Help:Mitochondrial DNA Tests

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Mitochondrial DNA testing (abbreviated mtDNA) and Y-chromosome testing (yDNA) have been used by genealogists and scientists for years. Their value in confirming specific inheritance is well-established. In the case of mtDNA, it's the inheritance on the direct maternal line. (For yDNA, it's the inverse, the direct paternal line.)

The most popular mtDNA tests among genealogists are those offered by Family Tree DNA.

What's Tested

These DNA tests are on the mitochondria. Most DNA is in chromosomes in the cell nucleus. Mitochondrial DNA is separate.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited in a direct matrilineal fashion. People get it from their mother, who got it from her mother, who got it from her mother, etc.

The inheritance pattern is the exact opposite of yDNA, which is patrilineal, but men can take mtDNA tests. All people have mitochondrial DNA, whereas only males have Y-chromosomes. Therefore, even though men cannot pass on their mtDNA, they can have their mtDNA tested to learn about their direct maternal line.

To see your family's mtDNA inheritance, click to your DNA Ancestors page. It's linked from the DNA Tests item in the "Add" pull-down menu at the top of this page.

Why to Test

Mitochondrial DNA is very stable — it mutates very slowly — so matching with other test-takers isn't generally very helpful. Most of your matches would be from an ancient common ancestor, far outside a genealogical time frame.

However, since the inheritance pattern is so clear, mtDNA is very useful for confirming or rejecting an expected relationship. See your DNA Ancestor Confirmation Aid page for how it can help confirm your family tree.

Usage on WikiTree

See the DNA Features page for how a mitochondrial DNA test entered on WikiTree is attached to profiles and how you can use it as part of the ancestor confirmation process.

See also:

This page was last modified 17:52, 30 September 2021. This page has been accessed 78,401 times.