DNA ancestry tests are becoming more popular as more people go on the quest of discovering their roots and wider relations. DNA tests have made it easier for people to trace their family roots as well as get a rough idea of where their ancestors came from.
What makes these tests even more popular is the fact that several companies are offering commercial DNA testing services for those seeking to explore and discover their roots. Two of these companies are AncestryDNA and 23andMe. Below are a review and comparison of these two companies and the services they offer.
AncestryDNA offers autosomal DNA tests and is part of Ancestry.com which is one of the most popular genealogical sites.
AncestryDNA offers affordable DNA ancestry tests at just $99. This price covers the collection kit as well as all the shipping costs (2-way). The prices can also go as low as $79 if there is a sale.
AncestryDNA claims to have the largest database with more than 2 million people. In addition to that, it is a part of Ancestry.com meaning that it has access to the site’s rich database of historical records and family trees.
Using the Kit:
Once an individual receives the testing kit, they are required to go online and activate it. This is done using a unique code found in the kit. This code ensures that the sample remains anonymous and at the same time, easily traceable throughout the entire process. It is also important to keep person’s name and details confidential. Individuals who already have an Ancestry family tree also have the option of linking their kits to the tree.
Before extracting the saliva sample, people are required to abstain from eating, drinking, smoking or even brushing their teeth for at least 30 minutes before providing the sample. The process of extracting a saliva sample is fast and easy. Once done, one should shake the tube for a few seconds before placing it into the collection bag and the pre-paid shipping box. It is now ready to be shipped back to AncestryDNA.
Testing and Results:
AncestryDNA sends a confirmation of receipt to their clients. This normally happens within two weeks. The window period for clients to get their DNA test results is commonly between six and eight weeks. However, it is possible to receive results as soon as two weeks after sending in the sample. Once received, the results are easy to understand. They also include a biogeographical ancestry analysis.
Pros of AncestryDNA:
- AncestryDNA offers strong security and confidentiality for the samples as well as the results.
- DNA samples are stored indefinitely meaning you do have to take and send them samples again in case of future tests.
- Individuals who find genetic matches have the option of communicating to these matches through the anonymous mail or the message boards on Ancestry.com.
- AncestryDNA also has excellent community forums and online help/customer service.
- Unfortunately, AncestryDNA does not offer separate Y-DNA tests or mtDNA tests.
- The service does not upload raw DNA data from other services
Just like AncestryDNA, 23andMe offers autosomal DNA testing services and has been doing so since 2007. They also provide medical DNA testing services.
Initially, 23andMe provided their services at just $99, but this later they pushed it up to $199. However, this price does not include shipping costs. On the contrary, clients are required to pay a shipping fee of $9.95 for one kit and $5 for each additional kit ordered. It is also important to note that 23andMe ships to all the U.S state except Maryland as well as more than 50 countries around the world.
The service has a database of more than 1 million people worldwide. Although this may be relatively smaller than AncestryDNA’s database, it is still large by all standards.
Using the Kit:
Firstly, individuals are required to provide their names and agree to 23andMe’s terms of service before ordering a kit. The terms and conditions include a section allowing 23andMe to scan the DNA sample for markers of health conditions.
Once the client has received the kit, he/she is required to activate it using a unique bar-code. They are also required to open an account with 23andMe. Name, date of birth and sex information are collected although only the last two are marked on the sample. Clients can also choose whether or not they want to be found by name or whether or not they want their names to be shown to potential matches.
Just like the AncestryDNA test kit, people are asked not to eat, drink, smoke or brush the teeth for at least 3o minutes before extracting the saliva sample. After saliva extraction and closing the lid of the tube, stabilization liquid is released to preserve the sample and prevent any degradation.
Testing and Results:
23andMe sends a confirmation of receipt at least a week after the client has shipped the samples back to them. Customers can get their preliminary results within two weeks after receiving the confirmation of receipt from 23andMe. The full results are then posted to the client’s account after at least a week.
The results are quite detailed; in fact, they are more detailed than those of AncestryDNA. They include sections on Ancestry Composition, Maternal Line, Paternal Line and even a section on Neanderthal Ancestry. However, female clients cannot access their paternal line data as they do not have the Y-chromosome in their DNA. The results also include biogeographical ancestry analysis.
Pros of 23andMe:
- Samples and results of the DNA tests are kept secure and confidential.
- Results are thorough and well detailed.
- The service also provides clients with a chromosome browser that allows them to compare shared chromosomal segments much more easily.
- The DNA samples are stored for any future use.
- The service is relatively more expensive than other autosomal DNA testing services such as AncestryDNA.
- 23andMe does not offer Y-DNA testing or mtDNA testing.
- Does not have quality or rather, reliable genealogical community forums.
- It is harder for clients to communicate and connect with their genetic matches due to the option of restricting contact information which many people choose.