5 Things You Need to Know About DNA Testing for Genealogy

DNA is an unimaginable device for our family tree and it’s extra accessible than ever earlier than. However earlier than you mail off your spit or persuade a relative to ship theirs, there are some issues you must find out about DNA testing for family tree.

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1. Not Everybody Takes a DNA Check for the Matches

Simply since you and I’d take a DNA take a look at to search out genetic cousins doesn’t imply that everybody else does. Many individuals simply need the ethnicity estimate. Now, earlier than you go placing the unhealthy mouth on them, do not forget that DNA is a superb gateway into the larger world of family tree. Simply because somebody doesn’t need to join with cousins now doesn’t imply that she or he received’t need to in a couple of weeks or months. Sure, it’s irritating when a close match doesn’t reply to your messages, however attempt to remember that they won’t have an interest.

2. It’s an Ethnicity Estimate

To say that the pie chart or map that you just get of your ethnicity isn’t precise can be an understatement. It’s known as an “estimate” for a purpose. As genetic genealogist Blaine Bettinger identified in an interview I did with him, the ethnicity estimate is good on the continent level; getting right down to the nation or area is rather more problematic.

AncestryDNA Ethnicity Estimate

My outdated ethnicity estimate on AncestryDNA.

The issue is that the estimates are constructed round dwelling individuals who can hint their lineage in a sure location for a whole lot of years. AncestryDNA’s ethnicity estimates are built around reference panels, which complete 56,000 individuals. There’s certain to be some variance.

Backside line: simply because my AncestryDNA ethnicity estimate says that I’m 19% Scandinavian doesn’t imply that I’m going to be rooting for Denmark, Norway, and Sweden 1/5 of the time in the course of the Winter Olympics.

3. The Ethnicity Estimate Would possibly Not Match Paper Analysis (AKA “Why Isn’t My Native American DNA Displaying Up?”)

Not solely is the ethnicity estimate an estimate, we have to do not forget that it represents our ethnicity waaaaaaay again. Living proof is my reported 19% Scandinavian DNA. I haven’t discovered a single ancestor who comes from Scandinavia. Nonetheless, I’m additionally 45% Irish/Scottish/Welsh and 22% British, which is in keeping with what I’ve present in my analysis.  When you think about the invasions from Scandinavia into what’s now Eire and the UK, that Scandinavian DNA makes some sense. 

But it surely additionally cuts each methods. Ethnicity won’t present up even when confirmed by “conventional” analysis strategies. “I do know my great-great-grandmother was Native American. Why didn’t it present up on my ethnicity estimate?” In case your great-great-grandma’s line is the one Native American line that you’ve got, not sufficient of her DNA may need made it right down to you to indicate up within the ethnicity estimate. It doesn’t imply that you just’re not half Native American; it simply signifies that the a part of the DNA that might have recognized it didn’t get handed down. 

(Additionally, remember that a photograph of your ancestor displaying excessive cheekbones and darkish hair does NOT show that she or he was Native American.)

4. Siblings’ Outcomes Can Be Totally different

Talking of issues getting handed down, bear in mind in biology class once you realized that you just get half of your DNA out of your mom and half out of your father? It’s true to your siblings, too… however they didn’t get the identical half that you just did. (Give it some thought — for those who and your siblings every bought the identical 50% DNA from every mum or dad, you’d be similar.)

That’s why siblings’ outcomes could be (and often are) completely different, each in ethnicity estimates and within the genetic matches. Sure, you’re siblings. Sure, you bought your DNA from the identical mother and father. However precisely which items of DNA you every inherited is completely different. It’s these variations that may imply your estimates are completely different and your matches are completely different.

5. There Can Be Surprises

That is a very powerful factor to recollect.

It’s essential to do not forget that DNA can result in shocking outcomes. Are you ready if it reveals that you’ve got a half-sibling or an aunt or uncle that you just didn’t find out about? What if your sibling’s test is so different that it turns out you’re only half-siblings (or not biologically related at all)? As Judy Russell identified, we merely must consider the ethics of genetic genealogy. We should take into account knowledgeable consent earlier than we’ve a relative take a take a look at and we can’t bully individuals into speaking with us. 

And for those who suppose, “Oh, these surprises don’t change something,” listen to Jenny’s experience when she learned that her Dad wasn’t her biological father.



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