DNA Testing - Frequently Asked Questions

Understand DNA Testing
Genetic Genealogy FAQ:  Using DNA Testing for Genealogy

 What is Genetic Genealogy? 

 The latest tool for genealogists utilizing DNA to aid genealogical research.  Genealogists use a combination of DNA test results and traditional paper trails to prove or disprove family lines and connections, furthering knowledge where paper trails alone cannot do it alone. 

 I'm new to genealogy, how do I get started? 

Start by asking family members for information on your family. Someone may have already compiled a portion or even a significant amount of your family. There may be a family bible with births, marriages & deaths. Older family members may recall information that you can compile. As a first step, prepare a chart showing your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, etc., reaching back as far as you can find information. (More information on Getting Started in Genealogy...) 

 What is DNA?  

DNA or DeoxyriboNucleic Acid is the molecule sometimes known as the blueprint of life. It contains the genetic code that exists in each cell of our bodies and is found throughout nature in living things. Genealogists can compare certain sequences or markers on specific chromosomes between living individuals in hopes of finding common ancestors.

 How can DNA testing help genealogy?  
For purposes of surname genealogy studies, DNA refers to the 23rd chromosome pair. Females have two x chromosomes, while males have one x and one y chromosome. The y chromosome is passed from father to son and is usually identical from father to son. Occasionally, there is a mutation. Over 1000s of years, these mutations have resulted in distinctive yDNA profiles for different families. These differences are the focus of DNA testing in surname genealogy, often called yDNA. Both males and females carry mtDNA inherited from their mother, which traces the maternal line, as mtDNA is passed down by women to both males and females, but only females pass it on.  Not useful for surname genealogy, mtDNA traces your deep ancestry inherited from your maternal line.  Autosomal DNA (Family Finder) uses the DNA you get from both sides of your family, and is helpful in tracing back 5 or 6 generations, but is not as useful in tracing back further. 

My ancestors are all long dead. How do I get their DNA?  

Males carry the yDNA of their Surname ancestors, so we test them as representatives of their ancestors.. DNA tests are taken from the living and compared among groups of people. We look for male descendants who share a common surname or surname spelling variant. A single Y-DNA test is not that useful, but can be very revealing when compared to known or suspected cousins. In many cases, yDNA matches among individuals indicate a common male ancestor who may have lived hundreds of years ago, with the “cousins” being completely unknown to one another.

mtDNA is passed down from the mother to her children, but only females can pass it on.  So you got your mtDNA from your mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother...all the way back.

Autosomal DNA (Family Finder) is the DNA you got from all your ancestors, both male and female, from all Surname lines.  It is useful in finding relationships for about 5 generations back, but does not trace a single family line.

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How does DNA testing work?  

The DNA test is typically a cheek swab, which collects tissue cells. The laboratory examines these cells and uses standardized protocols to count the number of repeats of genetic patterns at standardized locations on the DNA helix. A yDNA result is a set of repeats (numbers) at particular addresses (markers). By comparing the numbers at the markers, we can determine if a man shares a common ancestor with a second sample. Typically, this is recorded as the number of exact matches and the total number of markers, i.e.: 12/12, 23/25 33/37, etc. Generally, for a greater number of markers, there is a higher reliability and for a closer the match in numbers, there is a closer relationship.  MtDNA and Family Finder results are reported differently.

How conclusive is DNA testing?  

The typical researcher is interested in specific individuals in a specific family tree, while DNA testing evaluates common ancestry. By itself, a DNA test cannot confirm that a specific individual is the ancestor of the test participant.

However, DNA testing can confirm that two test participants share a common ancestor. When combined with traditional genealogy, DNA results can aid in reconstructing genealogies and can confirm or refute specific relationships, including descent from specific ancestors, with a high degree of confidence. The most useful comparisons are between men who have closely matching yDNA patterns and who have also established paper trails (genealogies).

DNA testing can be conclusive in proving that a male from an earlier generation is NOT an ancestor. The degree of certainty is a function of genealogies of the participants who document the earlier male.

How useful will DNA testing be for me? 

The answer will vary for each individual. For a man with a distinctive DNA profile who matches into a family whose profile has already been established, the result can be quite useful, as it can confirm his family and leave only the question of which members are his actual direct ancestors. For the man whose result matches multiple distinct families of the same surname, the result can be ambiguous. For the man who fails to match any other participant, the result can be quite frustrating. Over time, as additional markers and participants are added, we can hope that results for the latter two become as useful as they are for the first case. 

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Can I use DNA testing in lieu of other research?  

DNA testing should be used as a supplement to traditional research. It has a limited value when used alone.

What is yDNA?

The yDNA test is used for testing males only, but females can make use of this test if they can convince a male relative to participate. The yDNA test uses information from the y-chromosome, which is passed from father to son, essentially unchanged. (If there were no changes, each man would have exactly the same yDNA as "Adam" and with each other.) This test is only useful in testing the male participant's father's father's ... father's line. As this line is associated with Surnames in western societies, it is pretty easy to visualize - and to track through genealogy. All men who share the same "common ancestor" will carry essentially the same yDNA and receive tests results that are also essentially the same. (For more information on yDNA...) 

What is mtDNA? 

The mtDNA test can use used for testing males or females, but only females can pass their mtDNA on to their children.  The mtDNA test uses information from the mitochondria, the material that surrounds the chromosomes.  This test is only useful in testing the participant's mother's mother's....mother's line.  As female surnames tend to change with each generation, it is relatively difficult to track more that a few generations through genealogy.  All people who share the same "common female ancestor" will carry essentially the same mtDNA and receive test results that are essentially the same. (For more information on mtDNA...)   

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What is the autosomal or "Family Finder" test?

The Family Finder test helps you find family across all your lines, up to 6 generations back, by checking hundreds of thousands of points in your autosomal DNA and comparing your results with others in the Family Finder database. (For more information on the Family Finder test.)

 Who should get tested?  

Anyone who is interested in confirming their surname ancestry should consider DNA testing.

Y-DNA--Surname Projects use yDNA testing, as yDNA is passed from father to son, just as the surname is passed down.  A male can represent himself and his surname family with a yDNA test, while a female will need to arrange for a male relative to yDNA test to represent her and her family. You should get tested if it will aid in defining the DNA profile of your surname ancestors. When your DNA profile is combined with another descendant of a common ancestor, it can define the DNA profile of that earlier ancestor. When combined with your brother’s result, your test will define the common ancestor (your father). When combined with a 5th cousin’s DNA, your result will define the result of your gggg-grandfather.  Of particular concern are the sole surviving male representatives of a family line. Once they are gone, their family cannot be directly represented. These men are particularly important to their family study and should be strongly considered for testing. Many families already have stories of DNA testing a family member who has since died, or of not getting a test on a family member before they passed on. 

mtDNA--The mtDNA test can be used for testing females or males, but only females can pass their mtDNA on to their children.  This test is only useful in testing the participant's mother's mother's .... mother's line. As this line changes names every generation, it is relatively difficult to track more than a few generations through genealogy. All people who share the same "common ancestor" will carry essentially the same mtDNA and receive tests results that are also essentially the same.

Please note:  Surname DNA Projects use only yDNA test results, but you are welcome to join the project so that you will be included in project updates and you can provide your family pedigree for the website.  You may be able to find a male to yDNA-test to represent your line in the Surname Project.

 

Family Finder-- Family Finder testing is for both males and females. This test helps you find family across all your lines, up to 6 generations back, by checking hundreds of thousands of points in your autosomal DNA and comparing your results with others in the Family Finder database. Adoptees can use the Family Finder test to match to male and female cousins from any of your family lines.

Please note:  Surname DNA Projects use only yDNA test results, but you are welcome to join the project so that you will be included in project updates and you can provide your family pedigree for the website.  You may be able to find a male to yDNA-test to represent your line in the Surname Project.

How do you protect my privacy? 

Our approach is to separate the person providing the dna testing from the reported information. We use the kit  number and earliest known ancestor to identify a project member's results on our site.  FTDNA provides a password-protected Personal Page where you can see your results and your matches.  You have the option of making your results and email address available to those whom you match.  Only the person ordering the kit, the project administrators, and the FTDNA staff know the identity of anyone taking a test. Or, you can completely hide the test representative's name or address - by using a dummy name and by sending the kit to the sponsor's home.

We will blind copy or forward a request for contact, but won't give out contact info.

The individual has the ability to allow comparisons only within the project. To completely conceal your identity, one approach is to list only the earliest known ancestor.

FTDNA has a good section on Privacy

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I'm female. Can I be tested? 

Yes. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) looks at the DNA that both women and men inherit from their mother's side. A mother passes her mtDNA to her children, but only females can pass it on. This represents the mother’s mother’s…mother’s maternal line. Your mtDNA result can be compared with another person’s mtDNA to see if you share a common female ancestor. Anyone can take this test. For more information about mtDNA.

Females can also take the Family Finder Test.

Please note:  Surname DNA Projects use only yDNA test results, but you are welcome to join the project so that you will be included in project updates and you can provide your family pedigree for the website. 

Additionally, you can sponsor a male from your surname family of interest. This allows you to participate in your ancestral surname DNA project. For help in choosing the right test for you,

Here's a link to an inheritance chart at Family Tree DNA that may help explain more clearly: http://www.familytreedna.com/tc.html

Are there any downsides to getting tested? 

A possible downside is that one may not get the result that one hopes for, or expects. For many people, that will be viewed as additional information and they will continue their research. However, for those individuals where that result causes significant distress, it could be a downside.  In addition, a certain percentage of test takers have no significant matches initially, which calls for patience and varied approaches.

What if I get back results I don't like, such as indications of a non-paternity event in my ancestry

Non-paternity results did occur and they may be obvious through DNA testing when the result is being compared in a well-documented family.

There are several scenarios that fit into the category of non-paternity event.

  • One, of course, is infidelity, but this may not be the most common
  • Another common event was the unrecorded adoption. As there were many adult deaths on the frontier, children were frequently raised by relatives or friends, with the adoptive parents giving the child their own last name.
  • Another occurrence that fits into this category is the unrecorded name change - which causes the same confusion

Where infidelities or adoptions have long been rumored and now proven, there can be some satisfaction. Where an infidelity or adoption occurred in a well-documented family, identifying it helps in clarifying the DNA profile of descendants. Where the non-paternity event occurs in a family without extensive documentation, it can be very disruptive and prevent the participant from obtaining matches within the surname.

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Will this test tell me about medical conditions? 

No. (The DNA evaluated in the yDNA and mtDNA tests is often called “junk DNA’ because of its lack of medical information. FTDNA does not test autosomal dna for medical traits.)

Who has access to my results? 

Testing Companies and Surname Projects historically allow the test participant control of access to their identity and disclosure of their results. Confidentiality is paramount at FTDNA. You can share your data publicly on databases by encoding your results with a kit number and an ancestor’s name. This is sufficient for others, who have a genealogical interest to find and to contact you. In this manner, you can share your test data without revealing your identity or the identity of the testee, if it is from some one other than yourself.

Can insurance companies use my findings against me?

 There is nothing in your DNA result that is of interest to an insurance company. Y-DNA testing is extraordinarily specific to just the markers of interest to genealogists. These markers exist in so-called “non-coding” regions of the Y-chromosome. (The DNA evaluated in this test is often called “junk DNA” because of its lack of medical information.) The Y-chromosome contains very little genetic data, and those regions of the Y-chromosome are not tested in any case.

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Will the testing company sell my results to anyone else?

No. Each testing company makes a written commitment to you respecting your privacy. You have to sign a release to even get your results compared to other participants in their database.

Will I find out I'm a different race? 

Whether this is a hope, a fear, or a curiosity, there is rarely a surprise here. We have a white American who is absolutely sure of his paternal heritage once in a great while who has an African result. As the Roman soldiers were from all over their Empire, including Africa, it is easy to imagine an African-born soldier settling in Northern Europe nearly 2000 years ago, taking a local wife and having a son, who had a son, ... and so on. After so many generations, that man looks as Northern European as anyone can,. but still carries the yDNA of that ancient ancestor.

 What will my results look like? 

The appearance varies by testing company, but the critical information typically comes in a simple table. The result is primarily a listing of the markers that have been tested, plus a number for each marker For more information, see Understand Your Results.  

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How do I interpret my results? 

Generally, you interpret your results by comparing them with the results of other participants. (See Understand Your Results.)

How do I test for Jewish ancestry? 

In order to test for Jewish ancestry, you will need to have just the right connection between the ancestor you believe was Jewish and the person being tested. As the Jewish tradition is handed down through the mother, you would first consider the mtDNA test, which tests your mother's mother's ... mother's maternal ancestry.

For a male Jewish ancestor, you will use the yDNA test. If there is any female in the direct line between the man being tested and this Jewish ancestor, you will be testing some other ancestor's yDNA and will not get what you seek. yDNA is passed from a father to his sons.

Here is what FTDNA has to say: "Jewish ancestry is not an exact result. By way of comparison we can see whether or not the direct line being tested is likely to be Jewish in origin. We have the largest Jewish ancestry database of this kind. This comparison is included on the recent ancestral origins page. There are 4 scenarios for individuals who think there may be Jewish origins: mainly matches who have listed Jewish origins (indicates probably of Jewish origins), some matches who have listed Jewish ancestry and some who have not (tougher to call, Bennett can help answer some of these questions), has matches, but not of Jewish origin (probably not Jewish in origin), or no matches at all. The last case, means you're not matching anyone of Jewish origins when compared against the database, but you are also not matching anyone of non-Jewish origins. This is a "wait and see" situation in most cases. There is a Cohen Modal Haplotype that we automatically compare everyone against. It is a 12 marker set of results. If you match this haplotype we put a CMH badge on your personal page which is linked to information on what that means."

We suggest that you work through the Jewish Heritage Project. But, don't click on the link to order yDNA for $149. Instead, click on "Projects" at the top of the page and then scroll down to "Dual Geographic Projects", then click on "J" then "Jewish Heritage Proj"

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How do I test for Native American ancestry? 

In order to test for Native American ancestry, you will need to have just the right connection between the ancestor you believe was Native American and the person being tested.

For a female Native American ancestor, you will use the mtDNA test. You will need to locate a person whose mother's mother's ... mother is the targeted Native American. If there is any male in the direct line between the person being tested and this ancestor, you will be testing some other ancestor's mtDNA and will not get what you seek. mtDNA is passed from a mother to her children. Men carry their mother's mtDNA, but cannot pass it on.

For a male Native American ancestor, you will use the yDNA test. You will need to locate a man whose father's father's ... father is the targeted Native American. If there is any female in the direct line between the man being tested and this ancestor, you will be testing some other ancestor's yDNA and will not get what you seek. yDNA is passed from a father to his sons. Women do not carry yDNA at all.

I was adopted.  Can DNA testing help me?

Here are some things an adoptee can do to make yDNA work for him

  1. If you know the surname you should match, you can order your test through that project.  You will receive the lower price to testing through a project and your test results will be shown on the results page for comparison to others with that surname.
  2. Family Tree DNA has created a special Surname Project just for adoptees.  By testing through this project, you receive the lower yDNA test price for those tested through a project.  To order through the project, you must order at least the 37 marker yDNA test or the mtDNA test .  Higher resolution tests are also available, or you may upgrade later.  If you want to order through this project, click here:  http://www.familytreedna.com/DNAList.asp?Group=adopted
  3. Set your "myFTDNA page" so that your test results are compared to the entire database.  This option is shown on the "Matches" page.  This will allow you to compare to everyone who has opted into the FTDNA database.
  4. Upload your yDNA results to Ysearch, which is the database which allows anyone to upload his DNA results, no matter which testing company was used.  This will allow you to compare to a larger group.  To upload to Ysearch, go to your "myFTDNA page" at FTDNA and click on "Y-DNA Matches".  Scroll to the bottom of the page for a link to Ysearch.
  5. Consider an upgrade.  37 markers is considered a minimum for matching across surnames, and some say you should test at 67 markers to confirm matches across surnames. 
  6. Once you have a very close match across surnames, contact the men you are matching and ask them to share paper trails with you.

The Family Finder test can be helpful in defining relationships with other people who have taken the Family Finder test. 

How much do the tests cost?

Testing cost varies, depending on the test you choose and which testing company you choose.  Testing costs for yDNA tests at Family Tree DNA are cheaper when purchased through the project's order page.  Testing prices are considerably lower during sales.  To go to Family Tree DNA to check prices, click here:  www.familytreedna.com

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Once I've decided to be tested, how do I choose a test? 

You have a choice of three tests in genetic genealogy: 
yDNA for the male (paternal) line,
mtDNA for the female (maternal) line and
Family Finder (autosomal dna)
to trace back on both sides for about 5 generations. 

For information on getting DNA testing:  Get DNA Tested

For information on choosing the right test: Which Test?

For step-by-step guidance through the whole process, read:  DNA the Smart Way.

How do I order a test from FTDNA?

  1. You get the best price for a yDNA test at FTDNA by ordering through a project.  Click the "order test link on the project's website and you will be taken directly to the order page for your project at FTDNA. 
  2. You can also search for the project on the Surname Projects page of WorldFamilies.net
  3. You can go to www.familytreedna.com, do a search for a surname project, and follow the links to order through the project.

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Which y-DNA test should I order?

Use as many markers as you can comfortably afford. Generally, we recommend starting with either 25 or 37 markers as a trade-off between cost and information. (If cost is a major issue, you can start with 12 markers and upgrade in steps.) If you know the surname you should match, you can probably get by with 25 markers. If you are trying to match to a different surname without a paper trail – you will need 37 markers. Most researchers who are serious about their genealogy have ended up with at least 37 markers – and many are now increasing to 67 markers or 111 markers.

You can go in steps, upgrading a bit at a time - or buy the markers all at once.

What will I learn from a 12-marker test?

This test does not have enough markers to confirm a common ancestor.  If you want to find out who you match in order to further your genealogical research, you should order at least 25 markers, but 37 markers is considered the best starting point.

The basic 12-marker test tells you your deep ancestry (called Haplogroup - think 1,000s and 10,000s of years). The haplogroup will give you an idea of the migrations of your ancestral family from earliest times and can confirm Native American, African or Jewish ancestry.

In addition, you can identify families that do not share a recent common ancestor with you and can usually confirm clear paper trails. It will also provide an indication of the families who may share a recent common ancestor with you.

A 12 marker test is insufficient for broad genealogical purposes, for confirming relationship to families where there is no connecting paper trail, or confirming relations with different surnames. These goals require more markers.

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Which mtDNA test should I order?

If you are seeking information on your deep ancestry (1000s and 10,000s of years ago) the mtDNA test is sufficient. (This test is sometimes called HVR1)
If you wish to use your mtDNA result to confirm a maternal ancestry (you and another person share a common maternal ancestor) then you will gain by taking the mtDNA Plus test (This test is sometimes called HVR1 + HVR2)
If you wish to test your entire mtDNA sequence, then you’ll want the mtDNA Full Sequence test. (FTDNA calls this test “Mega”) FTDNA suggests this for anyone who doesn’t wish to be upgrading when they need more info – as this will give you the entire sequence.

Please note:  Surname DNA Projects use only yDNA test results, but you are welcome to join the project so that you will be included in project updates and you can provide your family pedigree for the website.  You may be able to find a male to yDNA-test to represent your line in the Surname Project.

How can I find a male family member to test?

If you are not a male directly descended from the family surname you are trying to research, you will have to find a male to yDNA test to represent your line in the DNA project. This male must be directly descended, through males, from your common ancestor. Sometimes you'll have to go back up the family tree and come back down to a living male that shares a x-grandfather with you and carries the surname you want tested.

For example, if you are seeking to trace your maternal grandfather's line:
Did your mother have a brother?  Did he have sons? 
Did your mother's father (your maternal grandfather) have a brother?  Did he have sons?  Did they have sons? 
Did your mother's great grandfather (your maternal great-grandfather) have a brother?  Did he have sons?  Did they have sons? ...and so on, until you find a living male who can represent that family line for you.

Should I combine the y-DNA and mtDNA tests?

If you going to ultimately order both yDNA and mtDNA tests for one person, you will save time by ordering them together.

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Should we test multiple descendants?

You should get tested if it will aid in defining the DNA profile of your surname ancestors. When your DNA profile is combined with another descendant of a common ancestor, it can define the DNA profile of that earlier ancestor. When combined with your brother’s result, your test will define the common ancestor (your father). When combined with a 5th cousin’s DNA, your result will define the result of your gggg-grandfather. For a man who has already had a close relative tested, there may be little value in his additional testing unless there are specific questions to be answered.

Of particular concern are the sole surviving male representatives of a family line. Once they are gone, their family cannot be directly represented. These men are particularly important to their family study and should be strongly considered for testing. Many families already have stories of DNA testing a family member who has since died, or of not getting a test on a family member before they passed on.
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I tested at another company. Can I join one of your surname projects?

FTDNA now allows people who tested at other companies to join FTDNA's database for a modest amount. This allows you to join our Surname Projects. To learn more, click here: http://www.familytreedna.com/landing/ydna-transfer.aspx

Can a Surname Project help me find a specific person or a lineage?

Some people are lucky enough to find the name or the lineage they seek in the pedigrees on the Patriarch page or the earliest known ancestors on the Results page.  However, some project members may not have provided this information as yet, so this does not always give you an answer as to whether someone who descends from a particular person or lineage has been tested.  The project website can only display the information that has been provided by project participants. As the project continues to grow, new pedigrees and ealiest known ancestors will be posted that may have the link that is of interest to you.  In the meantime we encourage you to post your pedigree (you do not have to be tested to post a pedigree), as an interested researcher may see it and contact you to share information.  We also encourage you to check back to the Patriarch and Results pages from time to time to see if a new posting is of interest.

Can I place an order for someone else?

Yes. Make sure you put in the name of the actual test taker in the first screen of the ordering process.
Enter the address the kit and the results will be mailed to. If this is not the address of the test taker put “c/o" the person receiving the kit, on the first address line. You can enter the address on the second line.
If you want the kit sent to one address and the results sent to another address enter the address you want the kit sent to. Once the test taker has received the kit and returned it to our office you may change the address to the one you want the results sent to.
Enter the phone number you wish to use as the contact number for this kit.
Enter the email address(es) you want to be notified of the order and the results. You may enter more than one email address.
Once you have filled out the information on this page click “Continue” and fill out the billing information. Your order will not be processed until you hit the “Confirm” button.

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I'm female, Should I take the mtDNA test or find someone to take a y-DNA test?

If you want to trace back your mother's mother's mother's line, you would use the mtDNA test, which either male or female could take, since you share the same mtDNA. You should be aware, however, that mtDNA is not useful in tracing surnames, as it traces through women, whose surnames change each generation. It is helpful, however, for your deep ancestry, which may give you your geographic and ethnic origins. Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) looks at the DNA that either a man or woman inherits from the mother's side. This represents the mother’s mother’s…mother’s line. mtDNA tests the deep maternal ancestry (think 1000s of years) A mother passes her mtDNA to her children, but only females can pass it on. As mtDNA mutates very slowly, it becomes a link to your distant past - giving you the mtDNA of your mother's mother's ... mother's line. By testing, you learn your haplogroup – which tells you which "branch of woman" you descend from on your maternal side. In addition to learning your Haplogroup, you'll be told of the mutations that are present. These allow you to locate those with whom you share a maternal heritage. Often, this is too far in the past to be able to link paper trails, but a number of folks have started mtDNA projects to increase the learning.

Please note:  Surname DNA Projects use only yDNA test results, but you are welcome to join the project with an mtDNA test, so that you will be included in project updates and you can provide your family pedigree for the website.

Another option open to you to trace any of these family surnames is to find a male family member to test, using the yDNA test. Surname DNA (yDNA) looks at the DNA that a man inherits from his father's (paternal) side. This represents his father’s father’s … father’s line. The y-chromosome (yDNA) results are compared with two or more men to see if they share a common male ancestor. You may have to go up your family tree and come back down to find a living male that shares a common grandfather or great-grandfather or great great grandfather with you and carries the surname you want tested.

When will my test results be ready?

Generally, it takes 4 to 6 weeks from the time FTDNA receives the kit.  You can track the progress of the kit through the lab if you will go to your personal page at FTDNA, using your kit number and the password they gave you.  On your personal page click on "Order History", then click on the link "Check the status of pending tests."  It will tell you the expected date that your results will be ready.  To learn more about using the important personal page, read these pages: 
http://www.worldfamilies.net/ftdnatools
http://www.worldfamilies.net/accesspersonalpage

Can this test tell me if my sibling and I have the same parent?
 
The yDNA is a test that can only be done on males, as only males carry yDNA, which each male gets from his father, who got it from his father....all the way back.  The mtDNA test can be taken by either males or females, and traces the mtDNA that you got from your mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother, all the way back.  Thus, the yDNA test can tell you if two brothers have the same father, but is not useful for a brother and sister.  The mtDNA test can tell you if two people had the same mother, but is not useful in telling you anything about the father.  The Family Finder test can tell you if you and another person are siblings.
 
 
Why should I get a SNP test?
 
FTDNA makes every effort to accurately estimate your haplogroup when they process your DNA results.  They are very good at making these estimates, based on the thousands of tests they have done.  However, you can also purchase, as an upgrade to the test you took, a specific haplogroup test, often called a SNP (snip) test, which will look at a part of the DNA where they can tell you very specifically your haplogroup to a much greater refinement.  Think of it as the branching of a tree branch.  The branch itself may be R1b, then it branches into R!b1b2, and then branches again to a smaller branch that is R1b1b2a1a1.  It is through this haplogroup testing that you can be more specific about the migrations and ethnic heritage of your earliest ancestors.  SNP testing enables you to narrow the focus of your search for a match, particularly for those who are R1b1, as it is the largest haplogroup, and the most common haplogroup for Western European males.  Here is a page with information about upgrading:  http://www.worldfamilies.net/upgrade

 

How do I order an upgrade or a SNP test?

You can order an upgrade by: 

1. Going to your FTDNA Personal page (You'll need your kit number and password.)
2. Looking toward the top right and locating “Order an Upgrade” (and click on it)
3. Click on "Standard Orders".
4. At the bottom of the page, click on the down arrow to see the range of upgrade choices
5. Select the one you want, confirm your personal info and select method of payment
6. Click “Continue” and complete your order

The Deep SNP test can be ordered by:

1. Going to your FTDNA Personal page
2. Click on "Order an Upgrade" in the top right corner.
3. Click on "Order Advanced SNP Tests".

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Which yDNA upgrade should I order?

A part of the answer is “what can you afford”? You can upgrade in small increments or do it at one time. Who you match and what you know about them also affects the number of markers needed.

o If you have a paper trail connecting you and another person and you match 24/25 or 25/25 - you can be relatively confident that you share that paper trail common ancestor. This is true whether the man you match has your surname or not - as long as you can connect paper trails. However, if your match is 23/35, you are in a gray zone and should consider upgrading to 37.

o If you have a match to a person of a different surname, you'll need to compare at 37 markers - using the 25 marker matches only as an indication of who is of potential interest.

o If you match at least 34/37, you can be reasonably confident that you share a common ancestor. With a lesser match, you'll then want to compare at 67 markers. That doesn't happen too often, but it can happen - particularly when comparing across surnames.

o If you are in a project and are in a group that matches and shares a common ancestor (we call this a “Lineage”), you’ll want to upgrade to the same number of markers as the other men in the group, as you’ll be looking to see if you can find closer kin within your Lineage.

o 67 markers are nice to have, and you can go straight there (saves a few dollars and some time over getting there in steps) and you’ll be ready to do any comparison that comes along. But it’s ok to reach 67 in steps

What is a SNP test?

The SNP test identifies which Haplogroup, or major branch of the tree, a male belongs to. The value of it is to identify your branch of the yDNA tree and then to use this information to consult the scientific literature to determine the geographic locations and migrations of your branch.

The Deep SNP test can be ordered by:

1. Going to your FTDNA Personal page
2. Click on "Order an Upgrade" in the top right corner.
3. Click on "Order Advanced SNP Tests".

I lost my test kit.  What do I do?

You can call (713) 868-1438 or email helpdesk@familytreedna.com  FTDNA and explain the problem to them.  They will send you a new test kit at no charge. 

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Do I need to log in to view a project's website at WFN?  

You do not need to register or log in to view any page of the website.  However,

  • You will need to register and log in if you want to post on the forum.
  • You will need to register to "track" a project and to join the Surname Community.

How do I register?

To register so that you can post on the forums, or make a project a favorite so that there is a link to the project website each time you log in:

Go to www.worldfamilies.net
Under the login button, click on "Create new account" 
It will bring up a new screen that will have a box that says:  "Register - Required Information" . 
You can choose any username and password you would like. If you want to hide your email from the public on the website, click on the box next to the blank for your email address. 
Do a "visual verification" by typing the scrambled letters you see. 
Read the usage agreement below it, scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the square by "I agree". 
Click on "Register" below that.  You are now registered. 
Make a note of the username and password you chose in case you forget it the next time you visit the forum.

How do I upload my results to ySearch?

To upload to Ysearch, go to your "myFTDNA page" at FTDNA and click on "Y-DNA Matches".  Scroll to the bottom of the page for a link to Ysearch.

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Is WorldFamilies.net the same company as FTDNA?

No, but there is some understandable confusion.  Family Tree DNA is the company that sells the DNA test and reports your results to you.  FTDNA is the oldest company doing DNA testing for genealogy and has the largest database for comparing your results, so you chose well in testing with them.  We at World Families have a business relationship with FTDNA in which we administer surname DNA projects for surnames in which no family member has stepped forward to administer the project.  We provide a website for the project, post pedigrees and results, and send emails to project members to welcome them to the project and to inform them of new postings on the project.  Our services are absolutely free to the project.

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