Beginner’s Guide to Ancestry DNA

a person holding up a photo of their ancestors

Consumer genetic testing has grown at an explosive rate over the last few years. According to an MIT Technology Review report, an estimated 26 million people had taken genetic ancestry tests by the start of 2019. Many more people opt to learn more about their DNA, geographic origins, health conditions, and family history.
If you’re new to the concept of DNA testing and genealogy, then we’ve put together a helpful guide that covers all the basics right here.

Collecting DNA Samples

Consumers looking to learn more about their DNA can get genetic testing done through certain healthcare providers—or increasingly, through direct-to-consumer DNA testing companies such as 23andMe and AncestryDNA. Users can order kits online and then send their DNA (usually spit or a swab test) back to the company for analysis.

Comparing Data to Known Ancestries

DNA analysis primarily focuses on determining the DNA sequence known as genotyping. Sequence variations are used as markers to link specific traits and disease. Additionally, the information gathered is compared to other reference groups that contain similar genetic information. This can help determine the geographic and ethnic origins of your ancestors.

Genetic Information and Health Implications

Genetic testing can also be used to assess an individual’s risk of developing a wide range of diseases. Many DNA testing companies now offer an increasing menu of genetic disease carrier status and health risk testing. The accuracy of these results grows as the number of people taking these tests also increases. Simply put, the larger the database, the easier it is to identify genetic markers for health risks and accurately determine health risks.

a woman reconnecting with her lost grandmother


DNA and Genetic Genealogy

If you want to use DNA information to find a lost family member or a birth parent, then DNA results can help. Start by reviewing the matches provided to you by the company you have tested with, and consider expanding your match pool by uploading your results to an online genealogical database such as GEDMatch. By doing this, you can find many more DNA matches to incorporate into your Research tree.
If you’re unsure where to start, get DNA research assistance at DavisDNA & Family Research. With over 50 years of experience in the industry, our experts combine genetic genealogy services with traditional genealogical research to provide you with more information with ancestry DNA.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact us or call at 727-280-6274.