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February 27, 2009

DNA Genealogy - Friend or Foe?

Last year I decided to jump on the DNA Genealogy bandwagon. I wanted to find my McGinnis Family origins in Ireland and my years of slogging through microfilm and contacting others had not turned up any new clues. Even the county they originated from eluded me!

So I started reading about DNA, DNA testing for genealogy purposes, which companies were selling DNA kits, which DNA studies were considered the best and so on. It was extremely confusing! I didn't understand enough to know if I was comparing apples to oranges.

What was the difference between the number of markers being compared? Did it matter which test I purchased or what company I bought it from? The only thing I was sure of was that I wanted a Y-Chromosone test and that one of my male relatives (with the McGinnis surname) would have to take it on my behalf.


Paternal DNA tests give you information from your father's side of the family. It can provide close family connections and likely ancestors. Only males can have a Paternal DNA test done, and if you are searching a specific surname, the male being tested must carry that surname. Basically this is the DNA passed down from father to son through the generations

Maternal DNA tests follow your mother's line, back on through female ancestors only. So a Maternal DNA test will follow the path from your mother to her mother, to her mother's mother, and so on.


After a great deal of research, I narrowed my choices to DNA testing and Family Tree DNA.

HOW MANY MARKERS? DNA testing offers a 33 marker Paternal Lineage Test (Y-Chromosome 33) or a 46 marker Advanced Paternal Lineage Test (Y-Chromosome 46).

FamilyTreeDNA has a 12 marker, 37 marker and 67 marker test kit.

FamilyTreeDNA was much more money than DNA testing

Both companies DNA tests included analysis of the markers of a man's Y-DNA as well as predictions of the haplogroup of the paternal lineage. Your haplogroup identifies the general area where your ancestors migrated tens of thousands of years ago.


Eventually I decided to go with the FamilyTreeDNA 37 marker Paternal Y-Chromosome - DNA Test which is $250.00. My husband ordered the DNA testing 33 Marker Paternal Lineage Test (Y-Chromosome 33) which is $79.00. We wanted to try them both to see what the differences were between them.

Then came the wait for the kits to arrive. In my case I also had to work out the logistics of either getting the kit to my brother or getting my brother to drive to my house after the kit arrived.

At least the wait gave me more time to do more reading on the subject! I'll talk about taking the test samples and also the results of the DNA tests in a later post.


Anonymous said...

Looking forward to reading about your experiences. I just received my tests and I'm still trying to figure it all out.

Thomas MacEntee said...

Prices certainly have come down since then, no? I recently blogged about my experience with the familybuilder 17 marker kit: