of father/son pairs. Ycs testing can help in verifying a common paternal ancestor, or learn about the origin of a particular surname. Additionally, each Ycs can be predicted into a specific branch of the large Ycs tree based on the set of Short Tandem Repeats (STRs) tested by many companies and using an online predictor, or it can be accurately assigned to one of these branches through the test of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) (see the Ycs ISOGG tree).

Note: Only males carry the Ycs, but a woman can have a male relative tested in her stead to obtain such information.

MTDNA Testing

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is a small circular genetic molecule found outside the nucleus in organelles called mitochondria. It is inherited exclusively from our mothers and it follows an unbroken maternal line. MtDNA is helpful in verifying the existence of a common maternal ancestor or to study the ancient origins of our maternal line. MtDNA lineages can be grouped together in a large mtDNA tree. Each branch of this tree may have a specific geographic distribution that might help someone locate the country or region of origin of their maternal line.

MtDNA testing can be done for a small section of the genome called the control region (which usually include the segments HVR1, 2 and/or 3), or for the full molecule (16569 bases). Family Tree DNA is currently the only commercial laboratory offering the complete mtDNA sequence to its customers.

Note: Although mtDNA is inherited exclusively along the maternal side, both males and females carry it. Only females will pass it on to their children. ISOGG has a useful diagram which shows the path of mtDNA transmission.

Autosomal DNA Testing

Autosomal DNA is the DNA found in the 22 pairs of nuclear chromosomes. They are shuffled at each generation and only half of it is passed to our offspring. It does not follow a clear and straight path of inheritance as the Ycs and mtDNA described above. However, current testing provides a survey of one million or more sites on a person nuclear genome. This information is helpful in identifying recent cousins within the last five generations, or the ethnic origins of our family tree. Companies like 23andMe, Family Tree DNA, and Ancestry all offer autosomal testing for genealogical purposes. The Genographic Project recently launched an autosomal test that offers insights into our deep ancestry. These tests offer a lot of information about our DNA and they may be difficult to understand. Each company offering such tests has numerous tutorials and aids on their website to assist with the interpretation of such results. Additionally, 23andMe offers information about medical predispositions and traits.

DNA Testing Companies

Some major commercial DNA testing companies are listed below in alphabetical order. Please visit their websites to learn more about their services:

  • 23andMe: Autosomal DNA test only (Relative Finder), with Ycs and mtDNA haplogroup assignment and information about diseases and traits.
  • Ancestry DNA: Ycs and mtDNA profiles sold separately. Plus a new autosomal DNA test which is currently only available in the US.
  • DNA Consulting
  • Family Tree DNA: A large variety of DNA tests available, including the largest set of Ycs STRs (111) and the only complete mtDNA sequence. Their autosomal test is called Family Finder.
  • Oxford Ancestors

Public DNA Databases

Result Interpretation Assistance

Organizations, such as The Genetic Genealogist, The Genetic Genealogy Consultant, and Your Genetic Genealogist provide services to help you interpret your DNA results and get the most out of what they can tell you about your roots.

DNA Projects

Thousands of DNA Projects, usually focused on a particular surname, location, or ethnicity, are active around the world. To determine if a DNA project is underway for your ancestor's surname, start with World Families Network. A listing of geographical projects can be found in the ISOGG Wiki.

Other DNA projects can be found on the Internet by using a search engine, such as Google, with the words "Genealogy DNA". Contact each organization for additional information.

Examples of individual projects include:

What is DNA?

DNA research is based on the 46 chromosomes that every human being has (with few exceptions). The gender-determining chromosomes are X from the mother and either X or Y from the father.  If X from the father, the child is female and if Y from the father the child is male.  The Y-chromosome can be traced from father to son to son and so on.

In addition, each human being carries a genetic molecule in their cells called the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA). This genetic component is found in organelles called mitochondria, which produce energy for the hosting cell. MtDNA is inherited exclusively along the mother side. Both males and females carry mtDNA, but only women will pass their mtDNA to their children.

Since the mutation of chromosomes is very slow the study of the Y-chromosome or the mtDNA trail forms the basis of the DNA tests used for genealogy purposes.

DNA in the news


Wikipedia has more about this subject: Genetic genealogy


  1. Dick Eastman, "Getting Started in Genetic Genealogy Part #4," Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, 11 August 2012, http://blog.eogn.com/eastmans_online_genealogy/2012/08/getting-started-in-genetic-genealogy-part-4.html.


Neither The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints nor FamilySearch is associated in any way with any DNA studies. As a non-profit organization, FamilySearch cannot recommend a specific DNA-testing company to you.