LivingDNA kits Anyone familiar with this company?

+2 votes
I have one of the last remaining direct line males from my ancestor. Joseph Britton, located and he's agreed to take a yDNA test.  I've been playing hide and seek with this guy for over 40 years and I don't  like it anymore.

I got one shot at this, and I want the big guns.  I was considering the Familytree kit but that's where I had my aunts mtDNA done and I can't do anything with it, except on their site.  It's like they're holding it for ransom.

I want to be able to upload results multiple places to maximize the possibility of finding a match.

I'm looking at the full meal deal at LivingDNA, but it's so inexpensive compared to Familytree, I'm kind of leery.

Any thoughts, opinions, suggestions?

WikiTree profile: Joseph Britton
in Genealogy Help by Debbie Barrett G2G1 (1.7k points)
edited by Ellen Smith

2 Answers

+14 votes
Best answer
If he is your last remaining direct male line, go to FTDNA. They are the yDNA specialists, and as you say you are only going to get one shot given it sounds like you are particularly interested in the direct male Britton line.

Yes LivingDNA will give you a broad haplogroup, but no ability to join projects for either your surname or haplogroup project and to compare yDNA results with others.

LivingDNA is autosomal DNA with a few y/mtDNA SNPs thrown in and is   more focussed on ethnicity breakdowns than on matching, which it has only recently started offering, after many years of promises.

FTDNA has many many projects whose volunteer project admins (no affiliation to FTDNA, just DNA addicts) are a wealth of knowledge on either the surname or haplogroups or areas their projects are for, and generally advise people on what tests are most suited to what you are trying to gain from DNA testing.

FTDNA has been offering yDNA testing for many many years being the pioneer for Direct to Consumer DNA testing.

FTDNA also keeps your sample on file and it can be used for upgrades, sufficient viable DNA remaining of course, as you need different tests without needing a re-scrape.

If your candidate is elderly, I would suggest that you also contact FTDNA before ordering to ensure they include an extra swab and vial to make sure later upgrades may indeed be more likely, and start at the largest yDNA test you can afford of the y37/111 marker tests offered. If you get hooked and /or get fascinating yDNA matches, upgrade at a sale to BigY700 for the most precise placement on the yDNA tree of mankind, which placement keeps on giving as more people upgrade and the tree expands.

I would add FamilyFinder as well.

Although you cannot transfer that into Ancestry, you CAN transfer atDNA from FTDNA to MyHeritage and GEDmatch for free, with a small charge to unlock additional tools beyond basic match lists and ability to contact matches

Check Roberta Estes' blogposts on yDNA testing at

there are many helpful posts there.

The uploads to multiple places you refer to are more focussed on autosomal DNA (what Ancestry, MyHeritage, 23andme, FTDNA's FamilyFinder and LivingDNA offer) but yes, there are places you can transfer your yDNA raw data results to for alternate analyses (, The DNA Data Warehouse being two that spring to mind) and some others just for sharing results.

mtDNA isn't being held for ransom, it is simply not the most useful test for genealogical timeframe matching, UNLESS you have a particular problem to solve and can find candidates down from eg the two families you wish to compare on the direct maternal line. Only FTDNA offers mtrDNA testing, with matching, and again, projects.

Autosomal testing  is more suited to confirming recent generations on your tree on all lines.

Hope this helps.

PS watch out for regular sales.
by Lorna Henderson G2G6 Mach 2 (22k points)
selected by Debbie Barrett

Also you can upload your yDNA and mtDNA files to to look for matches for free.

thanks for the very insightful answer.   I think you've helped me make up my mind.  He is getting up there,  so I want to make sure we get it done now.   A cousin actually had another elderly male cousin tested and as she was going to send the kit back, he went into a nursing facility and is now incapacitated and his wife went let her do it.

I'm striking while the iron is .

I'd love to do just that but they're not making it available in anything but a FASTA file. Do they take those?  Other sites don't.


Debbie, I'll second what Lorna said...and especially about trying to ensure that get two sample kits and send two sets of two vials each back to FTDNA. Further, the viability of the sample has a great deal to do with the quality of the cheek swab. It sounds like your relative might not be too eager about the whole deal, and the last thing you want is a lackadaisical cheek swab.

If at all possible, get him eagerly pumped-up for the test, and convince him to follow the included directions (I also recommend scraping longer than described; a solid 60 seconds is always good). Failing that, see if there is any way you or a trusted 3rd party can do the cheek swab for him. A bunch of epithelial cells in each vial is crucial.

If the funds are available, go for the Big Y-700 right off. If this is the last male in an ancestral line, you're correct: the buck stops with him. The Big Y will use up one sample vial of material, but you will never need another yDNA test. The whole sequence sampling depth is up to and over 60X for that test, and it will also examine up to a total of 838 STRs (short tandem repeat) markers.

The detailed full-sequence data is available in what's called a BAM file; it's an optional purchase that you can make any time in the future. The BAM file is large, over 1GB, and there are only a few sites that can do anything with it directly. However, as soon as the test is complete you'll be able to download, as common .CSV (comma-separated values) files, the SNP data, the STR data, and the data about matches found. A .VCF (variant call format) file is still free to download, and many 3rd-party yDNA analysis sites work with that information.

The full-sequencing tests require more sample material. If you opt to start with, say, a 67- or 111-STR marker panel first, you'll still have an untouched vial in storage for the Big Y test later. I had a sample remain viable from 2003 through 2019 when, after multiple, incremental upgrade tests, it was finally exhausted. But FTDNA states a 25-year storage, and the samples themselves--if of adequate initial quality (really scrape those cheeks)--can last on the shelf even longer.

One reason I--and I assume Lorna for the same reason--advocate obtaining and using two sample kits is that we simply don't know where DNA testing technology will take us. Advances since 2014 or 2015 have been at breakneck speed. Long-read and nanopore sequencing have made dramatic changes to the realm of whole genome sequencing, as have simply more cost-effective technologies and techniques. I had a 30X coverage whole genome sequencing performed last year for $200; just a handful of years prior, that would have been closer to $6,000. Having an untouched, two-vial kit in storage with FTDNA will allow you to take advantage of new technologies two, five, or even 10 years down the road.

Last caveat, in keeping with the above. If you pay for the testing, assure that you retain the ability to manage the account at FTDNA. Have the test kit shipped wherever you choose, but maintain the account at FTDNA in your email address and your password. Our venerable seniors will pass away, and if you are not managing the account--and the test-taker has not expressly named you as manager of the kit in their beneficiary preferences--upon his death the ability to access the account for further test upgrades or even to view the data and matches can be wrested away from you. All it takes is a legal heir who has no interest in genealogy. Don't ask me how I know this, or how much money I spent learning that lesson. wink

Debbie, when you are talking about downloading your mtDNA for other sites to upload elsewhere, are you talking about uploading to Ancestry, MyHeritage, GEDMatch? Those sites are purely fccussed on autosomal DNA, so no they don't accept mtDNA files.
Bennet gave the link to the other site I was thinking of for uploading yDNA and mtDNA too for matching

Be aware that even exact matches on mtDNA can be many generations ago and the connection may never be found. For both y and mtDNA in particular target testing on a line you are interested in usually pays dividends in proving theories. But it sounds like you are out of luck on finding another Britton on your line.

I'm reasonably sure there is a Britton project at FTDNA, with an active volunteer admin, so make sure you find it and join your cousin up to it, and his appropriate haplogroup project once you have the latter from his results. 

LivingDNA also accept autosomal uploads.  And a hint from me is to make sure that as well as the cheek swab for FTDNA, AT THE SAME TIME, get an Ancestry spit kit sample.  Works for me, many times over now.
+4 votes
I took my DNA test at LivingDNA.  They are a splendid company, partnered with findmypast.  Although their DNA results are worldwide, they break down your British DNA into counties.  I think they were platinum sponsors at Rootstech in 2018.

No need to worry about them.
by R H G2G Astronaut (1m points)
Thanks for the insights.  I've ordered the LivingDNA test for myself and I think, despite the fact I don't  particularly care for them, do one of the big at FamilyTree for his yDNA.

Thanks again.

I just got back my Living DNA results a few weeks ago and I’m happy with their analysis. And, my MTDNA checks out. My only complaint is I don’t have a single family match and there are basically no options for uploading raw DNA to another site for matching or further analysis.
Ros, yes they provide what I consider the best biogeographic estimates by nicely arranged regions and the company is innovative long lasting and with a good partner in FindMyPast but Deb has one shot at ,getting the last male in her direct make line to test which she sounded she was interested in exploring, so that’s no contest yDNA at FTDNA.
Lyndsay, I have downloaded my LivingDNA file and transferred that to GEDmatch, using it and my tests at other companies to create a super kit there for more accurate comparisons with kits from other companies. Can’t remember the detail but the ability to download  is there somewhere

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