The building block on which our body is built is referred to as DNA. All the cells in a human body have the same DNA that gives individuals instructions to function. We inherit DNA from both parents, with 50% of our mother and 50% from our father.
DNA plays a massive part in genealogy research. It acts as evidence of our generational heritage and has important insights into our ancestry.
What is DNA Testing
DNA testing is an accurate and advanced technology that involves analyzing specific DNA parts that carry valuable information. Approximately 26 million people have had their DNA taken for ancestry research. Having a DNA test done will identify particular locations of a persons’ genome to establish accurate information about:
- Familial relationships
- Ethnic background
- Migration patterns
What is DNA Ancestry
People often urge to understand their family history beyond what they have learned from their relatives or through historical documents. In this case, DNA genetic testing will give crucial information based on a person’s family history.
Types of DNA Testing
There are different types of DNA tests. The choice of DNA depends on what the testing aims to uncover or the overall cost implications. The prices vary between different methods.
SNP stands for single nucleotide polymorphism that shows sites in which DNA changes by a single base. It is a common analysis in the direct-to-consumer market.
Certain SNPs are used to predict an individuals’ special features, such as variants associated with heart disease or their ethnic background.
Since the Y chromosome is only present in males, this test can only be taken by a male. It analyses sequences of the Y chromosome to determine a male lineage. It can reach as far as five or six generations back.
A Y-DNA will give accurate results on paternal haplogroups, surname history, ethnicity, and close matches. The Y-DNA would be ideal for testing for a father in question.
3. MtDNA Analysis
Males or females can carry out the mitochondrial analysis (mtDNA) test. However, it mostly specializes in a mother’s maternal background. The Mitochondria organelles are small and present inside every cell. Their genome is relatively small.
Since the egg is larger than a sperm, it may contain more mitochondria. After combining the egg and sperm, the sperm contributes to so little of the combined mitochondria when degraded, leaving you with the maternal mitochondria.
To effectively trace your mothers’ side ancestry, a maternal DNA variation would be more accurate.
How is Genetic Testing Done?
Multiple extractions are made possible by the availability of DNA present in all your body cells. Experts carry out genetic tests using samples of hair, saliva, blood, amniotic fluid, skin, and other tissues.
Most people who opt for at-home DNA kits use a swab for saliva collection; this is simpler and convenient.
Most people use blood and saliva samples because they are easily accessible. The results should take days to several weeks to process, depending on the company’s timelines.
DNA Tests with Saliva
Saliva comes from the mouth’s inner lining and white blood cells, and it is easier to extract saliva samples from anyone, including a newborn child. DNA experts use saliva from the collection tube to gather facts, especially for forensic purposes such as rape and assault cases. Another factor that makes saliva so useful for testing is because DNA lasts for two days in your saliva.
DNA Tests with Cheek Swab
When using cheek swabs, you collect cells inside your cheeks with a cotton swab instead of spitting on a tube.
This type of DNA helps to establish maternity or paternity issues and for forensic purposes.
DNA Tests with Blood
Doctors prefer using blood test tubes for comprehensive tests. Most maternity and paternity issues are made possible through blood testing.
Pregnant women also carry out blood testing, but the results may not be accurate because fetal DNA in mothers depends on body weight.
DNA Tests with Nails
In cases where options are limited, experts use DNA samples from a person’s toenails or fingernails. Especially in forensics, when they want to gather information from a person’s remains.
DNA Using Hair
The hair that hasn’t come out of the scalp contains active DNA compared to hair follicles. However, hair samples don’t carry as many DNA samples as compared to blood or saliva samples.
In forensic testing, hair samples help investigators track a person at the scene of a crime.
What are the Benefits of Genetic Testing?
- It is the most proven way to acquire an accurate diagnosis and avoid clinical investigations.
- An accurate diagnosis provides a sense of relief to families and patients searching for an answer to their family member’s origin for a long time.
- Genetic testing results can help with future family planning.
- Some genetic diseases require early intervention to save the involved peoples’ lives.
- Genetic testing can give clinicians guidelines on choosing a suitable therapy and patients’ support.
- Establishing your genetic variant helps you understand your risks for various health conditions more.
- When you are aware of your genital background, you can exercise and plan your diet according to your limitations and potentials.
Who Do you Need Genetic Testing?
If you want to determine whether two people are related biologically, DNA profiling is carried out. DNA helps with matters of child support, custody, and other related issues.
As an adopted child, you may come across someone who looks like you or shares the same name as you do. In such a situation, adoptees and parents look for DNA testing to confirm their doubts.
DNA results may find a relative, which is a good starting point in the quest to find your biological family. These tests aim to link family members together or clear doubt involving a child between a married couple.
The more people submit samples for testing, the more scientists can build knowledge on DNA concerning ancestry and ethnic groups. In the future, individuals can bring all these samples and reports together to help scientists worldwide understand how different populations through history have managed to rise, migrate and mix amongst each other.