DNA kits have become increasingly popular in recent times. They can be used for various types of DNA testing, including:
- Paternity testing
- Legal DNA testing
- Relationship testing
- DNA profiles
- Forensic services
- Ancestry testing
- Immigration testing
- Maternity testing
There is available an Ancestry DNA test kit, which consists of three swab kits. These are designed for a single persons use. Each tube that comes with the kit contains a fluid which is designed to arrest bacteria growth. You can now scrape your cheek and return your kit in all types of weather (hot or cold). The freshness of your sample will remain intact for months.
Previous kits contained the dry preservation method, which worked without the fluid. However, the scraper tips were prone to bacteria growth in humid climates.
Many DNA kits come with a cotton toothed tip at the end of the scraper. The sensation that you will receive from using this utensil will be just like brushing inside your cheek with a toothbrush. It is important to remember, that a good scrape will produce lots of DNA, which will make the extraction process much simpler and decrease the chance of one of your markers failing to be readable on the first test of your sample.
It has to be said that DNA testing has come on in leaps and bounds and DNA kits that can be carried out in the comfort of your own home make it even more simple. Determining ancestry was in previous times the kingdom of genealogists who followed paper trails and traveled the world, collecting clues. However, nowadays, researchers can provide a picture about a person’s past with the use of a DNA kit and a swab of his of her cheek.
Genetically speaking, humans are in fact all one race: Homo sapiens. The Human Genome Project, which is an international research collaboration that mapped human DNA in 2001, made a discovery that 99.9% of people’s DNA, which is the cell’s genetic blueprint, is identical to that of everyone else on the planet, regardless of whether they are a family member or a stranger.
The political, religious, or cultural distinctions on which people have built concepts of race are not known by DNA. However, in the 0.1% of the genetic code that makes each person unique is inscribed a chronological and geographic history.
A set of DNA markers reveals the history, which are generally harmless genetic mutations that are passed on over generations that have accumulated in populations over Homo sapiens sapiens’ 150,000 to 200,000 year history.
Upon humans first migrating out of Africa and into the Middle East approximately 60,000 years ago, new DNA markers appeared to be unique to the relocated groups. New groups developed their own patterns of markers, as populations continued to migrate to Asia and Europe and them to the Americas, which defined their genetic ancestral families called “haplogroups”. Scientists have constructed detailed human migration maps by collecting haplogroup information from native communities that are thought to have remained geographically isolated over their histories.
There are now two dozen companies that offer DNA kits that can match these haplogroups to the DNA markers in anyone who has a desire to dig into their own heritage.
The process of testing is undertaken by collecting a scraping from the inner cheek with a toothbrush-like tool, or a simple cotton swab. This swab loosens the cells in the cheek which contain a person’s entire genetic code. A majority of human DNA is found in the nucleus, which is the cell’s control center, in the form of a double-helix, a twisted ladder that has 3 billion steps. Each step holds a pair of matching building blocks, which are referred to as either adenine and tyrosine or a guanine and cytosine, represented by the letter A, T, G, and C.
Some DNA test kits measure single typographical errors in the genetic code, which are called nucleotide polymorphisms, or SNPs. There are then other tests that measure changes in microsatellites, which are small sequences of repeated letters that shrink or grow in length when they mutate. Either of these two types can be utilized in order to define a person’s genetic signature and place the person in one or more ancestry groups.
The National Human Genome Research Institute states that there are approximately ten million common SNPs in the human genome; however, 97% of these markers are redundant. Genetic heritage companies examine between as few as 10 and as many as hundreds, depending on the ancestral region and the geographic accuracy their tests are expected to fulfill.
The DNA that is taken from the inner cheek cells can be replicated and chopped into strands that contain a variety of SNPs and microsatellites. In popular style tests, the chopped DNA strands are placed on a gene chip, which is a small device that was originally developed for drug research that contains a grid of SNP or microsatellite markers that correspond to known ancestry genes. The chopped strands stick to the markers on the chip if there is an ancestral group match.
After you have used the DNA kit, a computer will then tally the matches and compare them to DNA databases in order to determine your overall ancestry.
There are two other DNA kits that can answer lineage questions by analyzing two branches of the family tree.
SNPs or microsatellites in the Y chromosome, which is the gender-determining DNA that is only found in males, can trace a paternal genetic lineage. Because of the fact that Y chromosome is passed down from father to son without change, the test becomes a powerful tool. In 2003, researchers reported in the American Journal of Human Genetic that 16 million individuals share a 1,000 year old haplogroup with a single Central Asian patriarch, possibly a close ancestor of Mongol emperor Genghis Khan.
There are then other tests that examine SNPs in DNA from mitochondria, which are the power plants of human cells. Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mothers to all children and can determine a maternal lineage. Using this method, scientists have traced all humans back to a common haplogroup which belonged to a “mitochondrial Eve” who could have resided in Africa approximately 150,000 years ago.
As DNA kits have now become cheaper and DNA databases have grown, it is expected, by scientists that genetic genealogy results will improve.