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? What is DNA?

DNA or deoxyribonucleic acid is a self-replicating molecule found in our cells. It is present in all living organisms as the principal constituent of chromosomes.

Its primary purpose is issuing genetic “orders” concerning the development, growth, reproduction, and functioning of living organisms.

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? What are chromosomes and genes?

Chromosomes are thread-like structures made of long DNA strands, located in the nucleus of each cell. Every chromosome is composed of DNA molecules, tightly coiled around proteins names histones.

Genes represent a unique sequence of DNA bases, which determine the characteristics of every living creature. We all predominantly have the same genes and the slight differences between them are what makes us unique.

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? How many different DNA tests are there?

All DNA tests can be classified into 3 groups:

Ancestry DNA tests, which explore your deep ancestry, ranging thousands of years into the past. These tests will inform you of your genetic and ethnic origins, geographic DNA impact, historic DNA relatives, and more.

Paternity DNA tests are used to confirm or negate a biological genetic connection between two individuals. Besides fatherhood/motherhood, they can also establish relationships with grandparents, uncles/aunts, siblings, twins, and so on.

Genomic/health tests determine potential genetic conditions. This is done by checking whether some of your genes carry prerequisites to induce hereditary illnesses or other ailments.

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? What is an ancestry DNA test?

They are DNA tests specifically designed to provide insights into your deep genetic ancestry.

The results will usually reveal unknown genetic relatives, maps with geographic locations of your genetic “impact,” the migration routes of your ancestors, a comparative chromosome view, the percentage of DNA left from your Neanderthal relatives, ethnic backgrounds, and more.

They can also be combined with health-related reports in order to show potential genetic conditions running in your family.

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? What’s the difference between ethnicity and genetic origins?

Genetic origins pinpoint smaller groups of people who carried your DNA throughout history. Ancestry tests are able to show you the primal ancestor that started your genetic line.

Ethnicity includes groups of people sharing a religion, culture, traditions, and language. Members of an ethnic group can be genetically related, but they don’t have to be.

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? What is a paternity DNA test?

Paternity tests are designed to genetically fingerprint a biological relationship between two individuals.

They are used for more than simply determining parental relations, though. Grandparents, siblings, twins, and uncles/aunts can also be determined.

DNA paternity testing is the most reliable method of genetic profiling today.

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? What are autosomal tests?

People have 23 pairs of chromosomes. 22 pairs are called “autosomal” and the 23rd is the one determining our gender. Ergo, it is called the “gender” or “sex” chromosome.

DNA tests analyzing solely the formerly mentioned 22 pairs are thus named autosomal DNA tests.

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? What are Y and mt tests?

Y-tests explore the Y chromosome, an integral part of the male genome. They are also called “fatherline” or “surname” tests.

Mt or mitochondrial DNA tests focus on DNA reserves found in cell organelles called mitochondria. Mitochondrial DNA passes down from mothers to children unchanged, allowing for an easily detectable DNA chain.

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? What’s the difference between autosomal and Y and mt tests?

Autosomal DNA tests analyze your entire ancestral family tree. They do not make a distinction between paternal and maternal genetic lineages.

Y-tests exclusively explore direct paternal DNA lines. They are available only to males since females lack the Y chromosome. That’s why they’re also called surname tests – they can follow your surname, back to the first relative ever to bear it. This cannot be done through female lines since they usually take the surnames of their husbands.

Mitochondrial or mtDNA tests exploit the fact that mitochondrial DNA remains unchanged through generations. They are therefore used to identify direct maternal lines down to the original female ancestor.

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? How does DNA testing work?

Once you decide on a particular test, you’ll either have to order a test kit or provide a DNA sample in a certified institution.

The sample then gets processed by your company of choice and generates raw data. Raw DNA data is used to produce adequate results, which you can then view at your leisure.

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? How to choose the best DNA test for me?

The best way to make a decision is by finding a delicate balance between your personal needs/expectations and the budget available to fund the endeavor. Go through the 3 groups of DNA tests and simply locate the results you want to have.

If you’re interested in discovering more about your origins and past relatives, an ancestry test will fit the bill.

If you need proof of a biological relationship (paternity, maternity, grandpaternity, and so on), either as a legal document or out of curiosity, a paternity test will answer those questions.

Health-related DNA tests will put your mind at ease or allow you to take the necessary steps in advance regarding potential hereditary conditions.

It’s a pretty clear-cut choice without many overlaps, so it all comes down to your curiosities or urgencies.

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? How to choose the best DNA testing company?

You should choose the best DNA testing company for your needs by matching the features of all the companies that caught your interest during the initial research.

Factors of importance include the size of their in-house database, scientific credentials, quality of the test, and overall service.

You’ll want to know how many potential DNA relatives you’ll be able to find, whether the company employs highly trained professionals in the field, how efficient and accurate their test is, how many genetic markers it checks, whether they value your privacy, etc.

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? How to order a DNA test?

All DNA testing companies offer online ordering through their websites. In some instances, you can purchase sample collection kits though big shopping portals as well.

You can also order a DNA test as a gift to someone and have it shipped to their address.

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? What are the best DNA test kit shipping options?

USPS first class shipping proved to be the most convenient method in our experience. It performs well for both domestic and international shipments.

Just make sure the chosen company offers a pre-paid mailer for sending the sample back to them. Otherwise, you’ll need to cover the shipping charges for the kit.

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? What kind of sample will I have to provide?

Modern DNA tests use either saliva, buccal cells or blood. Prenatal paternity tests can also be done through amniotic fluid.

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? Can a DNA sample be collected at home?

Yes, that is the predominant practice with most DNA tests. A paternity test that is taken at home, however, will not have any legal strength since the chain of custody cannot be determined.

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? Is there an age minimum for DNA testing?

No. Paternity tests, for example, can be performed even before the baby is born.

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? Can drug consumption affect the results?

No, it cannot.

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? Can I eat before a DNA test?

Food cannot alter your DNA, but it can contaminate the buccal swab and saliva, rendering the sample unfit for processing.

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? Are DNA tests expensive and what do I get for the price?

DNA tests are far less expensive today than just a few years back, mostly thanks to the development and wide acceptance of the direct-to-customer business model. The prices range from around 70&36#; up to about 600$.

The most expensive tests are paternity tests with legal validity. Ancestry and genomic (health) DNA tests remain on the lower end of the price spectrum.

With relationship tests, you’ll either get a positive or negative result. The results can be used in courts, immigration offices, and other government-sanctioned bodies.

Ancestry test results include genetic and ethnic ancestry, maps with locations of your ancestral habitats and migrations, the possibility of including your newly discovered relatives in your personal family tree, chromosome comparisons, lifetime membership with the company, free updates, and insight into millions of uploaded records, photos, and documents.

Health tests provide a forewarning about potential condition-carrying genes, allowing you ample time to take every precaution necessary.

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? Are there any payment plans/coupons/discounts available?

Top 10 DNA tests keeps a regularly updated page with all the coupons currently available for DNA testing services.

Discounts are a regular occurrence among DNA testing companies and they can also be monitored through our website.

Payment plans are available only for the most expensive of tests, paternity being permanently on top of that list.

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? Does collecting additional DNA specimens cost extra?

Yes, but once you order the first kit, the price for every next one is around 5$.

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? How long will I have to wait for the results?

The turnaround time depends on the type of test and the complexity of the various factors involved.

Paternity tests can offer results within 2-3 days whereas more complicated family reconstruction cases will take 2-4 weeks.

Ancestry tests usually arrive after 6-8 weeks, but in some instances, it might take them 8-12 weeks.

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? Where can I see my DNA test results?

Usually on your personal page within the company’s website.

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? How accurate are DNA tests/results?

Paternity and relationships tests are 99.99% accurate. They are the most reliable methods of establishing or negating biological connections.

With ancestry and health tests, it all depends on the scope of the test itself. By scope, we mean the number of genetic markers tested, the number of world regions explored, and so on. So, it is impossible to give an estimate without that kind of data.

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? Will I get medical/health-related reports with ancestry DNA tests?

This is not a common practice, but you should check with your chosen company.

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? Will ancestry DNA test results indicate my Native American/Jewish/Maori/Aboriginal ethnicity?

Some of them will. In our experience, though, none of the singular ancestry DNA tests gives reports on all of the mentioned ethnicities.

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? Are my DNA test results legally binding and admissible in court?

If you choose that testing option and follow the proper protocol, then yes. The important thing with legal DNA tests is not to break the provable chain of custody at any time.

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? What is raw DNA data and why do I need it?

Simply said, raw DNA files are your initial test results. In their rudimentary form, they are just endless and unreadable sequences of numbers. They are later “translated” into comprehensive results you can see on the company’s website.

Raw DNA can be uploaded to another company’s database in order to find potential relatives there. Some of the providers don’t allow this, however.

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? Is my personal data secure/do companies share it with anyone?

All the companies have strict privacy policies and they will never share your personal information with third parties without your explicit consent.

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? Who can see my personal data?

Only you and your relatives, if you allow them to. You can also selectively filter the information you want publicly available.
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