What Is This DNA Stuff and Why Should I Care?
by David R. Neithamer
So, you decided to order one of those commercial DNA kits from Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, 23andMe, or FTDNA and now you’ve gotten the results back. What does it all mean? You see a variety of confusing jargon such as nuDNA, atDNA, mtDNA, Y-DNA, X-DNA, chromosomes, autosomes, genes, mutations, SNPs, STRs, haplogroups, nucleotides, alleles and more and wonder what are they and why are they important? Well, I wondered the same thing and decided to force myself to learn about them by presenting two talks at the Philadelphia AFAOA conference in 2018. Since many of our members may be interested in this topic, I thought I would follow-up the talks with a series of articles, highlighting their content in the AFAOA newsletters with abbreviated versions to pique your interest, and on the website with the full versions to give more detail for those who are interested.
The DNA series will be presented in 8 parts. Part 1 will discuss the basic structure of cells, where DNA is found in the cells, and the structure of DNA itself to provide a better foundational understanding going forward. Part 2 will discuss the actual testing procedures used by the commercial companies to determine your DNA results and how they determine the numbers they report to you. Parts 3-6 will discuss the different types of DNA, their corresponding tests, and the information you can and cannot obtain from the tests. Part 7 will give a summary comparison of the different testing companies and Part 8 will discuss how to upload your results to GEDmatch, an online service to compare autosomal DNA data files from the different testing companies, and search for additional cousin connections. So, here we go!
- Part 1: Cell Structure and DNA
- Part 2: DNA Testing Procedures
- Part 3: MitochondrialDNA (mtDNA) - Maternal Ancestry
- Part 4: Y-Chromosome DNA (Y-DNA) - Paternal/Surname Ancestry
- Part 5: Autosomal DNA (atDNA) - Family Ancestry
- Part 6: X-Chromosome DNA (X-DNA)
- Part 7: Comparison of the Different Testing Companies
- Part 8: How to Upload your Test Results to GEDMatch