Best DNA Testing Kits 2019 – Genetic Testing for Ancestry …

Posted: January 17, 2019 at 9:48 am

How Much Do DNA Testing Kits Cost?Most ancestry DNA kits cost about $100. AncestryDNA, 23andMes Ancestry test and National Geographics Geno 2.0 test all fall nicely into that price point. If youre looking for a bargain, we recommend waiting to buy until your preferred test is on sale, as theyre often available well below their usual price. To get the most for your money, buy an Ancestry or 23andMe kit on sale then upload your Raw data to MyHeritage DNAs database, which is free.

How Accurate Are DNA Ancestry Tests?Our testers took multiple DNA ancestry tests, and the services returned slightly different results for each person. This doesnt necessarily mean that any one company is more accurate than another. Every DNA testing service uses its own algorithm and data set different reference populations drawn from different databases. Nacho Esteban of 24Genetics told us, Ancestry is not an exact science. The top five companies in the world would show very similar results when talking about continents; the similarity is smaller when talking about countries. In regional ancestry, some border regions are difficult to identify and sometimes there may be discrepancies. So we cannot take the information as something 100% sure. But at the end, it gives a great picture of where our ancestors were from.

In our tests, we did find consistency across our results on the continental level. For example, my ancestry is exclusively East Asian, but 23andMe breaks it down into 80 percent Korean, 10.5 percent Japanese and 0.8 percent Chinese, with the remaining 8.7 percent in broader categories. However, Ancestry reports my DNA as 98 percent Korean and Northern Chinese, with only 2 percent Japanese. National Geographic places 85 percent of my ancestry from Northeastern Asia and 14 percent from the South China Sea region, with my DNA most closely matching the Korean and Japanese reference populations.

Database Size & Reference PopulationsWhen asked about how database size affects ancestry results, David Nicholson, co-founder of Living DNA, told us, The tests absolutely rely on the reference database. If you have Polish ancestry but there are no people in the database who are Polish, then what the test will do is show what the next closest group is next to Polish, like German or Eastern European ancestry. Each ancestry DNA service has its own sample database and reference panel made of the DNA samples collected from their users and information collected from sources like the 1000 Genomes Project. The database consists of all this information collectively. A reference panel is made of certain curated samples with known family history and roots in a specific place. The services use insights gleaned from the reference panel to give you geographical ancestry results. In theory, a larger database leads to more information available to create a good reference panel, which then leads to better results for customers.

In testing, we found that many tests have much more specific and detailed results for European ancestry than anywhere else. This is due more to the diversity of the database than size. For example, AncestryDNA has the largest database with over 10 million samples yet results for Asian ancestry are markedly less specific than results from several companies with much smaller databases, including 23andMe and Living DNA. Instead of pulling reference samples directly from the existing database, however, many companies seek out high quality data with special research projects. 23andMe, for example, offers its Global Genetics project, which sends free kits to people with all four grandparents born in certain countries that are underrepresented in the database.

Should I Buy a DNA Test?

Direct-to-consumer DNA tests are still relatively new. The first ancestral DNA test launched in 2001 by FamilyTreeDNA, but companies didnt start genotyping autosomal DNA until 2007. Still, tests and results have come a long way since then, with much lower prices and streamlined sample collection, registration and results. If youre still on the fence about whether or not to buy a DNA ancestry test for yourself or as a gift, here are a few things to consider.

Why You Should Test Your DNA

DNA tests offer a wealth of insights into your connections to family, history and geographical locations. They both entertain and encourage you to dig into what you know about yourself. The tests make great gifts to bring you closer to your family and involve you and your family in the development of a cutting-edge science at the same time. Beyond that, the information is extremely useful for adoptees, people looking for lost relatives, genealogists and for medical science.

Many DNA databases, including Ancestry, 23andMe and MyHeritage DNA, have family search features, which match your DNA with that of potential relatives. These features help users searching for family, including adoptees and children conceived through sperm donations. Almost every DNA testing service we interviewed for this article had a story ready about how its service facilitated a heartwarming family reunion. Like these from Ancestry, this one from MyHeritage andthis one from 23andMe. Because many DNA services also have resources like family tree builders, the tests work in tandem with genealogical research.

For better ancestry and medical insights, you should encourage family members, especially parents and grandparents, to take a DNA test as well. If your family is from a specific geographical location for generations, your samples could potentially improve the service's reference panel, in turn improving results for everyone. If youre female and take a test from 23andMe or LivingDNA, you can view paternal haplogroup information, and you get more information when one of your male family members takes a test as well.

Why You Shouldnt Test Your DNA

There are several examples of people finding out a little more than they wanted because of results from a direct-to-consumer DNA test. There are Facebook communities full of people who found out they have different parents. Theres little you can do to prepare for that shock, though most services with family matching features do include warnings about unexpected discoveries in their terms of service. You can also opt to not receive family matches if youre simply looking for medical or geographical ancestry information.

Another reason you may want to avoid taking a DNA test is if youve committed a crime or you know someone closely related to you has committed a crime. Law enforcement has recently taken to testing DNA evidence from crime scenes through open DNA databases like GEDmatch after successfully solving several cold cases after the arrest of the Golden State Killer in April 2018. There are several open DNA databases floating around the internet, where people upload their raw DNA data after taking another test like 23andMe or Ancestry. Most companies do not release database information to law enforcement, however, a recent study estimates that up to 60% of Americans with European heritage can be identified via third-cousin-or-closer DNA using publicly available data.

DNA Traits

In addition to showing geographic ancestry percentages, some direct-to-consumer DNA tests also include insights about physical traits like hair and eye color. With 23andMe, this trait information is mostly available in the upgraded Ancestry + Health kit, but some interesting tidbits can be found in the Your DNA Family report, which is available if you opt to participate in the DNA Relatives service. This report tells you interesting information, such as that your DNA relatives are 32 percent more likely to own a cat or 11 percent less likely to have lived near a farm when they were young. DNA Passport by Humancode offers information about more than 20 physical traits, from appearance to grip strength. Ancestry DNA recently added its AncestryDNA Traits upgrade for $10, and it lets customers who have already taken one of its tests unlock information about 18 genetically influenced traits, including bitter taste perception, freckles and cilantro aversion.

Most of this trait data tells you things you already know, like your hair and eye color, but it is fun to see them compared to your genetic relatives and the world at large. We also found it fascinating to learn more about how these physical traits are genetically determined. For example, finger length ratio is determined by hormonal exposure in the womb, with higher testosterone exposure resulting in a better chance of having a longer ring finger. 23andMes Health report for finger length ratio looks at 15 gene markers to estimate your likelihood of having longer ring fingers or index fingers.

Types of DNA

Of the 23 pairs of chromosomes in the human genome, 22 are autosomes. Most direct-to-consumer DNA tests look primarily at your autosomal DNA to determine your geographic ancestry percentages. This DNA is a mix of inherited DNA segmentshalf from each parent. Because everyone inherits at least one X chromosome from their mother, DNA tests often include the X chromosome in autosomal testing, though the X chromosome is not an autosome.

The 23rd pair of chromosomes is comprised of sex chromosomes X and Y chromosomes that determine whether youre male (XY) or female (XX). Traits like red-green color blindness, male pattern baldness and hemophilia are specifically linked to X or Y chromosomes and are called sex-linked characteristics. All of those examples, and most other sex-linked traits, are X-linked and more common in males, who only have one X chromosome. Many DNA tests isolate Y DNA in males to show consumers their paternal haplogroup. Since the Y chromosome is directly inherited from father to son, it is possible to trace direct paternal lineage for many generations.

Similarly, mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, is used by direct-to-consumer DNA tests to trace your direct maternal lineage and determine maternal haplogroups. While most DNA lives in your cells' nuclei, mtDNA lives in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the cells' powerhouses their 37 genes are necessary for cellular energy production and respiration. Previous research suggested that mtDNA is inherited directly from your mother, but a recent study found that biparental mtDNA may be more common. This discovery may affect maternal haplogroup testing in DNA tests in the future, but for now, its safe to assume your results are correct.

Genotyping vs. Sequencing

Most of the services we tested use genotyping to read your DNA. Genotyping looks for specific markers in your genetic code. For something like ancestry testing, genotyping is effective because it identifies known variants in your DNA. Scientifically speaking, genotypings weakness is that it can only recognize previously identified markers. This is one reason DNA tests accuracy relies so heavily on the DNA database size; there must be enough information available and identified genetic variants in the database to recognize new customers markers.

A few of the DNA tests we tested, including the National Geographic Geno 2.0, use genetic sequencing instead of genotyping. Sequencing is newer in the mainstream direct-to-consumer DNA testing market, as it used to cost more and take much longer to sequence a persons DNA. Sequencing identifies the exact makeup of a certain piece of DNA be it a short segment or the whole genome. The Helix tests sequence the Exome, which are the parts of the genome responsible for protein production, plus several other regions of interest. DNA sequencing gives more information overall and has more uses in medical testing than genotyping. In the future, more DNA kits may move from genotyping to DNA sequencing as the technology gets cheaper and faster, but for now both are effective ways to look into your geographic ancestry.

DNA Testing Your Pet

Beyond ancestry tests, there are at-home DNA kits available for everything from vitamin regimens to dating sites. There are even DNA test kits for your furry friends. Companies like Embark, Wisdom Panel and many others offer genetic health risk screenings, trait analyses and breed percentage information for dogs. These canine ancestry tests allow you to confidently state that your mutt is part Irish wolf hound and give you key information about your pets heritage for insights into potential health issues. For example, if you found out one of your rescue dogs parents was likely a purebred boxer, you could speak with your vet about breed-specific needs. Or if you find out your cute new puppy of indeterminate origin is mostly Bernese mountain dog, you can expect it to grow very large.

Like direct-to-consumer DNA tests for humans, these dog kits require a DNA sample, usually a cheek swab. They also fall in a similar price range, from $60 up to $200 for services with health information in addition to breed identification. Because there are so many canine DNA tests to choose from, we recommend shopping based on the companys sample database and the number of breeds the company tests for.

If youre looking for genetic information about your feline friend, there are fewer options, though Basepaws DNA CatKit promises information about your cats breed and traits with just a hair sample. It also offers swab kits for hairless cats. The company is fairly new and claims that results take up to four months, though most are delivered within eight to 12 weeks. The kit costs $95 and also tells you how closely related your kitty is to wild cats like lions, tigers and (bears, oh my!) ocelots.

DNA Testing for Children

Since genome sequencing is still a relatively young science, we don't recommend submitting your childs DNA to direct-to-consumer companies. We do encourage consulting with your doctor about genetic testing for your child. Due to some concerns with the DNA testing industry, the choice to have ones genes sequenced by a private company should be made with informed consent. Those concerns are magnified when applied to children, who cannot make their own decisions regarding the unlikely potential risks or privacy concerns.

Once your genetic information is out there, its difficult to undo. Also, once you know something about yourself, its impossible to un-know. Revelations such as having different parents than you expected or finding unknown half-siblings are difficult to process at any age, but its particularly troubling for kids. However, you can always simply opt out of family matching features.

Similarly, on the health side, finding out your child has a gene connected to cancer or another disease can induce unnecessary anxiety, especially since a genetic predisposition to a certain disease does not always guarantee a diagnosis.

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Best DNA Testing Kits 2019 - Genetic Testing for Ancestry ...

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