The DNA test results for a family member have just come in and we’re amazed at the results.

A few years ago, although I’d never considered it, I would have been wary of taking a DNA test. Because of the convincing security measures taken by the well-known testing services, there is probably more danger lurking in some of the social media websites—you know the ones I’m talking about.

If you’ve been doing some research you will likely know by now that DNA code holds the genetic code for everyone.

Most tests today focus on Y-DNA (paternal) and mtDNA (maternal) inherited down through family generations. However, if  you hit a brick wall in your genealogy and research you might want to consider Austosomal DNA testing.

In the nucleus of each cell there are 23 pairs of chromosomes. Of these matched pairs, there are 22 autosomes with the 23rd pair determining whether you’re male or female.

Autosomal DNA can be the solution to breaking down that brick wall that has brought your ancestral research to a grinding halt. This type of DNA is inherited from both parents and includes contingent contributions from parents, grandparents, back through at least 5 generations.  This would be ones Great- Great Grandparents.  It’s apparently possible to find connections to all sixteen of your great-great-grandparents—that’s a lot of people.

There is some criticism of autosomal testing and, according to a recent article in the March/April 2011 edition of “Family Chronicle”, some scientists believe that this approach is “untested and unproved”.  The article cited a “Science” article in 2007 titled “The Science and the Business of Ancestry Testing”. In addition others believe that there is no accepted scientific standard for the use of autosomal DNA in determining genealogy.

Nevertheless, a lot of experts believe that when “done properly autosomal testing is both reliable and valid”. This type of evaluation is relatively new so there are bound to be more progress in the near future.

For further personal research I’ve listed below several websites that offer information on DNA testing that includes information on Autosomal DNA:

DNA Testing Advisor: This site is owned and operated by Richard Hill. It offers commonsense advice and instruction, as well as, Richard’s own personal story on how he found his birth father through DNA testing with a very happy outcome. You can learn a lot of commonsense and easy to understand information from this site.

23andMe: Is a well-known site and offers clear and concise details of their Autosomal DNA processing. Their genotyping technology is referred to as a BeadChip and 23andMe explains that  although the process relies heavily on massive computer power, the chip itself is not a microprocessor but a miniaturized genetics lab. They do claim to be able to go back 8 generations and, from what I’ve researched, 5 generations is more realistic. I also don’t know the size of their database of participants. It’s a fascinating site to visit and consider for any future testing.

FamilyTreeDNA: Is probably the best-known site offering DNA testing. They offer a Family Finder test that is used together with the Y-DNA and mtDNA test to find connections to descendants of all 16 of your great-great grandparents.  There’s a couple of short videos you can watch that explain the potential of the connections you can find as well how matching blocks of DNA identify your genetic cousins. They also explain that for the Family Finder tests only autosomal results from their microarray chip are used.




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3 Comments on Autosomal DNA testing could break down those genealogical brick walls

  1. Patsy G. says:

    Thanks for this post. I plan to visit all the sites you suggested. DNA for genealogy is big business these days.

  2. Sarah S. says:

    Big business but worth it to family history researchers. I need to learn more about the reliability of autosomal before I take the plunge.

  3. John Walker says:

    Thanks for this write-up it’s all fascinating and, as time passes, less scary to participate.

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