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Ethnic DNA Testing and an Coupon

You’ve Got An Coupon:

So, you’ve got an coupon code burning a hole in your pocket, and your anxious to learn more about your family history. Now what do you do?

Getting to the Bottom of Your Roots: 

All humans alive today are at the pinnacle of their ancestral lines.  Each person is part of a line that extends backwards through centuries to the earliest humans on Earth.  The scientific fields of genetic archaeology and DNA testing have developed more and more sophisticated methods to begin to unravel the mystery of where and, more precisely, from whom do people come from.  Today, many countries contain laboratories that help people trace their ethnicity—even to an ancient past—through something as simple as a sample of saliva.

Tracing your ethnic ancestry is easier and more affordable than ever.  Thanks to ancient DNA researchers like Oxford Professor of Human Genetics Bryan Sykes, the field is growing in both popularity and technological advancement.  Sykes published the first study on the retrieval of DNA from an ancient segment of bone.  This work led to the ability to trace mitochondrial DNA, the human storehouse which houses the maternal line of human ancestors.  Sykes eventually founded Oxford Ancestors, a company that allows people to trace their ethnicity to an ancient past.  Today, there are many companies that have this ability and mitochondrial DNA is just one way to unlock the secrets of DNA ethnicity. 

Aside from mitochondria DNA testing, scientists also trace ancestry through Y chromosome testing and autosomal DNA testing.  Mitochondrial DNA operates on the fact that mothers pass on their mitochondrial DNA to all their children—both males and females.  In this way, it is possible to trace the maternal line back in time.  Because of mutations that have occurred over time, scientists are able to separate people into their respective ethnic groups based on these mutations. 

The paternal line can be traced through Y DNA testing.  Since men pass on their Y chromosome to their sons, this form of testing applies only to males.  However, a woman may still benefit from the information this test provides if her father, brother, grandfather, etc…takes this test.  And, as with mitochondrial DNA testing, this test relies on certain mutations in the DNA to sort people into their ethnicity groups. 

Autosomal chromosome testing takes into account the twenty-two of the twenty-three chromosomes a person has in order to measure ancestral background.  These twenty-two chromosomes are a mixture of both the maternal and paternal lines of ancestry.  Companies can assess a person’s chromosomal make up by comparing specific marker values with marker values that occur in different ethnic populations. 

The procedure for participating in any one of these tests typically begins by contacting a company that specializes in DNA testing like Oxford Ancestry in the United Kingdom or DNA Heritage in the United States (and most companies accept customers from throughout the world).  The company should be able to explain which test is best suited for a specific outcome.  Usually the company will mail out a kit that instructs a person to scrape a sample of cells from their mouth—usually along the cheek wall.  This sample is then mailed back to the company and the test is performed.  Results are then mailed back to the participant. 

The procedure itself is simple and easy.  It is also more affordable than ever running typically running between three and four hundred dollars.  Companies can sometimes run additional tests for additional fees that further pinpoint ethnic information since pinpointing only mitochondrial DNA, for example, only provides a small percentage of a person’s complete ethnic ancestry. 

Many people are participating in DNA ethnicity testing purely to satisfy a personal curiosity about their ancestry.  People that have been adopted also tend to seek out the ancestral information these tests can provide.  Sometimes these tests have financial benefits too, since qualifying as a member of a specific ethnic group can amount to monetary benefits such as financial aid for college.  Some companies that offer these testing services even go so far as to promote the tests as great holiday or birthday gifts.  Some companies, like Ancestry by DNA, even accept your payment through Paypal, making the service as easy to pay for as it is to use.