DNA test interpretation
Confused by what your DNA results mean?
Have them interpreted. Unclear on Y-DNA, autosomal DNA and
Guidance is here.
- this can link you to genetic relatives as far back as 1,000
autosomal DNA - cousin matches 5 to 6 generations back, plus
"ethnicity estimates" which are unreliable
mitochondrial DNA - maternal line from a male or a female
Autosomal DNA (at-DNA) - this analyses the totality of your
DNA - whether male or female - and can help you research all your
"cousin" lines back 5 to 6
generations, about 200 years.
Some of these matches may have connected "paper" genealogies
that can help you break down brick walls and log-jams.
There are a number of
these from different testing companies - Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23&Me
etc. Ancestral Scotland Ltd. recommends and will only interpret
test results from Family Tree DNA -
in this case the Family Finder test. See
If you have been tested by a company other than Family Tree DNA, it may be possible to
transfer these results into the Family Tree DNA database.
Mistrust ethnicity estimates
Most companies who provide at-DNA testing will produce an estimate
of "Ethnicity" or "Origins". These should be taken with a large
pinch of skepticism. They are usually based on:
- samples of modern-day populations in various countries - but
the genetic admixture of a country may have changed a lot since
your ancestors lived there
- what test participants claim to be their ancestral origins -
which may be wrong, or not what they think.
This does not mean "39% of your ancestry is from Central Europe"
It means “39% of your DNA is similar to the DNA of modern
populations in that area”.
And saying "61% from England, Wales and Scotland" is not very
Also, these estimates differ wildly between the various testing
Some people also
take these tests:
Y-DNA - for males only,
indicating origins and matches as far as 1,000 years ago.
mitochondrial DNA -
maternal line back from a male or a female who takes a test.