In the last few years, more and more African Americans have been undergoing ethnicity DNA tests to determine their African ancestry. This is not just limited to African Americans. In many heterogenous societies, people have more than ever before started to wonder where their ancestries are traceable to. Many adopted children would love to know who their original parents are, as well as their places of origin.
These and other questions are being answered through the use of ethnicity testing techniques, thanks to modern advances in DNA testing technology. In ethnicity testing, DNA samples are collected using the buccal swab technique, and the DNA results matched against the existing ethnic profiles that have been compiled from studies such as the Human Genome Project.
There are three variations of ethnicity testing:
ETHNIC DNA TESTING TYPE #1: Y-DNA Testing of Your Paternal Line
This test assesses the extent of paternal ancestry based on the Y-chromosome (the male chromosome). It assigns specific paternal haplogroups to specific nationalities. This is measured in percentages. For example, 30% of American and Caribbean blacks have a European haplogroup because many of their great-grand parents who worked on plantation farms as slaves were fathered by the plantation owners, who were mostly European settlers to America.
This type of genetic testing also identifies genetic cousins. Since this test is based on the Y-chromosome, it can only be taken by males.
ETHNIC DNA TESTING #2: Mitochondrial DNA Testing of Your Maternal Line
This is based on the fact that mothers pass on their mitochondrial DNA to her children (male and female). So it is used to trace the maternal lineage. Results are typically ready in four to six weeks.
These two tests are based on the sex chromosomes.
ETHNIC DNA TESTING #3: Autosomal DNA Testing
This uses 22 out of the 23 human chromosome pairs to measure total ancestry composition. These 22 pairs of chromosomes come from both paternal (22) and maternal (22) lines. The basic assumption is that certain marker values occur at different frequencies in different populations. By comparing the individual’s results with that of specific population groups, ethnic groups or world regions where the individual’s total combination of ancestry is most common can be identified.
A typical test result will include the following items:
1. A certificate with a results table showing your ancestral proportions.
2. A graphical representation of your results.
3. Your genotypes at tested markers.
4. A user manual explaining the results.