What Is DNA Genealogy? A Genetic Link

Overview Genetic Genealogy

DNA genealogy is the inference of genetic links between people using genealogical DNA assays, such as DNA profiling and DNA testing, in conjunction with conventional genealogical techniques. Family historians started using this genetic method in the twenty-first century as DNA tests became more widely available and less expensive. Amateur organizations like surname study groups or local genealogy organizations, as well as scholarly initiatives like the Genographic Project, have encouraged the tests. About 30 million people had undergone testing as of 2019. As science matured, so did practitioners’ goals; many now want to learn about their lineage before the nineteenth century, for which conventional pedigrees could be created.

DNA Genealogy History

George Darwin, the son of Charles Darwin and his first cousin Emma Darwin, is credited with starting the study of surnames in genetics. The phrase “genetic genealogy” was first used on February 20, 1989, in Tom Siegfried’s article “DNA genealogy and the search for ‘Eve'” in the Dallas Morning News. “In the past, scientists tried to turn out the fossil evidence which are preserved in prehistoric rocks. At the same time, they were trying to identify the ancestors of the human race. Of course, genetics has long been understood to contain a record of our ancestry for each of us. Just that it has been simpler to read the record in the rocks. However, DNA genealogy experts have recently discovered ways to look for the mother from whom we are all derived. She is frequently referred to as Eve.

genwed dna

The following instance was when Helene Cincebeaux spoke about “Genetic Genealogy” at the Federation of East European Family History Societies meeting in Minneapolis in June 1996. An online article titled “An introduction to genetic genealogy” by the genealogist Alan Savin, who started the first surname project by a genealogy hobbyist in 1997 was the first to use the term in relation to a surname DNA project. This was published on November 9, 1998.

A Genealogical DNA Test and its Types


                                              Genealogical DNA test

Autosomal (atDNA) Determine close relatives and even go several generations back to determine the most common ancestry
Mitochondrial (mtDNA) Saves information about female ancestors
Y-DNA Helps in the determination of common paternal ancestors

A genealogical DNA test is a DNA-based procedure that is used in DNA genealogy to examine particular regions of a person’s genome in order to identify or confirm ancestral genealogical ties or, less reliably, to estimate their ethnic background. Due to the use of several ethnic reference groups and matching algorithms by various testing businesses, estimations of a person’s ethnicity might vary significantly between tests. One can go for ancestry.com for these tests.
There are three main categories of genealogical DNA tests: autosomal (atDNA), mitochondrial (mtDNA), and Y-DNA. Each type examines a different region of the genome and is helpful for various types of genealogical research.

  • Autosomal (atDNA)

Numerous DNA matches to boys and females who also underwent autosomal testing with the same provider may be discovered. Each match will often indicate how closely connected they are, such as whether they are a close family match, first or second cousins, third or fourth cousins, etc. The “6th-cousin or farther” level is often the one with the closest degree of kinship. Precise relationship conclusions, however, can only be drawn for close relatives due to the random manner of which, and how much, DNA is acquired by each examined person from their related species. The results must normally be interpreted using conventional genealogical research and the sharing of family trees. Estimating the ethnic mix also uses autosomal tests.

  • Y-DNA and mtDNA

Much more objective assays include Y-DNA and mtDNA. However, because they are restricted to ties along a specific female line and a specific male line, respectively, they provide significantly fewer DNA similarities, if any at all (depending on the business performing the testing). Archeological cultures and migratory routes of a person’s predecessors along a specific mother’s line or a specific father’s line are determined by MtDNA and Y-DNA tests. It is possible to determine a person’s haplogroup(s) using MtDNA and Y-DNA. Because everyone receives their mtDNA from their mother and because the mitochondrial DNA is found in the egg cell, both men and women can take the mtDNA test.
However, as only males possess a Y-chromosome, a Y-DNA test can only be completed by a guy.

Ethnic And Biogeographical Origins

Additional DNA testing for biogeographical and ethnic ancestry are available, although these tests are less useful for traditional genealogy.

Typical Interest Groups and Customers

Despite being unable to employ traditional genealogical methods, groups of people can now trace their history thanks to genetic genealogy. This could be as a result of the fact that they are unaware of one or both of their biological parents or because traditional genealogy records have been lost, destroyed, or never existed. Adoptees, Holocaust survivors, foundlings, GI babies, orphan train descendants, child migrants, and people of slave lineage are a few of these groups.

Ethnicity From Photo

Benefits of DNA genealogy

DNA genealogy provides a way for genealogists to double-check or add data from DNA testing to their genealogy findings. A positive test result for a different person may:

  • Suggest areas for more genealogy study,
  • Confirm previous findings, and
  • Demonstrate a connection between two surname variants to help identify the ancestral home
  • Find living relatives to validate or refute any family connections
  • Substantiate or refute theories about the ancestry

Drawbacks of DNA Genealogy

One of the following issues may be raised by those who object to testing:

  • High Cost
  • the quality of the tests
  • concern regarding difficulties with privacy
  • ethnic identity is lost
  • Finally, just one bloodline (one’s mother’s mother’s mother’s lineage or one’s father’s father’s father’s lineage)

may be traced using Y-DNA and mtDNA tests, respectively. An individual has up to 1024 distinct ancestors at ten generations back (less if ancestral cousins interbred), and a Y-DNA or mtDNA test only examines one of those ancestors, along with their descendants and siblings (same-sexed siblings for Y-DNA or all siblings for mtDNA). Most genealogists, however, stay in touch with a large number of cousins (first, second, third, etc., with various surnames) whose Y-DNA and mtDNA are different, and who can be persuaded to undergo testing in order to uncover more ancestral DNA lineages.

Read More:

Eastern European Descent: Here’s What It Means!
What Is A Fifth Cousin?
How Does A Home DNA Test Work?