4 Different Types of DNA Testing, Explained


Are you curious to know more about your family history? Maybe, you’re concerned about possible medical conditions? Or do you need to determine who the father of your child is for legal reasons?

DNA testing can give you the answers to these questions and more! 

DNA tests are 99.9% accurate. While there are several different DNA tests, all DNA is made up of the same components. So, depending on who is doing the testing and what information you wish to know can help you determine the best DNA test for you. 

So, what is a DNA test? DNA testing focuses on specific markers. These markers are particular portions of an individual’s genetic code that contains valuable information on family history. 

There are 4 common types of DNA tests. Each type of DNA testing examines a different portion of DNA that can determine paternal family lines, maternal family lines, or general ancestral family lines.

Let’s dig into 4 common types of DNA testing and how they work.  

1. Y-DNA Test

Y-DNA tests examine the Y-chromosome. This type of DNA testing is unique in tracing the patrilineal ancestry or male family line. This is because y-chromosomes are passed down from fathers to sons with almost no changes.

A Y-DNA test can give you information on paternal haplogroup, ethnicity, relative matches, and story for a surname. Also, a Y-DNA test can reach back to about 5 or 6 generations.

Women, however, don’t have Y chromosomes and therefore cannot take a Y-DNA test. Additionally, information from the maternal family line can’t be determined through a Y-DNA test.

2. X-DNA Tests

X-DNA tests are the least common DNA tests out of the 4 DNA tests on this list. An X-DNA test is similar to a Y-DNA test, but it tests the X chromosome instead of testing for the Y chromosome.

Females can inherit a combination of X chromosomes from both the paternal and maternal sides. However, males only inherit one X chromosome from the mother.

Therefore, any gender can choose to take an X-DNA test, but it may not be the most accurate DNA test available for females to determine their maternal side.

3. Mitochondrial DNA Test 

Unlike a Y-DNA test, a mitochondrial DNA test (mtDNA test) can trace the matrilineal ancestry or mother family line. Mitochondrial DNA tests are also more accurate than X-DNA tests for females wanting to know more about their maternal family line. 

An mtDNA tests the mitochondria of the cells because the mitochondria are passed from mothers to their children. However, since the mitochondria are only passed down from women, it will only determine the maternal family line.

Although an mtDNA test will only give you information on the maternal side, all genders can take an mtDNA test. Anyone can take a mitochondrial DNA test because everyone carries mitochondria in their cells, unlike a Y-DNA test where only males carry a Y chromosome necessary to perform the test.

4. Autosomal DNA Tests

Unlike Y-DNA tests and mtDNA tests, which only trace paternal or maternal lines, autosomal DNA can trace both family lines. Autosomal DNA tests can trace both family lines because it uses a segment of DNA that’s shared between anyone related. 

An autosomal DNA test can give you information on ethnicity and cousin matches of both the maternal family line and paternal family line within about 5 to 6 generations. With autosomal DNA tests, ethnicity percentage and close relationships can be determined with a high level of accuracy.

Autosomal DNA tests are most accurate when looking into immediate family matches. However, they can find genetic matches up to 6 generations. In some cases, they can reach even further back than that. 

Types of DNA Testing

DNA testing is an accurate and beneficial tool for many people. Whether you are curious to know more about your family history or have to prove paternity for legal reasons, DNA testing can quickly give you the answers you need.

Depending on how far back, your gender, and which ancestral line you wish to know more about, you can determine which types of DNA testing are the best for you. 

Did you enjoy this article? If so, make sure you check out more of our great articles available on this blog.

About Author

LaDonna Dennis

LaDonna Dennis is the founder and creator of Mom Blog Society. She wears many hats. She is a Homemaker*Blogger*Crafter*Reader*Pinner*Friend*Animal Lover* Former writer of Frost Illustrated and, Cancer...SURVIVOR! LaDonna is happily married to the love of her life, the mother of 3 grown children and "Grams" to 3 grandchildren. She adores animals and has four furbabies: Makia ( a German Shepherd, whose mission in life is to be her attached to her hip) and Hachie, (an OCD Alaskan Malamute, and Akia (An Alaskan Malamute) who is just sweet as can be. And Sassy, a four-month-old German Shepherd who has quickly stolen her heart and become the most precious fur baby of all times. Aside from the humans in her life, LaDonna's fur babies are her world.

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