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Genetic Genealogy

Interested in genetic genealogy? Wondering what it is? Genetic Genealogy is the study of family history using DNA testing to determine relationships. DNA testing is available through several companies including 23and me, Ancestry.com, AfricanDNA, Family Tree DNA and many others . There are three main types of DNA testing that may help with your genealogical search.

  • Y-chromosome testing - this is available only to males, as it follows the male Y-chromosome from father to son. Females will often ask a male in their family to do this test to gain information about their paternal surname line. This test is also useful for males with the same paternal surname to determine if they are related.
  • Mitochondrial DNA testing - this test focuses on the cell structures known as mitochondria which are passed to males and females from their mother. This type of testing may be used by either sex, but will only provide information about the direct female ancestral line.
  • Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) testing - these tests compare large numbers of variation (SNPs) across an individual's entire genome. The results are compared with all others who have taken the tests to determine an estimate of an individual's ethnic background. For example, this is the test that will tell you if you are 10 percent European, 15 percent African, 20 percent Asian, 30 percent Native American and 25 percent unknown. This type of test is used because the Y chromosome test and the mitochondrial test cannot capture the ethnic background of an individual.

Want to learn more? Telling Your Story, a genealogy and family history help group meets the third Monday of each month at Richland Library Cooper.

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