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a DNA Study good
Basically, it can help bridge the gaps where paper records just do not exist. It can also reinforce the evidence from paper records in cases where they are ambivalent. Sometimes, it can come up with surprises, showing links exist where they were totally unexpected.
How does it work?
All men carry a Y chromosome, inherited directly from their father. Modern techniques can look at patterns in the chemical structure of this single chromosome, and reduce those patterns to a simple set of numbers (technically repeats of the same chemical structure along the chain - short tandem repeats or STRs).
Essentially, this pattern identifies a male line - you, your father, his father and so on back through time.
If you've got exactly the same pattern as someone else then the chances of you not being related are extremely small.
We are increasingly including autosomal tests into our database now as this is growing in popularity. These test (often called family finder, or cousin finder tests) look at parts of DNA on the other (non-sex) chromosomes. On each of these chromosome pairs, one half of the DNA comes from your mother and the other half from your father. Same story for your parents, so you got one-quarter of your DNA from each of your four grandparents, and so on back in time.
This test is good for finding links to other people with whom you share bits of DNA - the more bits you share, the closer you are related. It's typically good for shared relationships back to about your G3 grandparents, sometimes even further.
As the science is advancing, more people are also adding SNP testing to their Y DNA story. This looks at discrete changes (Single Nucleotide Polymorphism) along the Y chromosome. It is now beginning to show real use within the genealogical timeframe as the tests become bettter and more people are taking them.
There are also mitochodrial DNA tests available that look at your mother's mother's mother's... line. These are not as widely used as yDNA or atDNA tests for genealogical studies.
What does the test involve?
The test itself is usually just a swab (like a Cotton Bud without the soft tip) that you rub against the inside of your cheek. This gathers enough lose cells for the laboratory you've chosen to do the analysis. It really is as easy as that.
is the best
For yDNA tests we have used all the labs available, but have a project hosted by Family Tree DNA. There is a new provider available called ySeq , we have been using them increasingly as they offer a significant cost saving on ftDNA, but they don't have the nice project hosting facilities.
ftDNA, ancestry and 23andMe all offer cousin finder tests. We have participants who have used each of them, and also the genographics project. They all work, they are not all available globally, and the cost varies from company to company. Pick the one that you like best, but whichever one you decide on, please transfer your results into gedmatch . That's the only way you get to compare across the companies. Otherwise, if you test with ancestry you only get to see matches with other people who tested with ancestry - not your cousin who tested with ftDNA.
Which Y test is the best?
A very difficult question. The tests are graded by the number of STRs tested. The more STRs tested, the better the comparisons, but the higher the cost. We've found the yDNA37 marker test to be a very good option.
If you want to go for the cheapest option of a 12 marker test that's fine, but please make sure that the company will do an upgrade to more markers if you want it in the future - or you'll end up paying twice for the same thing. If you get a match on 12 markers then you will want to upgrade.
If you choose yseq.net then you want their alpha + beta panels.
What do you get back?
For the Y DNA test you get a string of numbers.
Doesn't seem like much does it? On their own they are meaningless, no use for anything. The power in them only comes out when they can be compared with a database of other peoples sets of numbers, which is why it's worth joining a group effort like this. And the more people who join, the better the database becomes.
Any other questions?
Please contact me, Derrick Watson, at docw...@hotmail.co.uk, or Andrew Kinsman at andr...@ntlworld.com.