As many of you may know, the DNA testing company 23andMe was formed primarily to provide customers with information about markers which might have an impact on health conditions. In February 2010 the company was the first to offer autosomal DNA testing to the masses when it introduced its Relative Finder product. Two months later Family Tree DNA introduced its Family Finder product. These two are still the premier, direct-to-consumer, autosomal DNA testing companies.
For those of you who are not familiar with DNA testing, there are currently three areas of a person's DNA that are being tested for genealogical purposes. During the first decade of this century, Y-chromosome testing was almost the only vehicle available to family historians. This was a good starting point for genealogists because it supplemented traditional surname research. It allowed researchers to trace paternal lines back many generations. However, its primary limitation is that only men have a Y-chromosome to be tested. Family Tree DNA
remains the premier company for Y-chromosome testing. The company offers the most extensive test to consumers--up to 111 markers. Equally important the company has the largest database against which comparisons can be made.
Mitochondrial DNA testing first became meaningful to genealogists when Family Tree DNA introduced its test of the full mitrochondria at an almost affordable price in 2009. Both sexes can test and the maternal line is what is followed by the results. This test result is even more stable over the centuries on a direct maternal line than is the result of a Y-chromosome test along a direct paternal line.
Autosomal DNA provides information about all a person's ancestral lines--not just the direct paternal and maternal lines. However, that information only matches relatives who share ancestry within the last few generations. The probability that one would match with a given distant relative, who also has tested, can be seen in my prior blog post.
Recently I blogged about a short sighted decision by 23andMe that would have had a negative impact on genetic genealogists and Anne Wojcicki's mea culpa. I am happy to report that Anne is following up on her stated intention to listen to the concerns of the genetic genealogy community. Here is what Dick Eastman had to say about this new development:
23andMe Announces New Ancestry Ambassadors Group - Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter