So you want to take an AncestryDNA test to gain a more complete story of your genetic makeup.
With advances in modern technology, it’s easier than ever to gain insights from your DNA.
Here’s a five-point primer that maps out some facts you need to know.
1. What DNA tests are available?
Technically, you have several options:
- Y chromosome (Y-DNA) test: This test only explores a man’s “patrilineal” or direct father’s-line ancestry.
- Mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA test): This test tracks your matrilineal or mother’s-line heritage using the DNA in the cellular powerhouses known as mitochondria. Whereas the Y-DNA test is for men only, an mtDNA test can be taken by women as well.
- Autosomal DNA test: Unlike a Y-DNA or mtDNA test, which only focus on one line of your family tree, an autosomal DNA test has the power to trace all of your family lines. Both men and women can take this test.
Ancestry runs an autosomal DNA test. All you have to do is supply a saliva sample that goes into an AncestryDNA test kit tube for analysis.
2. Are there any privacy risks?
Privacy is a question that arises for many consumers considering genetic testing.
AncestryDNA does not claim ownership rights in the DNA that is submitted for testing. You own your DNA.
For more information, check out Ancestry’s privacy center.
3. How in-depth is my ethnicity estimate?
The details of an ethnicity estimate, such as the regions included, vary by testing company.
Ancestry measures your DNA at about 700,000 locations across your genome, then takes the data and uses two different methods to find out where your ancestors came from.
In the first, Ancestry compares your DNA to the genetic data from populations in 26 globally distributed regions. The result is an “ethnicity estimate” which breaks down your ethnic mix into percentages by each of 26 world regions.
In the second method, Ancestry uses a combination of DNA and family history data to uncover additional populations you might be linked to. To date, Ancestry has identified over 300 of these additional regions and migrations (groups of AncestryDNA test takers who are connected through DNA, most likely because they descend from a population of common ancestors).
Your results may also include some of these. Your ethnicity results will be unique to you: even full siblings may have different ethnicity estimates.
4. How do other people’s test results relate to mine?
In addition to telling you more about yourself, genetic testing can tell you more about how you relate to others.
To give you even more insights into your family story, Ancestry compares your DNA to that of everyone else’s in their database, which now has almost 10 million test takers.
Depending on how much DNA you share with any given person in the AncestryDNA database, Ancestry estimates a possible relationship. You might be matched up to anyone from a parent to a distant cousin.
These possible relatives, or “DNA matches,” are listed on your AncestryDNA test results. They could live down the street or around the world.
As Ancestry has the largest consumer DNA database with people from across the globe, you have a higher chance of finding people who might be related to you than with other DNA tests.
With the click of a button, you can message them or view their publicly shared family trees, to learn more about your shared past.
A long-lost cousin might share a photo of your great grandmother in her wedding dress or a war letter from your great grandfather. They might even invite you to visit when you’re in their part of the country – or visiting their town overseas.
5. How much scope is there for further exploration?
Plenty. The data-based discoveries tying you to specific regions of the world will give you a reason to join the growing trend of heritage travel.
Or you might use your newly discovered ethnic roots as inspiration for cooking. Does your ethnicity estimate show you’re 9% Nigerian? Try making some Jollof rice. 42% British? Try whipping up some British desserts. And so on.
For still more context, you can opt into studies that use anonymized, aggregate data, which heightens our knowledge of our shared pasts. Your DNA might, for example, help scientists create a big picture map showing America’s great migrations, showing the echoes of our pioneer ancestors in our genes today.
Inspiration is limitless with AncestryDNA. Your sense of where you come from and who you are may never be the same.
Are you ready to discover your unique DNA story?