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What is Genetic Genealogy? How it is used in DNA Testing?

Genetic genealogy refers to determining the relationship between two or more people, find their genetic match and ancestry through DNA testing. It is also known as genetic ancestry and helps people learn about their relatives.

Also, examining the DNA helps understand where your ancestors might have come from. The process of genetic genealogy has been around since 1989 but became popular in the 21st century as they are easy to access and affordable.

Any individual can take a DNA test and compare their discoveries with the existing data. FamilyTreeDNA was the first commercial company to offer DNA tests to individuals for genealogical purposes.

Types of Genealogical DNA tests

There are three types of Genealogical DNA tests commonly used for various purposes:

Y chromosome Testing

Patterns of variation in the Y chromosome are used to discover the direct male line of your ancestors. Y chromosome passed from father to son and on the similar patterns as surnames.

With Y chromosome testing, two families with the same surname can determine whether they are related to each other or not. This type of DNA testing can only be done on males. However, a woman can recruit a close male relative to have the test done to find out about her male ancestors.

If it’s a perfect match, then it means the two individuals are closely related to each other or have common paternal ancestors.

Y-chromosome has two types of genetic markers – Y-STR and Y-SNP – on which this test is conducted. For genealogy, it is essential to test both these types to get the best results.

Mitochondrial Testing

Mitochondrial testing helps identify the patterns of genetic variations in the mitochondrial DNA. This type of DNA is passed from the mother to the child, whether male or female, and that is why anyone can take this test.

As opposed to Y chromosome testing, mitochondrial testing tells you about your direct female ancestors. These tests are quite helpful in genealogy as all the information about one’s female ancestors that might have been lost from the records is stored.

The testing reveals the mtDNA haplogroup, the group of people to which the individual’s maternal lineage belongs. And since only a female can pass on the mitochondrial DNA, the results do not show any male ancestors of the individual.

Autosomal Testing

Autosomal DNA testing helps in tracing a person’s autosomal chromosomes that contain segments of DNA that he/she shares with all their relatives, whether paternally or maternally.

Since all human beings have autosomal chromosomes, anyone can take this test no matter to which gender they belong. These tests are equally effective on everyone and do not reveal any information regarding an individual’s haplogroup.

Moreover, Autosomal DNA tests show highly accurate results to confirm the relationship between two or more people. With 100% accuracy, these tests will tell you whether you are a carrier of an inherited condition or have one yourself.

Also, the test identifies the mutations – dominant or recessive – related to these conditions by examining the genes in each autosomal chromosome.

How Genetic Genealogy is used in DNA testing?

You may find certain patterns of genetic variation between two or more people who have a similar background. The closer a person is to another, the higher will be the number of patterns of genetic variations they share.

The procedure for taking a DNA test for genealogical purposes involves collecting DNA from the cells inside the individual’s cheek. It is known as a buccal swab, and you can do it at your home. After taking the sample, you can send it to a genealogy laboratory to conduct further analysis of your DNA.

Traditionally, genetic genealogy was used to build a family tree by finding new individuals related to the family. Today, it is used to learn the identity of an individual using his/her DNA and infer who he/she could be after extensive genealogy research. People often take a DNA test to discover the family members of an adopted child.

Here are the uses of genetic genealogy:

Discovering Ancestors

With DNA tests, you can discover who your ancestors were. Many companies offer these tests and use multiple computer algorithms and calculations to predict the ancestral group an individual belongs to.

Paternal Lineage

You can discover the origins of your paternal lineage with genealogical DNA testing. These tests will reveal the data about the strict paternal line. So, if you want to know whether a person with the same surname as yours is related to you, you can take a genealogical DNA test.

Human Migration

Some genealogical DNA tests also show the migration routes of an individual or his/her ancestors. It is often used to determine when a particular group came to a place the first time and which path did it follow.

Solving Crime

Police can use genealogical testing to track criminals or identify a dead victim. In the past, genetic genealogy has helped law enforcement find so many murderers and offenders. They used databases of several websites to conduct the DNA testing for criminal cases.

However, a lot of websites have now changed their privacy policy that does not allow the police to use their database for solving crime. These websites do not allow law enforcement to use their valuable customers’ data to solve a case unless they have a warrant.

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