My most asked question. It’s taken the U.S. by storm. Most people know about ethnicity results which often come through an autosomal DNA test but there are other options as well and these options are currently on sale. Should you do it? The debate continues – with recent prosecutions aided by DNA, many question whether they should take the plunge.
mtDNA is a test that examines your mother’s line. This test examines your maternal ancestors only, including their geographic origins. It can come in handy as women are often difficult to find with traditional records (they had few legal rights and thus were not recorded as frequently in history). Family Tree DNA is probably the most well know company to offer this test and their full sequence mtDNA test is on sale for $149 ($40 off) until August 31st. There are less expensive options as well.
Y-DNA is the second test that is unfamiliar to many. It examines your father’s line. The Y chromosome is passed from a father to his sons only. Testing the chromosome identifies the male’s paternal family line and can help determine your paternal surname as well as their geographic origins. This basic test is on sale now as well although it is recommended one complete the 67 marker test at a minimum(which in not currently on sale).
Ancestry.com is still the most popular autosomal DNA testing company with over 9 million people in their database. A good comparison chart of the various companies offering autosomal DNA testing can be found here. Most are currently running sales on these tests as well.
Should you do it? The New York Times recently published an article about genealogists cracking five more cold cases. In these examples the genealogist used an open-source DNA site called GEDMatch to find their matches. If you purchase a DNA test through Ancestry.com or Family Tree DNA your results remain secure on their sites. But many people pull their DNA results from those sites and upload them to GEDMatch in hopes of finding additional matches. Personally I’m happy to see criminals put behind bars, but many are concerned that eventually medical insurance companies will collect this information which could result in denial of service or expensive rates. On the other hand, DNA is very easy to obtain and I know people who were adopted and have found their family through DNA testing and genealogical research. The debate continues and each person must evaluate the situation for themselves.