DNA testing has become very popular and demand for these tests has been increasing dramatically over the last couple of years and there are no signs of a slow down anytime soon. I know that many people want to take a genealogy DNA test but are not sure which company to use. This post will try to summarize the options available.

The basics

Everyone’s DNA is made up of 23 pairs of chromosomes. 22 of these are known as autosomal chromosomes inherited from both parents and the 23rd are the sex chromosomes. Males have an X and a Y sex chromosome with the Y chromosome inherited from the father and the X chromosome from the mother. Women have two X sex chromosomes, one each inherited from the father and the mother.

There are therefore three types of DNA test:

Y-DNA test

As the Y-chromosome is passed down from father to son, only males can take this test. This test is useful for finding males with the same surname and seeing how and if they are related.

mtDNA test

This test can be used for the maternal lineage as mtDNA (mitochondrial DNA) is only passed by a mother to both male and female children. It can therefore be used to find relatives that share a common maternal ancestor.

Autosomal DNA test.

The autosomal test is the one most commonly used for DNA ancestry. It looks at genetic markers in the 22 non sex chromosome pairs which come from both parents. This test can help verify biological relationships five or six (sometimes more) generations back.

Which company to use?

Before taking a DNA test, I recommend checking the International Society of Genetic Genealogists (ISOGG) website’s wiki pages for the comparison charts for each test. The charts compare what each of the companies offer as well as the size of their databases. Database size is really important as the larger the size, the greater the probability of finding more people with common ancestors. The comparison charts can be found here:

Y-DNA test comparison chart 

mtDNA test comparison chart

Autosomal DNA test comparison chart

The three main DNA testing companies are:

AncestryDNA: Genetic Testing – DNA Test

AncestryDNA only offer an autosomal test, but it is by far the best selling product on the market and they have the largest database so you are more likely to find matches. You can also connect your online Ancestry tree to the results. One other thing to consider is that you are able to download results from AncestryDNA and use with other companies, but you can’t use other companies’ results on Ancestry.

Click here to see it on Amazon

Family Tree DNA Genetic Ancestry Test Kit

As well as an autosomal (family finder) test, Family Tree DNA also offer Y-DNA, and mtDNA tests. They were a pioneer in Y-DNA testing for genealogy and have the largest Y-DNA database. Their autosomal database is smaller than Ancestry’s, but you can add the other tests later without having to submit new samples.

Click here to see it on Amazon

23andMe DNA Test

The other big player in the market is 23andMe. This company focuses on both health and genealogy so may be the right option if you are interested in both. Again, the genealogy test is autosomal and its database is the second largest after Ancestry.

Click here to see it on Amazon

Findmypast DNA Test

Recently launched (November 2018), this new test has been developed with Living DNA which has offered ancestor DNA tests since 2016. Its parent company, the DNA Worldwide Group has been in operation since 2004. This test focuses on the British Isles, so if you have British or Irish ancestry, knowing the specific region your DNA usually originates from can help with your research. This is especially useful in Ireland where so many valuable genealogical records have been lost.

Click here to see it on Findmypast

Findmypast DNA. Bespoke Genealogy

For more in depth reading on genetic genealogy, check out this book:

Click here to see it on Amazon

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Which DNA test for Genealogy? Bespoke Genealogy
Which DNA test. Bespoke Genealogy