Humans have unique personalities and signature looks; in many cases, we find that we may not have identical features although we are related to our siblings. Somewhere down the line of our ancestors, we each inherit traits and features, and if you’re lucky enough to know your family history through stories and pictures, you will understand your identity much better.
Nowadays, DNA testing gives you the opportunity to learn about your family history and origin, from their region, health history, and physical traits, drawing you a map to specific characteristics and inherited identity. With many different DNA testing methods, including using a saliva test kit, results can be readily available in a few weeks. The science behind DNA is found in human body cells in replicating form, which means that all the cells in a human body carry a certain amount of DNA.
There are typically four chemical bases that form DNA and are responsible for revealing the much-needed information when testing. When DNA cells split, the duplicated chemicals transfer into the new cells without losing the identity of the old cell. When doing a DNA test heritage, the relevant information found in a person’s genome reveals family identity and history utilising saliva or blood samples. Here are a few commonly used genetic tests and the benefits of DNA heritage tests.
Single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) DNA testing
The entire class of genes found in organisms or cells is formed with single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs). To estimate and determine something as vast as an individual’s cultural; background, SNP is assessed. Throughout our DNA, SNP exists constituting nucleotides, known as a single DNA building block. In essence, a single nucleotide polymorphism contains about 300 nucleotides, and almost ten million SNPs make up the entire human genetics.
Passed through genetics, these SNP differences exist in DNA, and they act as biological data to determine our cultural and ancestral background. DNA testing goes as far as tracking any diseases that may be inherited through family genetics. The single nucleotide polymorphism is compared against contrast results from previously tested people to arrive at an estimated outcome for cultural background. SNP testing is conducted to paint an overall cultural background picture for an individual compared to the Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA testing.
Mitochondrial DNA testing
Unlike single nucleotide polymorphism testing, mitochondrial DNA testing aims to isolate genetic discrepancies in cell-based mitochondria anatomies. On the female side, genealogists conduct mitochondrial DNA tests to isolate DNA building blocks of 16,000, which allows them to trace and reveal information in the direct line of ancestry. Containing more than 30 genetic blocks, genealogists generally conduct this test to show data that may somewhat become extinct over time as a result of women marrying into different family names. Unlike the Y chromosome, the mitochondrial DNA tests can be conducted on both males and females, as it is inherited from the mother.
Y chromosome DNA testing
Y chromosome DNA testing is typically done on males because females do not have Y chromosome DNA, which means it is sex-dependent to get the result. In every cell, people generally have two sex chromosomes. While men carry both W and Y chromosomes, females are paired with two X chromosomes. Although the Y chromosome accounts for a small fraction in a DNA cell, it is strong enough to spread across fifty million blocks of DNA.
The male dominant Y chromosome is generally inherited down the male side of the family, from father to son. People who bear the same surname usually undergo Y chromosome testing to determine any ancestral relation.
Find your living relatives
There are a number of benefits of DNA testing for heritage, and finding close relatives is one of the most complex things to do, and with DNA testing, this is possible. You are aware of living relatives but have no geographical location to find and connect with them. With DNA testing, genetic genealogy is a great way to help locate your relatives. To help find relatives near and far from you, the process of genetic genealogy and DNA begins with comparing your non-sex chromosomes and general DNA samples found in the data bank.
Using any of the testing methods mentioned above, single nucleotide polymorphism, mitochondrial, and Y chromosome DNA testing, ancestral data can be collected and help reveal important information. If you have any long-lost cousins, uncles, aunts, siblings, or even parents, DNA testing can reunite you with your loved ones.
Construct an accurate family tree
A family tree is essential when tracking family members and getting to understand your family history. Whether you are putting together a family tree, or your family has an existing diagram, DNA testing can help with accurate family data for a precise family tree.
DNA results help you compare the accuracy of your current family tree; however, if you do not have one constructed yet, the DNA information can help with creating your family history quickly, accurately, and faster. People use DNA information for various reasons but ultimately want security for who they are biologically related to, whether it be their parents, great-grandparents, or reveal a long-kept family secret.
Make more informed health decisions
Health complications can be inherited through DNA from your ancestors. DNA testing can help you mitigate or live better with underlying disorders, illnesses, or other diseases to make better and informed decisions. DNA testing is an accurate tool that can help reveal your family’s physical traits like dimples or hair thickness and the chances of you inheriting identical physical characteristics.
In addition to the mutation carried by your family, DNA testing can reveal whether they were athletic or not. The most significant benefit of DNA testing with regards to health, it can detect the risk of diseases like cancer, Parkinson’s diseases, Alzheimer’s, coeliac diseases. Although results may come back as negative, having this data allows you to be a step ahead of any possible inherited health conditions and prepare preventive measures.
Ellen Diamond did her degree in psychology at the University of Edinburgh. She has a particular interest in mental health and well-being.
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