DNA Ancestry Test – Q&A Regarding a DNA Ancestry Test

Many family historians are now considering a DNA ancestry test as part of their genealogical research plan. It is true that genetic testing for ancestry can prove valuable to researchers, but it may not reveal exactly what you think. This article confronts some of the most popular questions people have when considering taking a DNA ancestry test, and provides answers as to how they are relevant to the genealogical researcher. If you're a serious genealogists, read on to learn more about a DNA ancestry test.

How Does a DNA Ancestry Test Work?

Certain parts of our DNA are passed to us from our parents; some from our mothers and some only from our fathers. These particular DNA sequences remain relatively unchanged from generation to generation, and can be compared with the DNA ancestry test results of other people to determine the probability of us being related to them. If certain aspects of our DNA match with another's, there is an excellent chance that we may have found one of our relatives.

I Have Heard that there are Different Types of Genetic Testing. What Type of DNA Ancestry Test Should I Take?

That is an excellent question, and one that gets asked quite often. The two most popular   DNA ancestry tests are ones that can determine; your maternal lineage – a DNA ancestry test that examines a particular type of DNA (mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) that is passed only from mothers to their children, a paternal lineage test – which analyses the genetic material in the Y chromosome, which is only passed from fathers to their sons.

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What Will I Learn From a DNA Ancestry Test?

If you take an mtDNA test (maternal lineage) or a Y-Chromosome DNA Test (paternal lineage), you will find out which haplogroup you belong to on the relevant side of your family. A haplogroup is a group of people or a segment of the world’s population that share common characteristics or markers in their DNA. It is generally connected to a historical or geographical point of origin.

Examples of different haplogroups are the Vikings or Neolithic Peoples. Armed with this information from a DNA ancestry test, you can focus your research on a particular time period or geographical location where the probability of finding your ancestors is greatly increased.

How Long Will I have to Wait for the Results of My DNA Ancestry Test?

Once the laboratory receives your DNA sample (a simple swab taken from the inside of your mouth in the cheek area), you should receive the results of your DNA ancestry test within 4-6 weeks. More thorough testing could require anywhere from 8 – 12 weeks, and turnaround time also depends on the extraction and analysis procedures and policies of the company with which you take your DNA ancestry test.

Will a DNA Ancestry Test Reveal my Nationality?

There is a DNA ancestry test known as a Total Genomic Ancestry Classification which will compare your DNA sample to over 100 population groups around the world to see which you identify most closely with. It can determine if you have European, or Native American origins etc., but because Nationality is influenced by influences outside of genetics, it cannot accurately determine it or race. You will find out what anthropological native regions you have the most in common with, which is as accurate an indicator as you can get from genetics alone.

Can I Find Out if I'm Related to a Celebrity by Taking a DNA Ancestry Test?

This is probably the most popular question regarding a DNA ancestry test, and the answer is, hmmm…possibly!

Historical figures such as Thomas Jefferson, Charlie Chaplin, and the Wright Brothers (Orville and Wilbur) have been classified as members of particular haplogroups. Your DNA ancestry test will determine if you are of the same haplogroup as them, but as far as finding out if you're related to them, well you'll have to perform good old-fashioned genealogical research to determine that!

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If you have more questions regarding a DNA ancestry test, read through some of our other informative articles to learn about the history of genetic testing, more detailed information on the individual types of DNA ancestry test, and explanations of the particular components of DNA.

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