The precision of mitochondrial testing for the consumer genealogy market changed radically in 2009. This was brought about by the introduction of Full Genome Spectrum (FGS) testing to the masses at an almost affordable price. Here-to-fore, only small strips of the mitochondria had been tested—generally a sequence at the beginning and a sequence at the end. The FGS test is billed as the last mitochondrial test one would ever have to test because it tested the entire mitochondria.
Most of the previous limitations remained. Only the direct maternal line could be traced backward in time. However, more mutations could be detected because they had previously been outside the area being examined. Therefore, more branching of the human tree could be identified. As a result, the haplogroups could be divided into smaller and more homogeneously useful subgroups.
The downside for the short term is that relatively few individuals have tested at the FGS level. It will take time—perhaps a few years--for the databases of tested individuals to grow large enough so that most of those who have tested to this level can expect to find meaningful matches to aid their genealogical research. It is too early to know if this level of exploration will ever be as useful as a 67 marker y-chromosome test now is for tracing paternal lines. Only a few more years of accumulated experience will tell.
Next time we will start to explore testing for other than direct paternal and direct maternal lines.