DNA tests have gained popularity in recent years, and rightfully so! There are many uses that DNA tests can be used for. Many people use testing to build family trees, discover unknown heritage, and resolve parental disputes. Considering a DNA test? Read on to discover some of the different methods used by providers in the marketplace.

Y-DNA Tests

A Y-DNA test is a type of DNA testing done solely for determining paternal lineage. Y-DNA testing uses the pedigree of the y-chromosome to match up males that share the same markers. As only males possess the y-chromosome this test can only be taken by males to help determine which paternal line they descend from.

Why is this? Basically all males inherit Y-DNA from their father, who inherited their father’s, and so on down the line. This test is useful for surname projects and paternity tests, but can’t specify the actual relation between matches, only that they fit onto the direct parental line.

Mitochondrial DNA Tests

Mitochondrial testing is used for testing the female line of ancestry. Like Y-DNA tests it only traces a small portion of your ancestral lineage, only this time on the mother’s side, as the mitochondria in your DNA are only passed down from the mother’s egg. Unlike Y-DNA anyone can be mtDNA tested as both male and female children have their mother’s mitochondria passed onto them. Both mitochondrial and Y-DNA tests trace back hundreds if not thousands of years due to the extremely slow rate that the DNA strands change over time. You can trace your haplogroup – a group of people with a shared ancestor – back to a specific region on both male and female sides of your family.

Autosomal Tests

These are a common type of DNA test. This test looks at what is inherited from both parents and is used to determine a more detailed ethnicity background based on the references collected by the test sample company. For example, Ancestry.com uses this type of test.

This is the method you may have seen advertised on TV or undertaken yourself to help build your family tree. It is a popular way of finding lost relatives, especially if you have a small family, or lack knowledge of your grandparents. Many people use this test to greater their knowledge of where they came from, so you may find others who are building on the same family lines, and can pool your findings to broaden the tree further.

Direct Family Tests

Lesser used forms of testing can be performed for a more immediate family connection. While not as useful in the broad scape of building an entire heritage, testing for sibling, parental and grandparent DNA will yield results to prove a biological connection between individuals. Sibling testing is worth doing to confirm you are related to a person when you suspect you were separated at an early age. If someone has lost both parents, a grandparent may need to prove biologically that they are related to establish custody of a child. These tests can bring immediate family together in the knowledge that they are biologically related.

In Summary

Whatever your goal is for finding family, one of these tests will enable you to know who you are related to, or where your family lines originate from. Genealogy is a fascinating subject to investigate for whatever purpose.