Kiwi Lineage Finder

David A. Jack, MSc, QG


Types of DNA testing

Most of the advertising hype that is currently presented to you is about autosomal DNA (atDNA) testing. Other tests include Y Chromosome testing on males only (yDNA), and Mitocondrial DNA testing (mtDNA).

Y-chromosome DNA (yDNA) tests the direct Paternal line. All males inherit a y-chromosome from their father, through his father, his father, his father, and so on the direct paternal line.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) tests the direct Maternal line. Everyone inherits mitochondrial DNA from their mother, through her mother, her mother, her mother, and so on down the direct maternal line.

Autosomal DNA (atDNA) tests all ancestral lines.
Autosomal DNA is inherited from all ancestral lines, so anyone can be tested and your matches may descend from anyone on your pedigree chart, up to about 5-7 generations back (but may be further).

Once you have decided to take a DNA test as part of your family history research, and you have worked out which test type you wish to take, it is now important to consider which DNA testing company you would like to use.

Which DNA testing company should I use?

There are currently five major DNA testing companies for genealogy - Family Tree DNA, 23andMe, AncestryDNA, MyHeritageDNA and Living DNA.

Family Tree DNA (FTDNA) is very popular for testers from both Australia and here in New Zealand, as it offers a large international database, sells all test types, is very affordable, requires no ongoing subscription, hosts thousands of surname and geographical projects, and provides easy analysis tools, and offers a Free Autosomal Data Transfer from AncestryDNA™, 23andMe© or MyHeritage™. As a qualified genealogist, FTDNA is my preferred testing company.

23andMe also has a large database, although testers using this service are generally more health-focused rather than interested in genealogy. It has some great analysis tools and highly-regarded ethnicity results, but its compulsory international shipping makes it very expensive for Australians and New Zealanders.

AncestryDNA reported that more than seven million customers had purchased the test by February 2018 worldwide. At a cost, Ancestry's huge collection of member trees can be linked to DNA results to help identify relatives through Shared Ancestor Hints. Their selection of tools is wanting, such as no chromosome browser, but you do get access to the biggest database. Once tested, your RAW data files can be downloaded and moved to FTDNA's autosomal upload or 3rd party site such as GEDmatch.

MyHeritageDNA is a reasonably new company to DNA testing, so its database is reasonably small at 2.6 million profiles. It was recently reported that MyHeritage had 40 million family trees on its website. MyHeritageDNA offer a very handy phone app to keep your eye on new DNA matches.

Living DNA is a new test that breaks down your ancestry into 80 worldwide regions, including 21 British regions. Irish, German and Scottish regions will be added soon (existing results will be updated). Living DNA does not have a matching database, but is planning to add one soon.

GEDmatch is a 3rd party site with a fantastic range of tools to assist in your autosomal dna evaluation. It allows multiple uploads of atDNA files that you may be managing, GED file upload and has a Tier 1 utilities section for $10 month which has a great set of advanced tools.

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