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How Does A DNA Test Determine Ancestry?

Mouth swab for DNA test

Do you remember the time that DNA testing was thought as science fiction and it was going to ruin everything we knew in the world? Well, those times are long behind us because now we use DNA tests for all types of purposes. Establishing a person’s lineage and ancestry is one of the primary reasons that someone takes a DNA test, but exactly how do they work? How does a swab from the inside of a person’s cheek tell about their entire past? We want to shed some light just as to how these tests uncover the information they do. 

Read More: How Does DNA Testing Work?

When you send in a DNA test to receive a full history of your family’s ancestry, you are looking to discover your family’s history and origins. Essentially, these companies are offering you a comprehensive look at that history. Customers take the kits that they order and give a spit sample that is then sent into a lab. The process of running your sample can take anywhere from a month to two months to receive your results. Once the sample has been ran and digitized, it comes back looking like a long string of letters. These letters are the four bases from what our genes are made out of. 

These strings of genes are then ran through a DNA research database to compare them with other strings to make up your ancestry. There is no certain gene that says you are “Swiss” or “British”. The scientists who study these strings of DNA refer to an algorithm to help pull the mean out of these strings. The only flaw of these DNA research libraries is that when they receive samples from certain groups, they don’t have enough samples to differentiate between them. For example, most of these DNA research libraries contain vast amounts of information on European populations and can do a better job of placing a certain sample with a specific group compared to that of Native American populations. Because there are so few samples collected in these libraries from populations like Native Americans, it makes it difficult to separate those groups into different categories. 

DNA testing has come a long way in a very short period of time. It was only a few decades ago that society would have considered DNA testing as science fiction. Now, we see it being used for a variety of factors including finding out where our family came from. Testing for ancestry is probably one of the greatest achievements that DNA testing has given us. Although there is no perfect way of finding this information, research libraries and scientists work with very detailed algorithms to connect gene strings with various populations that match. If you have yet to investigate into your family’s ancestry, you should definitely consider taking a DNA test and finding out the results. You never know what kind of information you just might find. 

Also: Know The Facts About DNA Testing

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