Your eyes are from your father, you have mum’s hair and your grandma’s stubborn personality. Our ancestry can tell us a lot about how we look, and the way we behave. But, what if you don’t know where you come from? There can be physical and psychological implications if we aren’t sure of our genetic background. This is where DNA testing can prove beneficial. Not knowing where you come from can result in a loss of identity and affect your self-esteem. If DNA testing is the answer, how does it work?
What is a Genetic DNA Test?
DNA testing is sciences tools to answer many questions. The biggest use it has to confirm an identity using genetic codes. Every person has their own complete set of DNA and it’s in each cell of the body. Our genes define both our physical characteristics and our personality.
There are three main types of DNA testing:
Parental testing is for both paternity and maternity tests. They can determine whether someone is a biological parent.
Genetic testing determines bloodlines and can highlight whether an individual is likely to inherit a hereditary disease.
Forensic testing is used by law enforcement to determine whether a person has committed a crime. It involves testing hair and bodily fluids found on a victim and comparing it to a suspect’s DNA.
The testing process is complex and intricate. Scientists take the genetic code from hair, saliva, blood and other bodily fluids and look for similarities in two biological samples. The process is so complicated because 99.9% of every person’s DNA is identical. It’s the 0.1% that makes each of us unique. Law enforcement agencies use their own scientists to conduct forensic DNA tests, but many companies offer a DNA genetic testing kit for individuals.
Do I Need a Genetic Testing Kit?
Here’s where it gets complicated. There are loads of DNA testing kits and they’ve become a popular holiday gift! You can even get a DNA test for your dog (seriously). So if you’re thinking about ethnicity and genealogical DNA testing, here are the kits available:
Autosomal testing is the most common form of DNA test and is the “Family Finder”. The tests measure 22 pairs of chromosomes to determine your ethnicity and genetic traits such as hereditary illnesses and eye colour. It can link you to distant relatives and show your ethnic mix. There are two other personal genetic testing kits that give you a more in-depth look at your ethnicity. Both include autosomal testing.
Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA) traces your maternal lineage. This is the DNA passed from mother to child and your direct maternal line can be traced back very far.
Males use Y-DNA testing to trace their father’s lineage. It shows the DNA strands passed from father to son, so females cannot use this testing option.
The main difference between autosomal testing and the more in-depth tests is how far they can be traced back. Autosomal testing goes back 5 or 8 generations while the other tests can trace back to 100 generations. The two reasons people use genetic testing laboratories is to discover their ethnicity and ancestry.
If you want to discover who your grandparents or great grandparents were then you need a genetic test to determine ancestry. It can link you to lost relatives and give you insights about which relatives you might take after. Y-DNA and mtDNA testing are great choices if you want an in-depth look at your bloodline. If you’re a female, then you’ll need a male relative to take the Y-DNA test.
We often hear people saying they have a European background, or a small amount of DNA from an exotic land, but do they? Genetic DNA testing shows you which cultural groups you come from. It can give you an idea of which backgrounds your DNA is made of. For example, your DNA might comprise 50% English, 30% French and 20% Irish.
There are many more types of test – you can view the A-Z here.
Genetic Testing Companies
There are loads of genetic testing companies around, but some might not be reputable. You need to consider which offers the best test for your needs as well as how fast they will complete the test. Not all genetic testing labs are equal, so here are some of the best.
If you want to find your genetic heritage, testing is available at Ancestry. The company sends out a testing kit and within several weeks the information is uploaded to your online profile. However, they don’t test for medical issues and you won’t get deep ancestral data.
If you’re looking for detailed genetic heritage testing, then Living DNA is a great choice. They offer a genetic lineage test which can go back thousands of years. You can also build your family tree and network.
This is the ultimate ethnicity testing kit, and it goes back up to 200,000 years. Look at the migration patterns of your ancient ancestors from Africa and find out about your history. You’ll also get a map to show you the migration patterns.
Looking for paternity genetic testing? Pro Paternity offers you a home testing kit with fast results. Send off a hair, saliva, blood or sperm sample and check the paternity of your child. It’s a simple test but 99.99% accurate.
The Genetic Testing Cost For Ancestry and Ethnicity
The best thing about DNA testing kits is they are suitable for all budgets. The cost depends on what test you’re looking for and how in-depth you want your genetic ancestry test to be. General tests from Ancestry.com cost around £79 but a detailed ethnicity test can go up to £199. Pro Paternity even offer a free saliva paternity test, so there are some fantastic options out there.
Legal DNA Tests are necessary if you need admissible court results. You can find accredited laboratories at the Ministry of Justice website. Costs for these tests can go up to £365 so you should consider if you really need a legal DNA test.
Remember, when it comes to DNA testing there are loads of options. We’re here to give you the best information and guide you through the process of finding who you are and where you came from.