FAQs for Lineage Testing

Frequently Asked Questions

How does it work?

The science of lineage DNA testing relies on portions of human DNA that are passed from parents to children relatively unchanged through many generations. For the paternal line, we examine the Y chromosome, which is passed from father to son. For the maternal line, we examine the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA), which is passed from a mother to all her children.

One could say that by examining these key parts of our DNA, our paternal and maternal history could be traced as far back as the first peoples who populated the earth. Scientific data shows that modern humans evolved in Africa 400,000 to 130,000 years ago, and started migrating outward.

During this migration, slight differences in the Y chromosome and the mtDNA—genetic markers—developed as groups settled in the different areas of the world. Today, we bear those marks within our DNA, making it possible to find out our ancestor’s geographic roots. A simple cheek swab is all you need!

What will the test tell me?

The test will tell you which haplogroup you belong to on your maternal and/or paternal side. A haplogroup is a population of people who share common markers in their DNA, and it is usually associated with a geographical and historical point of origin.

Along with your haplogroup, we will provide a description of applicable populations around the world where the same haplogroup can be found, which can be considered your “genetic cousins.”

We will also give you the specific DNA markers that allowed us to determine your haplogroup, should you choose to do further research with this data. There are publicly available databases and forums where you could discuss your results!

How long does the test take?

The maternal and paternal lineage tests take 6-8 weeks.

Will this test tell me what nationality I am?

This test will give you insights on possible geographic regions of origin; however, it will not definitively state your nationality. Nationality and race are both determined by social and political factors that are independent of genetics. Your DNA test will indicate your biogeographic roots, which indicates genetic inheritance and is informed by historical studies about movements of people groups throughout the past.

What is a haplogroup?

A haplogroup is a population of people who share common markers in their DNA, and it is usually associated with a geographical and historical point of origin.

Will the test give percentages of my ancestral background?

The maternal and paternal lineage tests give you specific information about your maternal and/or paternal line. Our AncestrybyDNA™ test, on the other hand, takes into account other contributions to your lineage, such as spouses along the maternal and paternal lines. Visit this page to learn more.

Do my mother and my father both have to be swabbed for the lineage testing?

Your own DNA already contains information that is informative with regards to lineage. If you are male, we can take your sample and determine both maternal and paternal lineage. If you are female, your sample will only have maternal lineage information, since the paternal lineage information is found on the Y-chromosome. In this case, your full brother will need to contribute a DNA sample.

Will the test tell me if I have Jewish ancestry?

Certain haplogroups are associated with Jewish ancestry. However, there are varying social and political definitions of what it means to be Jewish, and DNA alone does not determine Jewish ancestry.

Will the test tell me if I am related to a famous person?

No, however certain famous individuals in ancient and recent history have been DNA tested to determine their haplogroups. These include U.S. President Thomas Jefferson, the Wright brothers (aviation pioneers), and the Romanov family. Historical evidence pointing to Genghis Khan and St. Luke have suggested haplogroups for these iconic persons. If your haplogroup matches that of famous people who have been haplotyped, it will be mentioned on the description page that accompanies your certificate.