DNA Testing for Genealogy

They say curiosity killed the cat, but that hasn’t stopped me being curious as to the world of DNA testing particularly in the remit of genealogy.

DNA testing seems complex and I am still unsure how to read the results or just quite what to expect from it all but there is a way to find out and that’s by taking the plunge, doing a test and exploring the results.

There seem to be three main types of DNA testing being offered:



Family Finder / Autosomal 

Whilst the Autosomal / Family Finder tests are wider ranging and less specific in respect of lineage, they do help us find our ethnicity and wider family members which is always a bonus for us researchers.

The Y DNA test is the one that all genealogists are in to, as that is the paternal line finder. There are various levels of testing/matching known as markers.  The lower/cheaper tests, test for fewer with the upgraded/more expensive tests, looking at more markers and hence a wider data set. Shame it only works on males as it means I now need to rope in other family members.

The MtDNA test can be taken by both genders and traces the maternal line.

The family DNA project for Bain requires the Y DNA hence the reason I need dad’s assistance with this part.  The kit is here, just awaiting on dad returning from holiday and we can get on with this.  Initially I have gone for one of the lower markers to see where this takes us, although no doubt I may wish to upgrade this in future if the results prove fruitful.

I thought I had ordered the MtDNA for myself to take but must have changed my mind at the order stage as when I double checked it was actually the family finder one I had ordered. In hindsight the main reason for this was I didn’t want to be provided with tons of info on the maternal side I haven’t started to research yet. I was also curious about the family finder and ethnicity tests as I have been tempted by the ancestry one before even more so since reading a few blogs about the results other researchers have had.

The kit arrived and was relatively easy to administer, just wait an hour or so after eating and drinking, open up the swab, swirl around inside cheek/mouth for 60 seconds or so, break the end of the swab and leave the used/swabbed end in the little vial then same again on other side.  That’s it just over a minute and its all done, sealed back in envelope and ready to be posted back for the analysis.


DNA Testing Kit

These go back to the US so it may be a while before I get the results myself, let alone post about them but I will do once I have the info.

In the meantime I would love to hear if any of you have any of you taken any of the DNA tests available?  Are you members of the Bain DNA project?  Have you taken the ancestry test to find your ethnicity?  Please do let us know how you got on.





2 responses to “DNA Testing for Genealogy

  1. Hi Victoria. Good one on taking the plunge.
    The more you delve into the world of Y-DNA the more interesting it can become. For genealogy it can be very useful. In my case, many years of research will be answered in about 4 weeks. Via military research, I know where and when my ancestor was born but not the names of his parents. A descendant of the family I believe he belonged to has taken the Y-DNA test and the results will be posted mid June.
    There results will be posted as a string of numbers known as STRs or ‘Short Tandem Repeats’. If his string of numbers are near to the same as mine then some further testing for what is known as SNiPs (SNP = single nucleotide polymorphism) will be undertaken. Y-DNA is only passed from father to son and to there son and so on etc. About every 3 or 4 generations or so we men folk have a wee mutation in our Y-DNA strand. That mutation is the SNiP and it is because of those SNiPs that we are able trace the Y-DNA ancestry of Man either back many millennia or forward to now. Y-DNA is only useful for those purposes and is otherwise regarded as junk DNA.
    The results i am waiting for mean that (1) if they do not match, my most distant known ancestor (MDKA) starts and ends in 1833, no more research will be undertaken. (2) If it is a match, I will be merging family trees etc.
    Fingers crossed,
    Regards Richard


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