10 DNA Myths Busted
The Genetic Genealogist Blaine T. Bettinger, Ph.D.
received it from her mother, and so on. Everyone of us contains DNA (Y-DNA and/or mtDNA) from our ancestors that
can be studied by genetic genealogy.
5. I want to test my mother’s father’s Y-DNA, but since he didn’t pass on his Y-chromosome to my
mother, I’m out of luck.
Wrong! There is a very good chance that there is another source of that same Y-DNA. For instance, does your mother
have a brother (your uncle) who inherited the Y-DNA from his father? Or does your mother’s father have a brother
(your great-uncle) who would be willing to submit DNA for the test? Sometimes there might not be an obvious source
of “lost” Y-DNA, or no one in the family is willing to take a DNA test. The secret to solving this problem is to do what
every good genealogist does – use traditional genealogical research (paper records, census information, etc) to “trace
the DNA”. Follow the line back while tracing descendants in order to find someone who is interested in learning more
about their Y-DNA. This applies to finding a source of mtDNA as well.
6. Only men can submit DNA for genetic genealogy tests, since women do not have the Y-chromosome.
Wrong! Most genetic genealogy testing companies also offer mtDNA testing. Both men and women have mtDNA in
their cells and can submit that DNA for testing. In addition, women can test their father’s or some other male relative’s
Y-DNA to learn more about their paternal ancestral line, even though they did not inherit the Y-chromosome.
7. My genetic genealogy test will also reveal my propensity for diseases associated with the Y-
chromosome and mtDNA.
Wrong, thank goodness. Most of the information obtained by genetic genealogy tests has no known medical relevancy,
and these firms are not actively looking for medical information. It is important to note, however, that some medical
information (such as infertility detected by DYS464 testing or other diseases detectable by a full mtDNA sequence)
might inadvertently be revealed by a genetic genealogy test.
8. I don’t like the thought of a company having my DNA on file or my losing control over my DNA sample.
This is, of course, an understandable concern. However, most testing firms give a client two options: the DNA is either
immediately destroyed once the tests are run, or it is securely stored for future testing. If the DNA is stored, the firm