How Can DNA Tests Help Me With My Family Tree

How Can DNA Tests Help Me With My Family Tree?

There are many avenues to explore when researching your family tree, and genealogical DNA testing is becoming more popular. In addition to traditional records of birth, marriage and death, as well as other historic records, using DNA testing can help you find existing family members and shine a light on some of those unsolved parts of your research. So, what exactly is genealogical DNA testing and how does it help you build your family tree? Let’s find out!

What is genealogical DNA testing?

Humans have evolved to have 46 chromosomes, arranged in a way that is unique to every individual. Females pass on the X chromosome to their children, whereas males pass on both X and Y chromosomes. If a male passes on an X chromosome, their child will be female, whereas if there pass on a Y chromosome, the child will be male. Within the X chromosome from the mother, there are specific cells called mitochondria, and it is this that is looked at when carrying out DNA testing. In addition, the Y chromosome from the father is also studied.

What can I find out from DNA testing?

Studying your DNA can help you find out information about the origins of your lineage, by analysing the genetic markers from your paternal and maternal line. Out of the different populations throughout the world, your DNA test results can show what groups you are most similar to, showing what percentage of your DNA is European, Asian, or African, for example. You can see my ethinicity in the image below.

How Can DNA Tests Help Me With My Family Tree
If you decide to share your DNA result on family tree sharing sites, you may get matches with people who share a proportion of the same DNA, indicating that you are related. Not only does this help you fill in some of the blanks in your research, but you may even get in touch with these relatives, share more information and make new family relationships.

How do I begin my DNA testing?

There are various companies that offer DNA testing for family history and genealogy research. When testing my DNA, I used Autosomal through Ancestry. This meant I could download the raw file and upload it to other sites. So, I uploaded mine to MyHeritage (where my Mum tested) and to FamilyTreeDNA, and GEDmatch. My Dad also tested on Ancestry, and I uploaded his results to these websites too. This is helpful because it means I have both parents on MyHeritage, so I can clearly see whether my matches are paternal or maternal.

I am really pleased with the results because I have now added, or improved, branches of my tree from the DNA matches, and found some distant cousins with whom I now keep in touch.

DNA research is a fascinating way to understand more about your family tree, but sometimes the results can be tricky to interpret. If you are looking for help in understanding your DNA results, or how to use genealogy sites to find matches, then please get in touch!

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