How Accurate Is An Ancestry DNA Test?
An ancestry DNA test is a type of test that allow an individual to obtain information on where their ancestors are from, and also the relationships between different families. This is done by examining the variations of DNA between different people using three main methods.
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The first method used is known as the Y-chromosome test. The Y-chromosome is usually what distinguishes males from females. This type of test focuses on the male ancestry line by testing specific locations on the chromosome. If the genetic codes on the locations examined are similar to another male being tested or who is in the database, then that means that they have a common ancestry. If the genetic code is a perfect match or a near-perfect match, then this indicates that the males are closely related. It’s important to note that this type of test can only be done on men. This is because the chromosome and the DNA it contains is directly passed on from father to son with barely any changes on the genetic code.
The second method is the mitochondrial DNA test. The mitochondria are the energy producing structures that are found in all cells, and they contain a small amount of DNA. This DNA is usually passed on from mother to child, and can therefore be used to track down one’s maternal ancestral line. Although the results obtained from this type of DNA test are usually general, they have the advantage of revealing information about one’s female ancestors that may be off record due to how surnames are usually passed down.
The third method and sometimes the most preferred one is known as autosomal DNA testing. This one focuses on all the other chromosomes, other than the ones that determine one’s sex. The DNA contained in these chromosomes contains genetic information from both the maternal and paternal lines. The variations in the genetic code are examined and then compared to different genetic codes in a database. The results obtained from this test usually determine the migration patterns of one’s ancestors, and therefore their geographical and ethnic background. This is because the variations tested are usually what determines an individual’s physical traits, which are what generally indicate where they’re from.
Although the idea of tracing one’s ancestry seems like an exciting one, the accuracy of the results obtained are questionable for a couple of reasons. The first is that different companies use different databases and results from the same type of test may be inconsistent. Moreover, it is said that there is no database big enough to contain all the genetic information required to accurately trace one’s ancestry. Another reason is that the common variations being tested may be shared among several ethnic groups all over the world. The results obtained may therefore be a false lead.
The drawbacks don’t mean that the methods of testing are wrong, it’s just that there isn’t enough information available to be compared. Therefore, if you’re really determined to find out your ancestry, get tested by different DNA testing companies and compare the results. They may be more conclusive.