This DNA testing service, online at http://dna.ancestry.com/, provides Ancestry.com's growing network of more than 15 million users a tool that helps solve family-tree mysteries through science. By taking a simple cheek-swab test and comparing DNA test results in DNA Ancestry's expanding results database, individuals may be able to extend the branches of their family trees, prove (or disprove) family legends, discover living relatives they never knew existed and find new leads where traditional paper trails dead end.
"DNA testing in family history is reaching critical mass," said Megan Smolenyak, Chief Family Historian for Ancestry.com and co-author of the no. 1 selling book on genetic genealogy, Tracing Your Roots with DNA. "As more people add their results, the DNA Ancestry database becomes a powerful asset for users to make connections and discover their family tree. Already, many people have taken a simple DNA test to uncover genetic cousins and tap into their research, gathering names, dates, places and stories for their own family tree."
DNA Ancestry offers Y-DNA and mtDNA tests -- the two types of DNA tests most useful in family history, ranging in price from $149 to $199. The Y-DNA test analyzes the DNA in the Y chromosome, which is passed virtually unchanged from father to son. Test results can help users identify living individuals who share Y-DNA as well as predict ancient ancestors' origins. Women can benefit from Y-DNA by having their father or other related male take the test. The mtDNA test analyzes DNA in an individual's mitochondrial DNA, which passes from a mother to her children. Test results predict ancient ancestors' origins and migration route from Africa and can aid in identifying living cousins.
In the coming months, DNA results will integrate with online Ancestry.com family trees. Users DNA results can be added to their family trees, which already contain uploaded family photographs, stories and other media files, historical documents found on Ancestry.com and life timelines of their ancestors. Adding DNA results to a family tree multiplies a user's chances to find and make connections with genetic cousins -- and extend their family tree's branches.
By year's end, DNA Ancestry users will be able to create and join DNA Groups -- organized social networks that let users work together to discover genetic connections. For example, people with the last name "Washington" could use their DNA tests results to determine how they are all related.
"Ultimately, we are combining three major pillars of family history research -- DNA, historical records and social networking -- to offer users an unmatched, revolutionary family history resource," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of The Generations Network, parent company of Ancestry.com. "DNA can be a powerful family-tree building catalyst, regardless of whether you are just beginning to find your roots or a seasoned genealogist experiencing research barriers."
DNA Ancestry uses the state-of-the-art DNA laboratories of Sorenson Genomics, the world's first laboratory accredited for genealogy testing services, to analyze users' DNA samples. A pioneer in the relatively new science of genetic genealogy, Sorenson Genomics has provided genetic testing solutions to help genealogists extend branches of family trees since 2001.