Are you curious about your ancestry?
Then you’re probably wondering how accurate genetic ancestry tests such as those done at CRI Genetics are. Genetic ancestry testing is the only accurate way to determine ancestry. The science is concrete and irrefutable. It is a great way for those seeking to learn about their family history outside of what they can learn from historical documentation and relatives.
Genealogical DNA testing was introduced in the year 2000 and is more precise than traditional methods. The examination of variations in DNA can reveal where your ancestors might have come from and give valuable information about relationships between families. Certain variations in DNA patterns are shared among people with a similar background. The more closely related you are with someone, the more the patterns of variations you share.
So, how accurate is ancestry DNA testing? Let’s find out below.
- Ancestry DNA Testing Methods
There are three types of tests used for genealogy. They all work differently and tell you different things. Therefore, you need to pick the most suitable for your unique set of circumstances to get accurate results.
- Autosomal DNA Tests
An autosomal DNA test can be done on both men and women since it only targets the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. This means it does not rely on the 23rd chromosome, which contributes to gender. This test comes in handy when you want to determine how closely related you are to someone else in the absence of your parents or grandparents. This test can help link determine relations 4 or 5 generations back. If you’re wondering where in the world you come from, then this is the best test for you.
- Mitochondrial DNA Testing
Also referred to as mtDNA, this gene is specifically passed down from your mother. During testing, the DNA of mitochondria is used instead of the main cell DNA. The main advantage of mtDNA is that it doesn’t change with every generation since it is not a combination of DNA from both parents. It is very precise and only gives ancestry results for the maternal line. The test cannot tell you much about any of your other ancestors such as your father and grandfather. If you have no contact with your mother or have been separated from a female family member, then this is the test that will provide the most accurate information.
- Y-DNA Tests
This test is similar to the mtDNA test, but it follows the direct paternal line. The Y-DNA test only examines the Y chromosome, which is found in men. It is particularly useful for determining adoption and illegitimacy. You can find out how closely related you are with men with whom you share a surname spanning a few generations.
- Limited Information on Some Populations
Ancestry DNA tests are hinged on the comparison of collected DNA to reference DNA meant to represent populations across a variety of geographical regions. Most people have a mixed heritage so ancestry is usually represented as a percentage. For example, your results may be 30% Greek, 15% Polish, and so on.
These tests cannot precisely pinpoint where your ancestors actually lived since it is impossible to compare your DNA with that of people who lived hundreds of years ago. In addition, not all groups of people are represented in reference populations. People of European backgrounds are overrepresented. Therefore, you will get a more accurate result If you’re European. African, Asian, and Middle Eastern people have fewer references. Nonetheless, research is gradually being done on a more diverse range of people to help to provide more detailed ancestry tests to people from all parts of the world.
- Countries Vs. Regions
An ancestry DNA test will not give you a country of origin, rather you will get a region. Countries change both in name and dominant populations from time to time. For example, Alsace-Lorraine is a small region bordering Germany and France. It was entirely Germanic prior to the 17th century. It was later annexed by France between the 17th and 18th century. In 1871, it reverted back to Germany. It was returned to France after World War 1. As a result, it is impossible to accurately determine whether your ancestors from that area were French or German using DNA. But you can safely determine whether your ancestors were from that region. Intermarriage and migration also affect the populations of a country over time.
- DNA Mutations
When DNA is passed down from generation to generation, it may go through slight changes with time. These changes are referred to as mutations. While they are harmless, they can affect the accuracy of ancestry DNA tests. Different groups and families create their own distinct mutations over time. This can take up to a millennium to occur. Currently, there are only 40 major groups of people with similar DNA that have been identified.