Everybody seems to be talking about DNA testing now but what does it all mean?
Is it the magic test that suddenly finds all your ancestors?
And just what do all those words mean? Who do you test? Which company? How much?
It does not replace the traditional research we know and love, however it can be a valuable tool to help in your research.
Basically there are three types of tests: Y-DNA, mt-DNA and at-DNA. The three tests are used for different purposes and a basic descriptions of each is below.
YDNA is the one most people have heard of as it is the one restricted to the male line. It is used to track back along the father’s father’s line and in our traditional English speaking countries this also follows the male surname and is often used for One Name studies.
mtDNA is mitochondrial DNA testing and it follows the mother’s mother’s line which means you get a change of surname each generation, so for me it is:
Busby – Weeks – Rollason – Evans – Jelley – Robinson – Carter
This line consists entirely of women, although both men and women have their mother’s mtDNA but the man does not pass on his mother’s mtDNA to his children. Often this test does not help a lot genealogically as a good match could potentially match an ancestor anytime in the recent past to hundreds or even thousands of years in the past. It can however be a very useful test to prove/disprove a theory.
The third test can be taken by both males and females and is the newest of the tests.
It is the autosomal or atDNA test. It is designed to find relatives on any of your lines back approximately five generations. It works on the principle you inherit roughly 50% of your DNA from each of your parents, approx. 25% from each of your grandparents, 12.5% from your great grandparents etc. This is a simplistic explanation but this test can be very useful and in fact Family Tree DNA call it the “Family Finder” test. This is also the only type of test that Ancestry now sells and it is expected that Ancestry will have this test available to Australians some time in 2015.
If this has whetted your interest or you have further questions about how DNA testing could be used in YOUR genealogy why not come along to our inaugural meeting on May 24 as GSQ is starting its own DNA Special Interest Group.
Everybody is welcome, no matter whether you are very experienced in DNA testing or just starting to explore what this new tool might do.
Doors to 38 Fisher Street East Brisbane will open at 10.00am and the meeting will start at 10.30am.