The use of DNA testing for genealogical research became popular in the nineties with high profile cases being decided as a result of DNA use.
In certain cases, it was used to disprove relationships between people who had been long deceased. Cases like the last Czar of the Russian family and the Hemmings case both received considerable media attention.
This was the basis for genealogical research using DNA coming to the commercial market starting from the 2000s.
Today, there are numerous companies offering such services.
According to MyFamilyDNATest.com, there are 4 leading ancestry/family tree DNA testing companies in the mass market today:
- FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder
- 23AndMe.com; and,
- the Geni 2.0 Project from NatGeo.
Many people often find themselves requiring DNA testing, often in complex and emotionally draining circumstances. This makes it important to choose a company that will offer the right level of quality, accuracy, and conclusiveness.
Here are a few things to look for when selecting such a firm for your genealogy DNA project.
Choose a DNA testing company that has the certification to handle the job.
Often, US courts and health departments provide accreditation to companies that offer such services for legal uses. This is so that their results are admissible in court and can help in settling legal disputes.
Even when a court case is not the intention of the test, having an accredited company perform the test provides an extra assurance of quality. In particular, look for AABB certification.
Formerly the American Association of Blood Banks, AABB is now the foremost certification authority for DNA testing labs throughout the US.
It may seem cliché, but it is important to choose a company that offers the highest levels of certainty in the tests it performs.
The certainty levels all depend on the complexity of the genetic relationships involved and the people being tested.
Such tests as sibling analysis and grand parentage results might in some instances be less conclusive, so make sure to be clear on the levels of certainty expected in every situation.
Experience and Credibility
In every service delivery sector, even one with such high stakes and confidentiality conditions such as this, the experience and credibility of the company still counts for something. Companies that have been in the business for a long time are more likely to provide reliable services than those that have only just opened.
However, to be sure, dig deeper into the company’s reputation before committing. While it might be difficult to get access to information about past clients, news about reputations travels fast.
Ask around from trusted friends, acquaintances or family. Companies that conduct tests for the government, hospitals or legal departments are almost always a good option.
Customer care is one of the most important aspects of the services provided by a DNA testing company, both in terms of quality and from a legal protection perspective.
In many countries or territories, it is required that one be given the opportunity to consider the possible repercussions of the possible outcomes of the test.
The process of DNA testing for genealogy projects is often shrouded in difficult emotional situations.
The level of confidentiality and quality of expert advice given by the company must be up to a very high standard.
Even in the DNA testing sector, there are accreditations and awards.
Look for the company that has such accreditations as the international ISO award and other industry-based awards and accreditations.
Ask the company about the frequency and details of both internal and external quality monitoring procedures.
Departments of Health and Justice have rules and codes of conduct in place to govern the industry and ensure ethical and accurate service provision. However, it is important to ask about the procedures to ensure one is comfortable with their approach.
Types of DNA Tests Offered
Finding the right DNA Test company requires basic information about the type of test you need.
Typically, there are three categories of tests:
- Autosomal and
Y-DNA testing banks on information found in the Y chromosome, found and passed down from father to son for centuries. Females do not have this gene, but might have a male relative tested on their behalf to reveal such information. Y-DNA tests are used most often for Paternity testing and for supplementing ancestry/genealogy projects.
MtDNA, on the other hand, is useful in determining the maternal line. MtDNA stands for mitochondrial DNA, which, although carried by both males and females, can only be passed down from females to their children.
Autosomal DNA does not follow any distinct lines and are shuffled from one generation to the next with only half of the chromosomes passed down. Autosomal tests are useful in finding information about recent cousins, up to five generations in the past. Autosomal DNA test is especially useful in longer-term ethnicity DNA tests like the Geni 2.0 Project.
In case you are looking for somewhere to start, FamilyTreeDNA.com offers a great line of tests – and the best DNA matching database in the business.