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DNA Uncovered – Jargon

Over the next few days I will discuss the emerging world of Genealogy DNA and how it can help with your family history research. Hopefully this blog will help demystify the whole subject. So to get us started, here is some terminology that you might come across.

Autosomal Test– this tests your DNA from all your family lines – maternal and paternal and is the most common testing that is carried out by the public.  It finds relations throughout all your family ties and shows common ancestors though matches listed.  The difficulty when doing this test, is that it is not evident which side of your family the match comes from and this can require a bit of detective work to figure out.

Y DNA Test – this tests your DNA down your male family line only i.e. your father, your father’s father, your father’s father’s father etc.  It traces your (if you are male) surname line and is also referred as your patrimonial line. The Y DNA test can go back about 600 years. 

Mitochondrial DNA – this tests your DNA down your female line only i.e. your mother, your mother’s mother, your mother’s mother’s mother etc.  It cannot trace your surname as historically, a woman’s name would change after marriage.  

All the companies that provide DNA testing do autosomal tests i.e. Ancestry, My Heritage, 23 and Me and Family Tree DNA.  However, only Family Tree DNA do the Y DNA and Mitochondrial DNA tests.

The focus of My Heritage and 23 and Me has been doing DNA testing for health purposes but is now also focusing on genealogy DNA. 

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