DNA test products

+12 votes

I have been recommended to take the Y-DNA37, mtDNAPlus, and Family Finder tests from Family Tree DNA. However, as usual I'm not able to choose between so many products. Which of the nine products listed should I buy? Is the most expensive also the most inclusive and does that reflect on the quality as well? What is the difference between Y-DNA67 & mtFull Sequence, Family Finder & Y-DNA37 & mtDNA Plus, andY-DNA37 & mtDNA Plus .... Please advise, I have zero knowledge of genetics but would appreciate the best advice so that I can just choose without having to wonder about quality, price and effect ... (I do want to include the maternal side of my family as well though) ...



WikiTree profile: Philip van der Walt
in The Tree House by Philip van der Walt G2G6 Pilot (156k points)

1 Answer

+9 votes
Best answer

I would suggest for the biggest return on investment, 

Family Finder & Y-DNA37 & mtDNA Plus  $337.  This really only leaves you with haveing to think about upgrading your YDNA tests.

Y-DNA you inherit from your father and all your male van der Walt relatives should have the same values, or very close to the same values., and mtDNA you inherit from you mother, and the story is similar, but because the names change, I have not had much luck with the lower level test, I currently took.

Like any of these tests, its biggest value is if you find a known relative to compare with.  Fewer people take the higher test, so you won't match with as many who have tested fewer markers, but if you test 111 markers, then you will be able to compare all 111 markers with anyone else has tested 111 markers and you will have better information to work with. It looks like this costs about $657 Plus shipping.

In some cases, testing the 111 markers is philanthropic as it may help someone else more than you.

Best wishes and luck...

by Ken Sargent G2G6 Mach 5 (56.8k points)
selected by Philip van der Walt
Ouch! I didn't realize it cost so much.
If money is a real issue, I would take a sort of follow the leader approach. ( I would verify this with ftdna) but Order the Family Finder test for $99 plus shipping and wait to see if anyone else on wikitree has ordered a ydna or mtdna test.  FTDNA will store the sample, so when you know you have someone to compare with, you order those tests or any upgrades, FTDNA will use the existing sample.

I have to tell you turn around time was about 2 to 3 months just a few months ago...
I might be able to come up with the $ 657 but does that mean that I still have to 'upgrade' my YDNA tests?
Hello Philip,

37 markers is usually enough.  The amount needed to pay for markers 38 through 67 or 111 would likely be better spent testing cousins who are direct paternal line descendants or direct maternal line descendants of your various ancestors.

Hi Peter, thanks. Which product(s) would that be (forgive me asking this; I'm really in the dark when it comes to making choices such as these). I'm not so much interested in testing cousins though (we are all one big family in SA anyway the way things turned out ....). Sincerely, Philip
For you the Y-DNA37 test from Family Tree DNA will reveal the Y haplotype (signature) of this direct paternal line:


For you the mtDNAPlus test from Family Tree DNA will reveal the mtDNA motif (signature) of this direct maternal line:


For Liebenberg-117 the Y-DNA37 test from Family Tree DNA will reveal your mother's mother's father's direct paternal line:


which goes back to 1670.  Similar for other cousins.

Most Bahamians also belong to one big family.  mtDNA testing there reveals that about half of those with mostly European ancestry descend on their direct maternal line from one of only five women who lived in the Bahamas in the late 1600's or early 1700's.

Wow wow thanks Peter - this certainly clears a lot more up - thanks Peter!


Hi Philip,

You are basically done on FTDNA with one exception, BIG-Y but this is new and I am sure the price of $575.00 will come down.  You certainly would be an early adopter.

Your initial post did not exactly state your objectives.  The primary objective of DNA testing on Wikitree is to compare KNOWN familial connections to see if those comparisons are consistent or inconsistent with the existing tree.

I purchased and manage kits on 23andme, AncestryDNA, and FTDNA of known family members which validated most of my tree. One of those kits discovered a non-paternal event on my male line. It was the evidence needed to refute my claim to a common ancestor and helped another support his claim to that same common ancestor.

Autosomal data is significantly better at providing evidence to support or refute closer relationships. This would be the foundation for your tree, which is why many people are anxious about taking these tests. The risk learning something they wished they didn't know.  I can validate that ignorance is true bliss and sometimes preferable.

If validating the foundation of your tree first make sense, then I would test at least one 1st cousin/aunt/uncle on each side of the family, followed by 2nd cousins, etc.

You can't validate or refute anything unless you can find a known DNA cousin to compare. the pool of possible autosomal DNA cousins is significantly greater than the pool of yDNA or mtDNA cousins.

If I were to spend $700 to get started, I would buy 7 autosomal kits and test myself and six of my 1st, 2nd, and/or 3rd cousins.
Hello Philip,

I find Y-DNA and mtDNA much easier to work with than auDNA and they are better at going back into the 17th century where many of you brick walls appear to be.  My suggestion would be to start small with Y and mtDNA.  But if you know cousins who have your ancestor's Y-DNA or mtDNA and those cousins are the end of their line for that type of DNA then be sure to test them before they die.

If you have a relative from an earlier generaton (parent, uncle, great aunt etc) then BE SURE to have them take a Family Finder test.  They have MUCH more of the auDNA from the branch of your ancestral tree that you share with them.

Sincerely, Peter
This morning I went for the Family Finder, mtFull Sequence, Y-DNA111. At appr. $ 666 it is dear and I'm as I said really uneducated when it comes to DNA (even though I did get an A in high school for biology) - I just do not see how I can solve 'brick walls' with genetics for example finding the parents of my grandfather with a name like 'James Baker' ... My main motivation was to leave some sense of identity to future generations as I will not have any offspring myself (that's why I went for the 111 markers). The idea that a cousin of mine (except for one or two) would cater to the notion of doing a dna test to prove anything genealogical, is as strange for me as it would be for them. Hopefully the autosomal kit is included in the package. My main genealogical interest is to see how much Huguenot and how much African and Far East dna from the 17-18th century there is in me, besides the rest of the European gene pool. Thanks for all the advice though. I might need help again when it comes to entering it (the results) into the tree ...

Hello Philip,

I just re-read your e-mail so what I said below may not apply to you since you say you have no children.  Family Tree DNA has a field to enter the person you want to take control of your DNA and test results when you die.  Be sure to fill that out.  Your DNA at the lab could then be used for additional testing not yet available.


If the money is dear for you then I highly recommend you phone Family Tree DNA at (713) 868-1438 as soon as possible and change your order to Y-DNA37, mtDNAPlus and Family Finder.

You don't need a Rolls Royce to get you to the food market to shop.  A Ford or Toyota will get you there just fine.  If needed at a later time then you can upgrade a lower resolution test using your existing DNA at the lab.  

Your savings would be much better used to test your cousins as I described earlier.

Sincerely, Peter

Thanks Robert, but it will be much too much of a hassle now ... thanks for caring though .... I just hope that my current order includes the Y-DNA37, mtDNAPlus ....

Hi Philip,

Good choice.  Would you mind sharing the cost of shipping. This is usually quite high outside the United States.

When it comes to brick walls, I would like to point out that a significant number of DNA subscribers are adoptees who regularly report, at least on 23andme, they found their birth mother or father using DNA.

Family Finder will compare your DNA with everyone else's DNA in their Family Finder Database. It will predict correctly about ~100% of the time, a known 1st or second cousin.  It may even predict unknown 1st or 2nd cousins, if they exist. If FTDNA predicts a 2nd cousin, then you most probably share the same two great grandparents. One of them might be James Baker. It's like the lottery. You both have 8 great grandparents and your 2nd cousin matches will attempt to determine who they could be. Additional matches can help you narrow the field even further.  

I noticed that your great grandfather is private, and his wife is unknown. Identifying the wife may help you break down James Bakers father's brick wall.  Think of purchasing AncestryDNA and 23andme is like buying a lottery ticket. You don't know which service might have that elusive cousin necessary to break down that brick wall.  

Best wishes,

Thanks Ken! Will do as soon as I get the product (it does not state on the invoice or order how much the shipping costs are). I'd be so happy if we could solve the brick wall regarding my grandfather 'Jimmy' Baker. I'll have another go at trying to uncovering his parents .... and I'll set his father's profile to public - thanks!

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