What should I be DNA testing next? Opinions?

+8 votes
So I recently got some more auDNA done on family, and I was hoping to get a few opinions on who/what to test next.

Currently I have FTDNA family finder auDNA done on me, my sister, my mom, and my maternal grandmother. I have an auDNA test on my dad through ancestry.com. All of it is, or is in the process of being uploaded to gedmatch, and linked to wikitree (with permission of course).

To let you know what's availible: my greatgrandparents are all deceased. My grandfathers are both deceased. It's unlikely I will be able to convince my paternal grandmother to test, and I have no contact for any of her siblings. My paternal grandfather was an only child. My maternal grandfather has one living sister. (my maternal grandmother did test auDNA) My dad has a sister and my mom has 2 sisters and 2 full and one 1/2 brothers. (Shh, Don't let her know I called her brother a half though ok? She's protective of him being her brother since he was 1 when my grandma got remarried, but it's important for testing that he has a different dad and that I get one of the other two for my grandfather's YDNA.)

I'm considering a few YDNA and mtDNA tests and one more auDNA test. I figure I'll approach them about doing it and permission when I have the money to do the tests saved up, but besides my paternal grandmother I don't foresee any issues.

Dad's YDNA

Dad's mtDNA

Dad's sister's auDNA

Mom's/mine/maternal grandmother's mtDNA

One of my mother's full brother's YDNA

Maternal grandfather's sister's mtDNA

Possibly trying to get in touch with a brother of my paternal grandmother for YDNA.

I don't think I hit any redundancies (besides the auDNA tests on me and my sister that are already done but were personally interesting) Is there any possibility I missed? Are there any reasons (besides the obvious of whose likely to die off first) to do some tests before others?

Another aspect I'd like advice and opinions on is the level to test to. I've mostly looked at FTDNA's stuff. I know there's two levels of mtDNA and many levels of YDNA. I think I'm addicted to geneology so I'm hesitant to do a lower-tier test, and then have to repay more money to do a more extensive one, but I also can't imagine paying for three Big Y's and three full mtDNA's. My budget is basically setting aside money I get for christmas's and birthdays, and adding what I can, so it's not that huge of a fund and I will have to really hope for sales. How does upgrading from one test to the next work? Do you get any sort of discount? I assume that each Y DNA test isn't a wholly new area and that Y-67 just does 30 more than Y-37, and the other 37 are duplicates. Is that right?

For both Y and Mt DNA, I mostly see people suggesting FTDNA, is there another company? Pros/Cons of each?

As for how papertrails may tie in, my maternal grandmother's sides and half of my paternal grandmother's side go back to colonial America and are pretty interesting. Many of the other branches dead end in Ireland/Poland/ wherever they immigrated from and I cant get records anymore. I can see testing to be able to confirm papertrail, or testing to see what I dont know about the other lines.

Help, I'm conflicted. Any opinions welcome.
in The Tree House by Allison Schaub G2G6 Mach 1 (15.2k points)
retagged by Ellen Smith

8 Answers

+12 votes
Best answer
If you just want to get DNA stored in case some of your older relatives pass away, you can always send a request to FTDNA for just a sample kit. For $15, they will send you a kit and then store your DNA for future tests.

Otherwise, wait for sales and then figure out your research questions. For example, my paternal tree is pretty firm but there are a couple of weak points in there that made me doubt my 7x great-grandfather so I wanted to be sure. I then had a Y37 test and found an 8th paternal cousin and sent him a Y37 test and lo, we had a GD of 3. Further tests made our match a certainty, confirming that line.

YDNA and mtDNA tests are not great for fishing purposes - for most people. Your closest matches may share an MRCA that lived several hundred or even thousands of years ago.

If you have a paternal line that goes back to the British Isles, you may, possibly, perhaps get some closer matches, within or almost within the genealogical timeframe. If you don't have a paternal line that traces back there, you won't come close. You'll sit there wondering how this paternal ancestor who lived 2000 years ago managed to get descendants in Italy and Hungary. Where could this guy have possibly lived? Was he Celtic? Roman? A nomad?

So if you're mostly interested in genealogy, until you have some specific need for a YDNA or mtDNA test, stick with autosomal testing. But get their DNA stored at FTDNA. If you do test at FTDNA, always wait for sales. Christmas is huge; mother's day, father's day, and DNA days are also good.
by Davis Simpson G2G6 Mach 2 (23.3k points)
selected by Allison Schaub
Thank you!!! I had no idea they would store DNA. My paternal line greatgrandfather passed away in 2015, and I really could have used his DNA to kick down some brickwalls (his wife was adopted by her uncle). That really made me aware I should be doing what tests I can while the people are around to do them.
I do have a lot of colonial ancestors that go back into England (I think I'm supposed to have william the conquerer and some Edward 3rd if I remember correctly, although not all the kings between) but they aren't quite the right lines.
The lines I would be testing:

-The Schaub's (my dad's) would go back to early 1800's Germany
-If I could get it, my paternal grandmother's brother's Y  (Robaskiewicz) would go back to about 1850's Posen (the Polish part of Prussia. Poland if you ask them)
-mother's brother, the Hanes go back through the Palestine migration from Germany to British Colonial New York, and I can trace back into some point in 1600's Germany.
From what you said it looks like the Hanes are the only ones worth actively pursuing at the moment, but perhaps storing the others for future testing.


-my line goes back 12 generations if I counted correctly (which a G2G post a while ago was hoping to get 8 or 9 generation lines that had tested as those were uncommon) to my all line female ancestor born in 1631 Maine,  https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Williams-16089

-my dad's maternal line would go a woman born in 1727 Pennsylvania https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/Zimmerman-86 (her mothers name is known but not birthplace)

-My maternal grandfather's maternal line (gotten from his sister) would go to 1848 Ontario https://www.wikitree.com/wiki/McCulloch-1369

So maybe the top two?
So I get kits for my great aunt, my dad, mine is there, my uncle, and maybe my grandma's brother. That's four kits to buy and store for about $60, which is reasonable. And then I can go from there.

With those lines, would you recommend just the lowest tier tests? or jump to one of the others?
I'm glad I could help! To get those kits, you need to send a question into their customer support. It's not an available option on the purchase screen.

I always recommend starting out with 37 STRs. From there, you can see pretty reliably determine if there is anything worth researching more. You might have a number of matches with a GD of 4 whose ancestors are English and your common paternal ancestor was some Saxon who lived well over one thousand years ago. Or you might get lucky and get some Germans or Poles at a closer genetic distance and want to dig deeper.

FTDNA tests costs are cumulative. If you buy Y37 and upgrade to Y67, you're only paying for those extra 30 STRs. Except when you get to BigY, which throws the STRs in for free. That was on sale last Christmas for $369 but it's a big leap into the dark without some STR testing first.

With mtDNA, I just went for the full smash. My Hungarian mtDNA only has 8 matches but they were VERY interesting and some were identical. My Dad's Scottish YDNA has hundreds of matches, some pretty close but none very interesting.

Unlike YDNA STR tests, the mtDNA test is a SNP test so you get your haplogroup, which is nice.
+7 votes
If you have not already done so, upload your Dad’s AncestryDNA test to FTDNA. After that, if you are hoping to use the testing as evidence to support your tree, I would recommend that you move on to more autosomal tests at Ancestry. You can subsequently upload to FTDNA those who have not already tested there.

You can also consider uploading the tests that are already taken to MyHeritage and LivingDNA.

If you do decide to do more Y-DNA or mtDNA tests stick to FTDNA for those  if you want matching. These provide interesting haplogroup information but in terms of researching your tree are less likely to give you a good return on your limited funds.
by Lynda Crackett G2G6 Pilot (634k points)
First of all, thanks for your opinion.

Do you know if uploading ancestry to FTDNA is free or a fee right now? I know they've changed it around and I was hoping I could catch it free at some point. It was $30 last I looked. So far I've been able to use gedmatch to bridge the gap to compare kits.

 I have both my parent's DNA on myheritage.

Without an ancestry.com membership or chromosome browser, I'm really at a loss of what to do with ancestry matches, unless I just spam message them to check out my tree here or on familysearch.org. I really prefer having some idea of how they may be related before messaging and it seems like ancestry is trying to prevent that without paying them more money. When I did have a subscription a few years ago (granted it was before DNA testing) over 90% of the "hints" I was getting seemed to be familysearch.org results and the other 10% were usually inaccurate and unsourced family trees. I doubt I will be doing new tests DNA through them, and I will be hoping to get ancestry-tested matches on gedmatch I suppose. I dont know how other's situations may work out, but for my family it seemed like a waste of money. I really liked ancestry as a starting point, but the deeper I get into my family tree, the more it seems to be about money than historical accuracy.
I dont want to get too down on ancestry, but if I did do more au testing, I really dont know who I would test. I'm thinking of doing my dad's sister only because she's basically the only other person who shares his paternal side that's still alive. There were a lot of single sons in a line. I dont see getting a whole lot from testing my mom's 5 siblings, other than a more complete phasing of my maternal grandfather. (her one brother cant help at all there). I dont know if more complete phasing of my grandpa would help me or not.

I was thinking of the YDNA and mtDNA to get haplogroups and possible migrations/regions as well as to get deeper into my ancestry where auDNA matches are too small of cM's to help.
You can upload from Ancestry to FTDNA and see a match list for free. There is a threshold for how distant the matches are so you will not get as many as if you test with FTDNA. I still find it a useful way of getting value for my test money though. If you want to use the chromosome browser on an uploaded test you have to pay a small fee.
Thanks! I'll probably do that today
Worth a try. You might get some useful matches. You can then decide at a later date whether you want to pay for the chromosome browser info.
+6 votes
To me, the answer to your question depends on what you wish to accomplish. For one thing, YDNA and auDNA will answer very different questions. If you have the money and what to have a lot of data to play with just to find what turns up, then it doesn't really matter. If your mtDNA is unlikely to answer anything unless you have some very specific distinction to make in a female lineage. Getting DNA from mother's side and father's side will be completely different goals in relation to your own ancestry.
by Douglas Beezley G2G6 Mach 3 (31.3k points)
Thanks. I think I do just want to see what turns up more than heaving a specific question, and that with Davis Simpson's suggestion of storing DNA kits until I can do the tests is going to be helpful. I really want to know more about both sides (and not make one parent jealous I'm doing their side more) So It's good that with 3 Y and 3 mt tests I could possibly do they are distributed where I can potentially get three for each side.

Do you have an opinion on levels to do?
+4 votes
I really don't understand all the details, but I was surprised when I got my maternal haplogroup from 23 and me.  Apparently they include that with the AU test at no extra charge, although I don't know if it's as detailed as other companies.

I found this

But it is at least half greek to me, so maybe someone can break it down.

Also, you should upload everything to FTDNA, Gedmatch, and My Heritage as other people suggested.   Ancestry and 23 and Me are the only two that don't accept other uploads.
by Wendy Fromme G2G6 Mach 2 (24.6k points)
Thanks for the chart. I'll dig into that a bit, but the option to store at FTDNA may get my business.
+2 votes
It looks as though you have a pretty solid understanding of your options. I'd second Davis' advice on which tests to focus on and Lynda's advice on uploading to MyHeritage and LivingDNA (MyHeritage provided the match that enabled me to find my paternal grandfather's identity). I'm not sure what FTDNA's policy is on applying the $15 to your first test but if they don't it might be worth it to just wait for a sale (and find coupons, always around Christmas but maybe other times as well, though they're usually only $5 for au tests) and pay the extra $30-$35 for the actual test. A longshot option, mostly for yDNA tests, might be to look for projects that sometimes offer to pay for tests, typically for more common surnames. Check with project admins for surnames in your family.

I personally have found both y and mt tests to be of very limited value for genealogical purposes. They were worth it in my case but only because they helped provide evidence for rather specific questions. My y test made it clear that my paternal grandfather (who was unknown to me until a couple months ago) was of Irish paternal ancestry. I already knew from au tests for my sister and I that he was of Irish and Scandinavian origin but it was the y test that confirmed his Irish paternal ancestry. An mt test for my Mom ruled out any Native American maternal line origin and seems to point in the direction of the British Isles or Scandinavia but is not very clear.

I generally agree with the idea of testing at Ancestry and then uploading to the other sites as it it certainly provides the most exposure for your money. However, keep in mind that Ancestry will not store your sample and does not provide any other tests anyway. My closest matches are at Ancestry but none of them have been particularly useful as they are mostly already known relationships (with a few exceptions). The lack of tools and access to email addresses at Ancestry also make it much more difficult to utilize your results for genealogical purposes in my experience.
by Paul Chisarik G2G6 Mach 2 (24.1k points)
+2 votes
I may have missed it, but I've not seen a direct answer to your question about what levels to do in a YDNA test.

Anything under 37 markers is not worth bothering with.

Anything over 37 markers only becomes worthwhile once you have a decent match at the 37 marker level, and I have then got a lot more mileage out of going for a BigY  test rather than mucking about with 67 or 111 markers. As part of the BigY test (which looks at the SNP data on the Y chromosome) you get something like 400 STR markers thrown in for free.

Always worth looking out for saletime -ftDNA have just started their summer sale.
by Derrick Watson G2G6 Mach 4 (43.1k points)
Thanks. You guys have all been pretty helpful. I think the plan is to get a $15 kit to save my great aunt's DNA at least, and watch for sales as I save. My fund is low since I just got my sisters, moms and grandmas' auDNA, or I'd be doing the summer sales now. At least I have plenty of matches to fuss with for now.

I think you guys helped me figure out I want to target my Hanes Y and my own mt DNA from the possibilities avalible, but I may have to do my Dad's Y and Mt at the same time to make sure neither side gets jealous I'm focusing on the other!
I think you guys have at least helped me settle that I'm leaving the Polish Robaskiewicz YDNA and my great aunt's mtDNA for last, especially since I can store her's.

I'll definately start with the Y-37 to make sure there's anything to compare to. After that if I wanted more testing, hopefully there'd be a surname project to join. (Hanes has some with alternate spellings, but I haven't seen any Schaub or Robaskiewicz studies) Im leaning toward a full sequence MtDNA so I dont keep going back and forth with it.
+1 vote

Maybe I missed this but has your maternal grandfather's sister tested au? Because if not I would 100% have her do it. Probubly my second choice would be your parent's siblings getting tested. Unless the known male or maternal line is about to die out I would prioritize au testing since it is much more likely to get results and it is not passed down exactly like Y and mt 

by Janelle Weir G2G6 Mach 5 (50.2k points)
+1 vote
A fun way to find more DNA matches for free is to download your data file from Family Tree DNA and upload it to MyHeritage and to Geni.  You can set up free accounts on each site.  The MyHeritage site has a great program to check out your matches and shows who else matches as well.  I have made a few discoveries this way with distant cousins who only tested through MyHeritage.

Sounds like your on the right track for the kits, I was going to say you can just order the Family Finder test and then later upgrade to the Y or MT tests.  I have asked several older relatives to test and they were all happy to do so, my grandpa even insisted on paying for his own test..  I think most people think of it only as an ethnicity report, wheras really I think the dna matches are the real reason to get more people tested.

Good luck Cousin!
by Erik Granstrom G2G6 Mach 3 (36.4k points)

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