Living DNA Review - UPDATED Feb 2018
The company’s maxim “Find out where you really come from” best portrays the scope of the ancestry test catered by the titled conglomerate. Our Living DNA review will answer the most relevant of questions you may have concerning this test.
The company originated in 2016, out of DNA Worldwide Group’s need for a more precise focus on genetic ancestry testing. The said parent company was founded in 2004 and has since developed many a genetic test. They have collaborated with Scotland’s DNA, Family Tree DNA, and people behind The British Isle Study of 2015. They are partnered with 100+ world-leading genetics experts, scientists, and academic researchers. The fresh platform was designed to cultivate the most detailed and accurate projection of your family tree, reaching back to time immemorial.
The company’s key personnel are David Nicholson (managing director) and Hannah Morden (marketing director). In their own words, the goal of Living DNA is showing the humanity that we’re all made up of all of us. Continue reading this Living DNA review for more information.
How Living DNA Works
The protocol is rather elementary, including the following steps:
- Online order, through the option offered on the website. The test kit is then sent straight to the provided address.
- Kit activation is also done online, for the purpose of correlating your sample with the results.
- Sample collection with the provided easy-to-operate mouth swab.
- Posting the kit back, using the provided free returns bag.
- Viewing your results online within 10 to 12 weeks.
There is not much to say about the kit itself. There are two mouth-swab collectors packed in a cardboard box, alongside an instructional brochure. The decision to go with mouth swabs instead of saliva containers definitely makes the shipping process safer for the samples.
Why Choose Living DNA
The benefits are, in fact, numerous. This Living DNA review, however, will focus on the pivotal ones.
Let’s take a look at the main advantages:
- Cutting-edge software innovations and DNA chip technology
- Collaboration with top scientists and researchers of the world
- The most region-specific results regarding your ancestry and DNA roots. Living DNA covers 80 different regions around the world
- They have the British Isles represented via 21 regions, which gives the most in-depth regional DNA breakdown for people originating from those areas
- You will also be given raw data results, which you can use on genealogy research sites for extra info
- Free shipping
- Quick results (10 to 12 weeks)
- Free test updates
Here are some of the disadvantages usually mentioned:
- Expensive endeavor (the full price of the test is 159$, although it’s currently on sale for 139$)
- The results do not mention genetic potential for certain illnesses and other health-related repercussions
- Living DNA doesn’t allow access to its database, so there is no option of browsing through other members and finding potential relatives
There is only one test available (for now). It follows an all-in-one principle and is simply called “Ancestry Chip Test.” Rather than looking at it as a solitary test, though, you can perceive it as three separate tests wrapped in one.
It is based on a customized version of the Illumina Chip Tech, the GSA (Global Screen Array). The high precision comes from representing each of the 650,000 encoded markers at least 15 times.
The test is autosomal, which means it researches all of the 22 autosomal chromosomes. The remaining 23rd pair is known as the sex chromosome (X or Y), determining the sex of the person. Autosomal chromosomes are the richest repositories of information concerning your heritage and Living DNA covers them all.
The purpose of the test can ultimately be reduced to determining the DNA polymorphisms as a bundle of preselected locations in your genome. Said locations dictate all of your characteristics and reveal your ancestry. These “locations” are the aforementioned encoded markers (650,000 of them).
Understanding The Results
The software and various systems used to interpret and analyze DNA samples have been designed in association with leading academics from Oxford and Bristol University. Over 25 experts were included in the projects as well.
The test results offer:
- Motherline ancestry – You will see your assignment in the maternal haplogroup, representing the location of your branch on the human family tree. Everyone with your haplogroup will be connected to an ancient ancestor who lived tens of thousands of years in the past. The percentages will also show the highest point of geographical impact for your haplogroup.
- Fatherline ancestry – This section of the results is exclusively available to males. Females lack the Y chromosome, which needs to be explored for information on fatherline genealogy. The results follow the same blueprint as the previous category in order to determine the father’s side of your human family tree branch.
- Family ancestry – This part will give you data on the highest similarity between world populations and your autosomal DNA. Given that your DNA is checked against 80 different world regions, the results should be pretty accurate and on-point.
- A conveniently named “back in time” map.
The DNA-testing arena is filled with odd and scientific terms, which might prove too difficult to understand. That’s why we’ll explain the science behind the test results.
Mother/fatherline ancestry results explained:
- Haplogroups and subclades – The numbers and letters found here are just the names of genetic signatures. They’re represented via numbers and letters because marker—identification would be too drawn-out. A set of said markers is what makes your “personal signature,” otherwise known as a subclade. A group of related subclades makes a haplogroup.
- Coverage map – Shows where in the whole world your haplogroup has the highest relevance.
- History – Historic and genetic information on your haplogroup; a potential revelation on how it came to be.
- Migration map – Shows a potential migration route your motherline lineage took from Africa onwards.
- Phylogenetic tree – It positions your subclade on the family tree for entire humanity.
We’ll also further explain the “female conundrum” regarding paternal ancestry. Autosomal results are filed under family ancestry since autosomal genes are inherited both from the father and the mother. Mitochondrial results, however, are what determines our motherlines. Mitochondrial DNA is passed down from mothers to both male and female children unchanged. This is a closer explanation of what makes your haplogroup. The ability to follow one’s ancestry millennia in reverse is owed to the unchanging nature of the mother’s mitochondrial DNA.
Alas, the Y chromosome is needed in order to generate fatherline results. If a female consumer wants information on the said lineage, her father, brother, paternal grandfather or uncle will have to be tested to acquire that data. Once finished, you can see your results in the secure section of the customer platform. The system is very user-friendly and features helpful images and explanations. The optional printed version can also be obtained with a surcharge. The extra fee is region-dependent, but it’s usually around 70$.
Living DNA offers you the possibility to take part in DNA research, ultimately aimed at uncovering connections between all the humans in the world. As Living DNA doesn’t currently perform DNA health tests, the research cannot be aimed at improving science on illness-bearing genes.
The research participation is done exclusively with the consumer’s consent, so your data will not be used for anything you haven’t explicitly allowed. Another prong of the research is showing to the world that the concept of race is biologically mute since we all come from the same geographical location and share common ancestors. Once given, your consent can also be withdrawn at any time, without any additional explanation.
Privacy And Security
Persons under 18 can only be tested with the explicit consent of their parent or legal custodian. Furthermore, the order must come from the parent’s/custodian’s e-mail address. Living DNA features an ISO:27001 certification, which means your data will be well-protected and secure at all times. All the information is kept between you and the person responsible for processing your test. The sample is processed without identity, which means the only things team members can see are your sample and the relevant ID number.
The samples are processed and raw data generated in the Eurofins laboratory in Denmark and analyzed in the UK headquarters of Living DNA. Outside of Living DNA, only you can inspect your final results.
Shipping And Handling
The easiest and fastest ordering option is through the company’s website. You can order it for yourself or as a gift. The company headquarters are situated in the UK and their facilities are in the US. With such a geographic layout, Living DNA is able to provide their tests to consumers all around the world. If you’re not from the US/UK or EU, check the customs policies relevant for your country.
A standard, untracked delivery takes approximately:
- 5-10 business days for the UK/US
- 10-15 business days for the EU
- 14-20 business days for the rest of the world
Premium delivery will take:
- 2-3 business days for the UK/US
- 5-10 business days anywhere else
Once the order is dispatched, you will receive a notification via e-mail. This message will feature your kit ID, which will be the identification number for the results. The kit will also include a prepaid return mailer. Return postage is done through 2nd class and is untracked. You can pay for the tracking option, if you so choose, however. The company has a “December disclaimer,” which pleads for understanding in case of delays during the holiday season.