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DNA - Where Do I Test?  Part 2

    Last week I answered a question about Y-DNA and mtDNA testing.  Most people today are testing using autosomal (at)DNA. Here you have more options.  Rather than make a recommendation, I’ll pass on my experience and point you to an article on the International Society of Genetic Genealogy WIKI (ISOGG) on choosing a testing company.

   I will start by saying that I tested originally at 23andMe, and as I mentioned, it was primarily for medical reasons.  I was very happy with the results I got, but it was in 2009, before the FDA stopped the medical testing.  Today, 23andMe has worked with the FDA and some (but not all) of the testing has been reinstated. They currently offer over 75 online reports. Initially I did not spend any time with cousin matches.  For the most part they were distant and I didn’t recognize any of the names.  I had two close matches which I contacted.  One did not respond, and the second indicated she had tested for medical reasons and didn’t know much about her family except that her grandmother had emigrated from Liski in the Ukraine.  If you’ve read many of my blogs, you’ll recognize that this is the town my grandfather was from. Unfortunately, she had no additional information.      

   Today, 23andMe charges $99 for an ancestry test and $199 for  health and ancestry.  

   Once I became more familiar with DNA and testing, I transferred my results from 23&Me to FamilyTree DNA.  This was relatively inexpensive at the time and today it is free for matches and $19 to unlock the file and get additional features such as chromosome browsing.  FamilyTree DNA can accept results from 23andMe, Ancestry and MyHeritage but check on the version of your original test. Moving my results to FamilyTree DNA allowed me to play in multiple pools so instead of getting only matches from 23andMe, I now got matches to those who had tested as FamilyTree DNA.  

   I next tested at Ancestry.  Why?  Because I could not transfer my results into Ancestry and they had the largest database of testers.  Again, the idea was to expand the pool of possible matches.  Most articles I’ve read indicate that Ancestry is a good place to start beause it has the largest database, and also because you can transfer out of (but not into) their database.

   MyHeritage is also offering atDNA testing.  I have not tested with them, but there is an option to transfer your results.  MyHeritage has a large presence in Europe, but not particularly in the UK or Ireland.  

   This summer I tested with LivingDNA, a UK company. They do not provide individual matching, but provide ancestry breakdown across 80 world regions, including 21 in the Britain and Ireland.  I was curious as to the UK/Ireland breakdowns.  Would you be able to identify a specific area of Ireland to focus your research if you didn’t know where in Ireland your ancestors were from?  My results showed 98.2% in Europe broken down to 73.7% Great Britain and Ireland. Breaking that down further, 24.5% was from Southwest Scotland and Northern Ireland and 20.3% from Central England and South Yorkshire.  I have a paper trail that matches that information.  LivingDNA also provides your “motherline” or maternal haplogroup and if you are male, your “fatherline” or direct paternal (Y-DNA) line geographically.  Interesting information, but as I mentioned above, no cousin matching. I’ll be watching to see what happens with this company

   The last site, GedMatch, is not a testing company, but a free site where you can upload your data.  They except raw data files from Ancestry, FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, and some 23andMe files depending on the testing chip used.  

   One of the biggest complaints I hear about DNA testing in general is the lack of response from matches.  As I mentioned when discussing 23andMe, many people tested for medical results and therefore don’t have any interest in finding cousins.  It’s hard to miss the Ancestry commercials which all focus on ethnicity…I though I was German but my DNA results said I was Scottish.  My experience is that many people at Ancestry have tested just for ethnicity results and don’t have any interest in connecting. With GedMatch however, people who upload their results are looking for cousins and have provided the best response.  

   If you are just deciding to test, or if you need to order additional tests for family members, now is a great time to do it.  All of the companies are currently offering special holiday pricing.  You decision may be where you know relatives have tested, or the largest database, or where you already have an account.  It’s up to you.  You need to educate yourself and I’ve listed some resources below.

(The comment regarding MyHeritage requiring a subscription came from a review at http://tinyurl.com/y952zxz as I do not use MyHeritage.  It was pointed out on my Facebook page that when uploading your results you can contact your matches directly without a subscription.  Thanks, Kathy for pointing this out.)

   DNA testing will not provide your family genealogy.  It is only one tool for genealogists to use and like all research you should start with a plan.  What is the research question you are trying to answer?  Simply testing can be overwhelming.  I have over 16,000 matches (they’ve taken the totals off the results page, but I have 330 pages with 50 results on each page).  The majority of those are 5th - 8th cousins, but I have 174 4th cousins or closer.  How do you make sense of the matches.  Well, that’s the topic for next week.  

   Happy Hunting!

 

Websites:

International Society of Genetic Genealogists http://isogg.org/

ISOGG Wiki
http://isogg.org/wiki

Autosomal DNA
http://isogg.org/wiki/Autosomal_DNA

Average Autosomal DNA Shared
http://tinyurl.com/h2k2m5v

Autosomal DNA testing comparison chart http://tinyurl.com/heytmnp

Beginners’ Guides to genetic genealogy http://tinyurl.com/zbyubt3

Cousinship Chart http://isogg.org/wiki/File:CousinshipChart.jpg

Genetic Genealogy Ireland Videos (YouTube) http://tinyurl.com/mkdrl3g



© Donna M. Moughty 2007- 2017