Ancestry DNA Analysis

GenomeLink's Ancestry Analysis is a powerful tool that uses your DNA to provide insights into your ancestry composition. Get personalized ancestry reports and explore your family's history with GenomeLink's Ancestry Analysis.

Looking into your genetic genealogy – a.k.a., your ancestry DNA – is an empowering method for exploring who you are, where you come from, and what sort of dispositions you might be prone to throughout your lifetime. 

If you’ve gone down the ancestry DNA testing route, you’re probably familiar with platforms like AncestryDNA, 23andMe, or MyHeritage – but if you’re ready to take it a step beyond ancestry DNA, it’s time for you to look into Genomelink. Raw ancestry DNA analysis is a great start to gather insights into your genetic makeup and family history. Once you upload and access your ancestry DNA testing from one of the aforementioned companies, you are provided with additional pieces of the genetic puzzle, like: extensive health history, unique traits, family finder tools, ancient ancestry, and more. But before we dive too deeply into the analytics side of things, you might still be wondering what ancestry DNA testing is to begin with. We’ll fill you in.

DNA: What our unique code tells us about ourselves

Testing your ancestry DNA is becoming increasingly popular. Whether you received a test as a Christmas gift, sought one out on your own, or just happened to come across a company that conducts them, people throughout the world are looking into their genealogy – but what exactly does that entail? Each person’s DNA consists of a unique string of four different letters: A (adenine), C (cytosine), G (guanine), and T (thymine). It sounds simple, but the code is about 3 billion letters long, and in that total exists many, many variances when it comes to human makeup. Within that extensive code lies the key to who we are. DNA explains why you look the way you look, what sort of diseases or illnesses you may be prone to, how you learn new concepts or problem-solve, and how all of this information applied to your ancestors. People with piqued interest turn to ancestry DNA analysis to tap into these details and explore their specific origins as humans. 

What is an ancestry DNA analysis?

An ancestry DNA analysis will reveal these details about you through a variety of tests. There are a few different options available depending on what sort of information you’re looking for, but these three are the most commonly used:

  • Y chromosome testing

The Y chromosome – a.k.a., the male bloodline in your DNA – is often used to explore ancestry. This type of test poses a few drawbacks, though: the main one being that it only works for those with a Y chromosome in their genetic makeup. However, even if you’re without a Y chromosome, you can consult someone in your family with one to conduct the test on your behalf. This leaves a bit more room for error, but if done correctly, this type of test can determine ethnic history, paternal ancestors in common, or whether or not two family members with the same surname are related. 

  • Mitochondrial DNA testing

This approach to ancestry DNA testing determines genetic variations that come from mitochondrial DNA: a.k.a., the circular chromosome found inside the body’s mitochondria. No matter your gender, you have mitochondrial DNA, so this type of DNA test is less restrictive than the Y chromosome approach. However, the mitochondrial DNA itself is passed on through egg cells, which means these test results will only bear information on a person’s direct female ancestral line. This type of test will reveal common maternal ancestors among people, narrow down potential familial matches for those on the hunt, and provide ancient maternal ancestral insights. If you’re focused on researching your maternal family line, this is the test you’ll want to turn to.

  • Single nucleotide polymorphism testing

Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) tests evaluate large amounts of a person’s individual genomic variations. The results are then weighed against similar SNPs within the wider database, which helps a person hone in on their ethnic background. For example: if you’ve tried 23andMe, AncestryDNA, or My Heritage, chances are you’ve seen a percentage breakdown of your ethnic makeup, like “70 percent African, 10 percent European, 10 percent Asian, and 10 percent unknown.” That information is drawn from an SNP, which captures your entire ancestral background instead of the details of one direct line. Within these types of tests lies more room for error – especially when the results are being weighed against a mass database of similar results. Feedback is more likely to be “unknown,” or worse: unwittingly inaccurate. However, if you’re looking for a more overarching view of your ancestry, this might be the move for you.

The importance of testing your ancestry DNA

Ancestry DNA tests undeniably provide people with somewhat extensive insights into their family history, genetic makeup, and health predispositions: but what exactly is the value in pursuing this type of information? Here are a few things to consider if you’re wondering whether or not a genealogical test is something you want to look into:

  • DNA testing helps you establish a blueprint for improved health.

A DNA test will reveal your health and medical history, which helps individuals determine whether or not they’re prone to certain diseases or conditions. This type of information can help you tailor your lifestyle to optimize your health. From diet plans and activity levels to essential vitamins and minerals, you’ll have the tools you need to establish a plan that can extend your lifespan based on your unique makeup. 

  • DNA testing can help you reconnect with family members – or connect with them for the first time.

Whether you’re looking to make extended connections with family members or just find some to begin with, DNA tests can act as a family tree by linking paternal and/or maternal lineages. This is great for those who are creating family trees or researching specific family members.

  • DNA testing can prove parental lineage.

In the same vein of maternal or paternal lineage, DNA tests can help you reveal the true nature of your parental origins. This is especially helpful for anyone looking to debunk possible suspicions – just make sure you’re mentally prepared for this sort of revelation.

  • DNA testing can help you figure out if you’re living in a healthy environment. 

DNA tests are also helpful for environmental reasons. For example: maybe your family is historically prone to cold weather-related illnesses, or sensitive to a certain type of soil. These are details you’d perhaps never uncover about yourself if it weren’t for testing your DNA, and it could help inform whether or not you should continue living in your current area or environment.

How does an ancestry DNA test work?

Now that you understand what ancestry DNA tests look for and the different types of tests are available, you’re probably wondering what you have to do in order to retrieve these sorts of results. The requirements may vary slightly depending on which DNA testing company you utilize, but generally, you’ll be asked to share blood, saliva, or hair follicle samples with your company of choice – usually via test tube in the mail. Once that’s done, you’ve completed your role, and all you have to do is wait. The company will extract your DNA from the sample’s cells and begin the examination. Your DNA will be looked at from the perspective of an overall database to determine whether or not you have any ancestral matches on the platform. This could potentially match you with family members from around the world – and your ancestral heritage will also be reported in the form of a percentage similar to the example we shared earlier (“70 percent African, 10 percent European, 10 percent Asian, and 10 percent unknown”).  Here are a few things to keep in mind when waiting on your ancestry DNA test results:

  • Ancestry DNA test results aren’t always 100 percent accurate.

While ancestry tests can be exciting to review – especially as a group looking to learn more about collective heritage – it’s important to remember that they aren’t always completely accurate. The likelihood of accuracy increases if other members of your family have participated in similar testing on the same platform you’re utilizing, as that increases the platform’s ability to connect DNA. However, if you’re the first of your herd to take this sort of test, you’re at a higher risk for inaccurate results.

  • Your ancestry doesn’t determine 100 percent of who you are, or why you behave the way you do.

Ancestry definitely answers a lot of questions surrounding health history, familial connections, and heritage. However, several other things can come into a person’s genetic play, like upbringing, environment, learned behavior, and more. 

It’s important to remember that these sort of test results don’t explain the full picture of who you are as a person, and ancestry DNA analyses should always be taken with a grain of salt and an open mind. 

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