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  • Paige Nelson

What are the most common Genealogical DNA Tests?

At every generation, our ancestors passed down records through their DNA. That DNA inheritance is why you have your great- great grandmother’s blue eyes, your grandfather’s curly hair, or your great-aunt’s eyebrows.


There are tests that can be used in your family search and some can be a big help to tracing cousins or other living family members. The catch is, if the other family members haven’t got a DNA test done then they won’t show up in the database.

Each type of test has its differences and is useful in a different way. Here are brief summaries on each:

· Mitochondrial- DNA (mtDNA) Testing is one of the most common DNA tests. It is used by the military to identify the remains of recovered soldiers, by scientists to identify the remains of kings and tsars, and by genealogists to solve genealogical mysteries. The inheritance of mtDNA is always passed down from the Mother to both Male and Female children, however only the female line will continue to pass it on to the next generation.

· Y Chromosomal (Y-DNA) Testing is useful to for examining information and breaking through brick walls you may encounter in your search. For example, if you have men in your family tree that have no identified father, then a Y-DNA test can help solve this mystery. Y Chromosomal DNA is always passed down from Father to Son, if a man only has daughter then the Y chromosome is not passed down to the next generation.

· Autosomal DNA (atDNA) Testing has become one of the most popular tests for Genealogy DNA testing. With over several million people taking this test and being entered into the testing company database, it is easier to search for common ancestors and find genetic matches. atDNA is passed down equally from both the mother and father to the next generation. The results of atDNA are used for two main purposes: ethnicity analysis and cousin matching. Ethnicity estimates given by testing companies attempt to break down your DNA into regional sources.

· X-Chromosomal DNA (X-DNA) Testing is more complicated than other tests as any of your ancestors could have provided a segment of DNA. While there are many ancestors who may have contributed to the X-DNA, they have only a small group of your entire family tree, which means you only have to search that group of your tree for your common ancestor. Both men and women have X-DNA, the mother always passes down an X chromosome to all her children, male or female. A father will only pass down his X chromosome to his daughters.



As with all genealogy research and testing, NOT all research or results are 100% accurate. Every company that provides these Genealogy DNA Tests also state that you will need to consider any ethical restrictions you may have, as well as understand the limitations to the DNA testing.


Some DNA Testing websites also cover any misconceptions there may be. We’ve listed the most common misconceptions in another of our blogs here.


DNA is not a requirement for tracing your ancestors. If you’d like to explore the options of researching records or having a professional genealogy researcher build your tree for you go to our services page https://www.anotherleafgenealogy.com/growing-your-tree to find out what we do.

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