no different then any other DNA testing; you get the same kind of results. But
how the results are used in genealogy is a little different. In genealogy you
upload your data and see if there are other matches (i.e. people) out there in
your same tree that you don’t know about. This brings together folks who are
researching the same ancestor but are not aware of each other.
There are three organizations who are major players: 23andme.com;
FamilyTreeDNA.com; and Ancestry.com. They all do the same thing, but they do
have different focuses.
23andme.com has a chromosome browser. This means you can look at your raw data in graph form, which makes a little more sense. Their primary focus, however, is for health issues in people groups, for example, the Amish. But this is still a useful sight; more on that later. If you want to trace the male/surname line, you might find matches here because of the
target groups they research. However, their gene pool at the moment is not as large as the others. The fact that they have a browser makes them useful. Other sites do not at the moment. What is helpful, you can upload your data from other sites and look at them in the chromosome browser, here.
FamilyTreeDNA.com has a large database for comparison. For YDNA (male) or mtDNA (female) or even autosomal DNA (total) this is the website that will bring you the biggest results. They have a large surname testing project. This would be the place to research unless you want something more on the medical side of your line. FamilyTreeDNA does not have a browser yet, but they are working on it. For now, you can receive your raw data and for a fee, upload it at 23andme.com and look at it in their browser. FamilyTreeDNA does give you the most comprehensive set of results.
Ancestry.com is the third site that is doing genealogy DNA. This is the best place to go for matches in your tree. However, they, too, do not have a browser yet. They are also working on standardizing their terms so that you can receive your raw data and upload it else where and all the terms match. You will probably find your biggest amount of matches here. When it comes to genealogy this is probably the most exciting place as you may find others working on the same ancestor.
There is somewhat of a learning curve because of the terms used in the DNA science. For example: autosomal, mitochondrial, chromosome and others. ISOGG.com is a good website to study. This is an International Society for those involved in genetic genealogy. They have a tab “For Beginners” you can click on and it gives lots of helpful information. DNA 101 also lists terms that are used in this research and what they mean. This is a good reference site.
There is another organization/website that is doing testing: the Genographic Project (genographic.com). The National Geographic in cooperation with IBM and a foundation is providing public testing for DNA. Field researchers at 11 regional centers around the world collect DNA samples from indigenous populations. Different populations have different genetic markers, and by following them through the generations scientists are able to identify the different branches of the human diversity. Indigenous populations provide geographical and cultural context to the genetic markers in their DNA. These clues help recreate past human migration patterns.
Their primary focus aims to map historical human migration patterns by collecting and analyzing DNA samples of people from around the world. FamilyTreeDNA does that actual testing for the Genographic Project. You will receive the results (Data) from the
Any of these tests are easy and simple to perform. A quick swab of the inside of your cheek is all it takes. The costs range from $49 to over $600, depending on what you want done. You can start out small and upgrade over time to spread the costs out.
The Legal Genealogist, Judy Russell has an article on Genealogy DNA that is worth the read. It explains it so that it is easy to understand and sheds more light on the various website then given here. Check out her website here.
She also talks about another website, Gedmatch.com that is being revised but you can still access it. To be able to access the whole website you need to set up an account, but the registration is free; no cost!
Happy Ghost Busting!