At some point in your life, you have probably heard of or thought about DNA testing. Whether you are just curious or thinking about getting a DNA test, we are here for you to help you understand what it is and what companies such as Family Tree DNA offers.
DNA testing can help you discover your ancestors, understand cultures, find your family’s roots, and much more. Most DNA tester also now do DNA health tests that help you understand risk factors, genealogical ailments in your family tree, and more.
There is every chance that you have a few questions about DNA testing and the companies that practice it and offer public services.
You may be wondering if it’s safe, what DNA testing really is if you are privacy protected, how it is done, and of course, if DNA testing is the right thing for you and what you are looking for.
With so many DNA testing companies out there now, it can be hard to know which one offers exactly what you are looking for, or which one is the safest.
Everyone advertises on TV and online these days, so there is every chance you feel a little inundated with offers and information and are still confused, searching for answers. And now you’re here.
We’ve all been there.
What is Family Tree DNA
Let’s start by helping you understand Family Tree DNA and who they are.
While there are so many companies out there that offer DNA testing, we’ve chosen to review this one, there is a lot to review with Family Tree DNA, as they offer so many test kits, a plethora of information, and are a renowned, tip-top star in DNA testing.
Family Tree DNA came into existence in 2000, and started out offering just a few tests; Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Cohanim DNA. But later in 2010 they bridged the gap with Family finder DNA testing and started getting a bigger name.
They are in fact a leading choice with genealogy professionals with their outstanding DNA testing.
They’re so impressive in their DNA testing capabilities that they are the testing partner for a National Geographic project in motion to learn more about history, ethnic origins, and historical migrations. In a way, they are helping to unravel human history through genealogy.
They are connected with a vast community of genealogists and thanks to this they have many resources available to you, including online support and help when you need assistance in understanding your test results or wanting help in using them to the fullest.
The types of kits available
When it comes to testing kits, you may not know what to choose, as there are so many testing kits available, and unless you understand what each one means, it can be very confusing and you could spend hours trying to understand what exact results you can get from each.
There are three primary types of DNA test, these are the ones that Family Tree DNA started off with. These are; Autosomal DNA, YDNA, and mtDNA. Let’s look into what they all mean.
Autosomal DNA is a mixture of all your DNA passed on from your ancestors, giving you access to a full ancestral understanding of your genetic makeup.
It tells you about all your ancestors, going back about five generations. It also helps you to connect with perhaps previously unknown living relatives as well as helping you identify the regions your ancestors lived in and help you to further understand your deep ethnic origins.
The autosomal DNA test is fantastic at helping you find living relatives, this is because autosomal DNA gets mixed together throughout every generation, which only provides good information that goes back up to five generations. You could perhaps even find relatives up to your third or fourth cousins.
This type of test is also fantastic for cases where someone in your immediate family is adopted, perhaps yourself or a parent. Since you may not know of certain living blood relatives, this type of test can help you find them.
It also has the ability to identify places and regions in which your ancestors lived, in this case, your results would come back as percentages. Such as 30% Scandinavia, 50% British Isles, 20% South Africa. This will help you identify places and search more into the reports and information about your ancestors.
FamilyTreeDNA has also updated this to include a few unique features to make investigating your origins even more interesting. They are including 60+ new populations, they map your ethnic and geographic background, help you gain insight into your ancestral origins, and confirm family history and traditions.
You can also map out your ancient history and find the amount of autosomal DNA you have from old ancestors from Neolithic hunters/gatherers, Early farmers, and more in Europe and will show you the percentage on the non-European background you have in the same map.
YDNA follows your male paternal line, for males only, e.g. a son’s father’s, father’s, father’s, father, for 25 or more generations. It provides information on specific regions of your paternal line and how they migrated around the world through time. It is perfect for connecting with those of the same surname.
YDNA tells you about your surname (last name), through your father’s line. It is often used to connect with others of the same surname, via the surname project, which is essentially a group of people with the same surname researching all the way back to the same ancestor and the origin of the surname.
YDNA is very useful if you have a common surname as it helps you know if you’re related to someone else if you have a very common surname such as Jones or Smith.
FamilyTreeDNA offers three different types of Y-DNA test; Y-37, Y-67, and Y111. This basically means that the higher the number the higher number of DNA stars will be tested, which will take you back further and give you more data through time. It will also give you more concrete results stretching further through time through more generations.
Sadly this test is only for males, as women do not have the Y- chromosome, women can still do so by getting their immediate male relatives to take the test, so long as they are part of the paternal line, for example, their father would be a great choice in this instance.
This is a fantastic test and is widely available and very accurate. The Y-chromosome passes unchanged through generations between father and son, so all male ancestors of the same line will carry the same Y chromosome.
Their ancestors will have carried this through their migrations and therefore making it possible to track your personal ancestry. Doing it through FamilyTreeDNA gives you access to do this through the largest ever Y-DNA database.
MtDNA examines the DNA that is passed on by a mother to her children, be they male or female.
It follows the direct maternal line much like Y-DNA follows the direct paternal line, e.g. a son or daughter’s mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother’s, mother, etc. It provides specific information on the regions in which your maternal line lived and came from and how they migrated over time.
This type of DNA test gives you information only about your maternal line, but it goes a very long way back. It can be used to find living relatives as well and could go as distant as 23rd cousins!
It is very useful for seeing where your maternal line migrated from. Much like Y-DNA, you can buy a test for a family member to track their specific maternal line, for example, you could get your father to do the test to track his mother/ your grandmother’s maternal line.
It is very similar to Y-DNA but is only for your maternal side and it does not help with surnames, as surnames are usually only passed down through the male side in each generation.
How does it work?
Tell me more?
If all this has you as intrigued as we are, and you have decided you want to complete a DNA test with FamilyTreeDNA then you need not do very much, it is completed in just a few very simple steps.
- Decide what kind of test you want, an ancestral test (Autosomal), a paternal test (YDNA), or a maternal test (mtDNA).
- Click on FamilyTreeDNA’s website and order the test you have chosen online.
- The test kit will be shipped to you quickly and efficiently by FamilyTreeDNA once you have ordered.
- When the test kit arrives, simply complete a cheek swab, there will be instructions in your kit, simply follow them and swab away.
- Once you have completed the kit, send it back to FamilyTreeDNA, thee will be a pre-paid shipping label in your kit, so there is no need to pay to ship your test kit back.
- In 6-8 weeks, you will receive an email from FamilyTreeDNA, it will inform you that your results are ready and can be viewed online.
- Once you get this email, simply go onto FamilyTreeDNA and access your results.
So simply done!
If like us you’re a bit curious as to how your DNA will be processed and stored FamilyTreeDNA has covered that too. They inform us on how your DNA will be managed.
-each sample collection kit will include two vials, one for the inside of either cheek. Both will be labeled with a barcode associating the vials with you.
A single vial will be sent out to their federally compliant certified laboratory for DNA extraction, in which your DNA will be stored in a robotic freezer at -20C which will be ready to be processed for the designated tests.
The remaining DNA is returned to a freezer for any future tests ordered by you. The second vial will be stored in a fully secured room at room temperature for anywhere up to 25 years and is usually only ever used in the event that the DNA from the first vial does not provide sufficient enough data.
DNA health report testing.
FamilyTreeDNA also has a health report test, which encompasses 1000+ health categories and conditions medical effects, health traits, and more.
- Carrier Screening- Carrier screening helps you to gain insights into your carrier status and the risk of diseases with various organ systems. It screens for over 365 severe or debilitating diseases.
- Organ system diseases- Through this, you can gain insight into your risk for disease associated with various organ systems. This screens for variants associated with diseases in major organ groups.
- Secondary or incidental conditions- In this, you can gain information on conditions for which you are incidentally found to have a disease causing variant, this can include conditions recommended to be screened by the ACMGG. It evaluates variants associated with 59 secondary or incidental conditions.
- Disease risk- disease risk will grant you a view into diseases and your risk levels, including conditions that are specific to you based on your medical history and family history as well as conditions that are population specified. This looks at a multitude of diseases and disease categories
- Cancer predisposition- You can gain insight into your cancer predispositions and be screened for variants associated with 12 and more types of cancer
- Fitness traits- You can look into your fitness traits, finding out how your genotype in certain genes affects your fitness and physical activity. Including exercise motivation, behavior, and your body’s ability to exercise and recover from many exercises. You can also learn what type of exercise is good for your body and your predisposition to many physiological responses to doing so.
- Nutritional and dietary traits- helping you discover the best nutritions based on your genotype for a plethora of genes, associated with minerals, eating habits, metabolism, and food sensitivities.
- Additional traits- Gives you information regarding traits that you might find intriguing related to your genotype, such things, such as, male pattern baldness, ear wax production, and so on, It will evaluate you for 5+ types.
- Medication effects- You can find out what medications are the very best for you and the correct dosages to increase the efficiency of these and minimize the side effects.
- Education- You can find information regarding conditions and receive continuous updates as scientific knowledge adapts and advances in the genetics field. This can include a 30-minute physician consultation.
Alongside this health report testing package, you can also receive the family finder pack or as we know it right now the Autosomal package.
Getting information about the last five generations of your family line and giving you a ‘myPopulations’ breakdown that will provide you with information and percentages of your ancestry, discovering where your DNA is from.
All about DNA privacy.
Should you be concerned about your privacy when sending your DNA to someone you don’t know, there are many things you may want to take into account before doing a DNA test. And, we don’t blame you.
Sharing your email is totally optional, and is not something to worry about. Only fellow researchers with matching DNA will be able to see it. (Distant relatives maybe!)
One of the reasons that FamilyTreeDNA has skyrocketed in its popularity is its infamy in being totally private and keeping private information private. There is no need to worry about your DNA being shared, or any of your personal information for that matter.
Whether or not you are searching for some long long relatives, curious about your health and your genealogical medical biology, or if you’re just curious to see where your ancestors came from, in discovering your roots. FamilyTreeDNA offers an absolutely fantastic DNA analysis for you.
Giving you information on your father’s family line, your mother’s family line, or just the last five generations, you have loads of options available, with bundles and vast spans of information, giving you everything you need to learn about where you come from and what you are a built from.
Prices with FamilyTreeDNA range through many options, so it also depends on affordability for you, the cheapest option is definitely the Autosomal test, due to it only tracking ack five years, but if you can afford it there are even packages that offer all three tests or if you want a health test and ancestry test, that is available as well.
FamilyTreeDNA can reunite you with long lost relatives, introduce you to new family members you didn’t even know you had, help you learn new things about yourself and your family tree, or give you a new insight into your health and your families health.
There is so much opportunity, with a DNA test, if you’re thinking about it. We say, go for it!