According to a recent study, approximately 26 million people have already used DNA test kits. Over the past several years, these products have become quite popular. Some people even give them away as holiday gifts.
No doubt finding out about your ancestry is appealing because there is a sense of mystery and, at the same time, fulfillment. But along with the popularity of these kits, comes the additional challenge of choosing which testing company to accept. There are several of them out there, each offering expertise in a particular aspect of genealogical research. Because choosing can be overwhelming, many people miss out on the benefits of a DNA test kit.
Understanding how a DNA test kit works
The first step in making sure that you choose the right DNA test kit is to understand how a test works. Most commercial packages use autosomal testing, which is a common way of finding long-lost or distant relatives. According to www.top10.com, if you are interested in confirming whether you are related to a famous personality or celebrity, you can choose from a list of the best DNA test services that work through autosomal testing.
Another method of testing is through mitochondrial DNA, which traces your maternal lineage. In contrast, a Y chromosome testing kit traces your paternal side of the family. Unlike autosomal testing, these two methods are considered more accurate and can help you find relatives back to 100 generations.
Another popular testing method is screening your DNA to find specific markers that indicate your risk level for particular diseases. These tests can also analyze your physical traits, which give insight into the genes that you will pass down to your kids.
Comparison of DNA testing methods
Before we move on to the other factors you need to consider in choosing a DNA testing company, let us take a closer look at how DNA testing methods used work today:
- Autosomal DNA test. Autosomal chromosomes refer to a particular segment in a person’s DNA that he shares with every person he is related to. Now, this pertains to either maternal, paternal, direct, or indirect relations. The advantage here is that the test is not limited to males or females only. Anyone is suitable for testing. Most commercial DNA testing companies use this method because it produces a broad range of results. With an extensive database used for comparison, a person can have significant success in finding relatives from both the maternal and paternal sides. Moreover, autosomal testing is entirely accurate in confirming a person’s ethnicity.
- Mitochondrial DNA test. Mitochondrial DNA is only passed from mother to child. Therefore, this test helps in tracing a person’s maternal lineage. What is unique about this test is that it indicates a specific haplogroup. What this means is that it is possible to trace your maternal lineage many, many generations back.
- Y chromosome test. The Y chromosome is unique to men. Hence, this test traces paternal lineage, and only males can take this test. But if you are a female who wants to find your paternal ancestors, you can ask a male relative to take the test. This test serves the same purpose as the mitochondrial DNA test and uncovers a specific haplogroup of ancestors. In this case, only male ancestors for as many generations as possible.
These specific examples of testing methods used by commercial DNA testing companies are particularly useful in genealogical research. However, when it comes to gaining insight into genetic traits and possible hereditary illnesses, testing companies use more advanced methods and processes.
Deciding what information you want from a DNA test
Understanding the information you get from a DNA test kit will help you decide which service is best for you. Most commercial DNA test kit providers also have online services where you can register and access their database. If you are looking to build your family tree, find a missing person or relative, for example, an ancestry DNA test kit is perhaps the best option.
On the other hand, if your primary purpose is genetic testing to uncover possible hereditary traits or illnesses, you must choose a company with expertise and experience in this line of DNA testing. The process of identifying abnormalities in the human genome is more complicated; hence finding the best company to conduct the test is a more tedious matter.
It is also critical to take into account the online facilities provided by the testing company. For instance, most of them offer a platform where you can register and view your test results. They also offer helpful tools on how to navigate and interpret your results online. Some companies can also connect you with ancestry websites where you can conveniently build a family tree and start searching for your ancestors. Learn more about this on DNAWeekly.
How about the cost of a DNA test?
The cost of a DNA test kit varies from one provider to another. As such, product quality also differs. If you are selecting a DNA test kit based on the price, make sure that you are also checking the background and reputation of the provider. Note that the testing method used by the company significantly impacts the amount of information and quality of service. Therefore, there may be cheaper options available, but there is no guarantee that you will get the best results.
Detailed comparison of DNA test kits
After determining why you want a DNA test kit as well as your budget, the last thing you need to do is make a detailed comparison of the various packages and suppliers on the market. Choose only well-known brands with established reputations. There are also comprehensive online reviews comparing these test kits and the services provided by the testing company.
Choosing the right DNA test kit for your needs, whether or for ancestry-search or not, should not be a complicated process. When you begin by identifying the purpose of the test as well as take time to research your options, you will find a kit that is perfect for you.