I utilize DNA matches in various ways, some of which are a little unusual. In many cases, I mine autosomal DNA matches to search for people whose Y and mitochondrial DNA can provide descendants, including me and them, with additional insights into our common ancestors.
Y and mitochondrial DNA connects testers to their ancestors in ways that autosomal cannot. It’s a different type of DNA, not combined with the DNA of the other parent, so it’s not diluted and halved in each generation like autosomal DNA. Y and mitochondrial lines each descend from only one ancestral line, rich in historical information, with the ability to reach far back in time along with the ability to connect testers recently.
The very first thing you can do to further your own research is to test yourself in three ways:
- Autosomal DNA – Test at all 4 primary testing vendors, meaning FamilyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, Ancestry and 23andMe. The reason for testing at (or transferring to) multiple vendors is because they each have a unique focus and tools. Perhaps more importantly, they each have different people in their databases. Each testing company has benefits. FamilyTreeDNA has people who tested as long as 20 years ago and are no longer available for testing. MyHeritage has many European testers and you’ll find matches there that you won’t find elsewhere if your ancestors came from Europe. Ancestry has the largest database, but fewer advanced tools.
- Full Sequence Mitochondrial DNA – Available at FamilyTreeDNA, this test allows focus solely on your matrilineal line, meaning your mother’s mother’s mother’s line directly without confusion introduced by DNA from other lines.
- Y DNA – For males only, also available at FamilyTreeDNA, provides focus on the direct patrilineal, or surname, line.
Obviously, if you haven’t upgraded your own Y and mitochondrial DNA tests to the highest level possible, the first thing you can do is to test or upgrade to the highest level where you receive the most refined amount of information.
(There’s a sale at FamilyTreeDNA right now, lasting until August 31, 2020, so it’s a great time to upgrade or order Y and mitochondrial. Check it out here.)
Different Kinds of DNA Serve Different Genealogical Purposes
Let’s look, briefly at how the various types of DNA tests benefit genealogy. Autosomal tests that you and family members can take will help you find other family members to test for specific Y and mitochondrial DNA lines.
Remember that you can test family members in addition to yourself, so if you’re a female, you may want to recruit your father or an uncle or brother to represent your patrilineal line DNA. If you’d like to read a brief article about the different types of DNA and their benefits, 4 Kinds of DNA for Genetic Genealogy is a good resource.
In this image, you can see that if you’re a male you can test for both your Y (blue-square) and mitochondrial DNA (red-circle) ancestral lines. If you’re a female, you can test only your mitochondrial DNA because females don’t have a Y chromosome. Both males and females, of course, can test (green) autosomal DNA which reveals a different type of connection to all of your ancestral lines, but with autosomal, you have to figure out which people match you on which lines.
Y and mitochondrial DNA provides you with a different type of information about laser-focused specific lines that you can’t obtain through autosomal testing, and reaches back in time far beyond the curtain when surnames were adopted.
You personally can only test for the red-circle mitochondrial DNA line, and perhaps the blue-square Y DNA line if you’re a male. Unless you find family members to test for the Y and mitochondrial DNA of your ancestors, you’re leaving valuable information unresearched. That means all those colored boxes and squares that aren’t blue or red.
I’ve solved MANY brick walls using both Y and mitochondrial DNA, often in conjunction with autosomal.
Let’s take a look at each type of DNA testing a little more in-depth, so that you understand how each one works and why they are important to genealogy.
Y DNA – Y DNA descends through the direct male paternal line and is inherited by men only. You match against other Y DNA testers, hopefully finding surname links.
The Big Y test and upgrade at FamilyTreeDNA provides testers with all 111 traditional STR markers, plus another 589+ STRs available only in the Big Y test, plus a scan of the balance of the rest of the Y chromosome that is useful for genealogy. SNP results are increasingly being used for genealogy, in addition to STRs.
SNPs group men into genetic lineages and STRs help with defining and refining the closest generations when matching to each other. Often, the benefits of these two tests overlap, which is why I recommend that males test to the Big Y-700 level which provides 700+ STR markers plus all SNPs with mutations that define ancestral lineages.
Y DNA haplogroups, derived from SNPs, reveal the geographic part of the world where the lineage originated, such as Europe, the Americas, Asia and Africa, as well as a migration path across the continents based on where SNPs are and were historically found. Ancient DNA samples are being added to the database.
If you or a family member took an earlier Y DNA test, you can upgrade to the Big Y-700 today which provides you with matching for both the STR markers and separately, SNP markers, along with other genealogical tools.
You can order or upgrade your Y DNA here. Don’t forget family members accounts you may control. They may agree to have their kit upgraded too.
To upgrade, sign in to your account, and click on your desired upgrade level under Y DNA testing.
Then click on upgrades.
I wrote about Y DNA in these recent articles:
I have more Y DNA articles planned for the future.
You can search for additional articles by going to the main page of this blog and enter “Y DNA” into the search box for additional articles already published.
Many features such as the matches maps, haplogroup origins and ancestral origins pages are the same for Y DNA results as mitochondrial DNA results. You can view mitochondrial articles here.
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) – Mitochondrail DNA descends through the direct matrilineal line to both sexes of children. Everyone has mitochondrial DNA and it is inherited matrilineally by you from your mother, from her mother, from her mother, etc.
The FMS or full mitochondrial sequence DNA test tests the entire mitochondria that provides information about your direct matrilineal line. Family Tree DNA provides matching, which can sometimes lead to genealogical breakthroughs such as when I identified Lydia Brown, the mother of my Phoebe Crumley and then a couple years later, her mother, Phoebe Cole – via mitochondrial DNA. Those discoveries led us to her mother, Mary Mercy Kent, via genealogy records. All we needed was to punch our way through that initial brick wall – and mitochondrial DNA was our battering ram.
Additionally, you’ll receive a full haplogroup designation which allows you to look back in time before the advent of surnames and identifies the location where your ancestral line came from. For those seeking confirmation of Native American heritage, Y and mitochondrial DNA provides unquestionable proof and doesn’t wash out in time as autosomal DNA does.
Mitochondrial DNA includes haplogroups, matching and other genealogical tools.
You can order or upgrade you or a family member’s mitochondrial DNA here.
To upgrade, sign in to your account, and click on the desired upgrade level.
Then click on Upgrade if you’re upgrading or Add On if you’re ordering a new product for yourself.
I wrote several mitochondrial DNA articles and compiled them into a summary article for your convenience.
Autosomal DNA – With autosomal DNA testing, you test once and there’s not an upgrade unless the vendor changes DNA testing platforms, which is rare. Each of the four vendors compares your DNA with all other people who’ve taken that test, or transferred from other companies. They match you with descendants from all of your ancestral lines. While the Y and mtDNA tests look back deeply in time as well as recently on one specific line, the autosomal tests are broad but not deep, spanning all ancestral lines, but limited to approximately 10 generations.
Each autosomal vendor has unique benefits and focus as well as shortcomings. I’ve listed the major points for each vendor relative to searching for Y and mitochondrial
DNA testing candidates. It’s important to understand the advantages of each vendor because it will help you understand the testers you are most likely to find in each database and may help focus your search.
FamilyTreeDNA’s Family Finder
- Because FamilyTreeDNA archives customer’s DNA for 25 years, many people who tested Y or mitochondrial DNA 20 years ago and are now deceased upgraded to autosomal tests when they became available, or have been upgraded by family members since. These early testers often reach back another generation or so into the past to people born a century ago.
- Advanced autosomal matching integrates with Y and mitochondrial DNA along with surname and other projects
- Phased Family Matching provides the ability to link family members that match you to your tree which allows Family Tree DNA to group matches as paternal or maternal by utilizing matching segments to the same side of your family
- Genetic Affairs, a third-party tool available for testers, builds common trees by reading the trees of your matches and comparing their trees with your own to identify common ancestors.
- Genetic Affairs builds trees and pedigrees of your matches by searching for common ancestors in your MATCHES trees, even if you have no tree or don’t share those ancestors in your tree. This functionality includes Y and mitochondrial DNA if you have tested. This facilitates discovery of common ancestors of the people who you match, which may well lead you to ancestral discoveries as well.
- Genetic Affairs offers clustering of your shared matches.
- DNA file transfers are accepted from other vendors, free, with a $19 one time fee to unlock advanced tools.
- Family Tree DNA has tested people worldwide, with a few location exceptions, since inception in the year 2000.
- No direct triangulation, but Phased Family Matching provides maternal and paternal side triangulation when matches can be grouped into maternal and paternal sides.
- Matches and segment match information are available for download.
- The great thing about the advanced matching tool at Family Tree DNA is that it facilitates searching for people who match you on different kinds of tests, so it helps determine the potential closeness or distance of Y and mitochondrial relationships.
- MyHeritage offers genealogical records (separate from DNA testing) and is quite popular in Europe, which encourages European DNA testers. Testers are likely to find European matches that aren’t available elsewhere.
- MyHeritageDNA test is sold worldwide with a few exceptions.
- Theories of Family Relativity utilizes DNA, genealogical records and trees together to connect you and your DNA matches to common ancestors.
- MyHeritage offers triangulation in addition to other tools such as common geography.
- Genetic Affairs AutoClusters are incorporated and available for MyHeritage customers who test at MyHeritage or transfer to MyHeritage and unlock the advanced tools.
- Transfers from other vendors are free, here, with an unlock for advanced tools available for $29.
- Matches are available for download.
- No Y or mitochondrial DNA. Genetic Affairs AutoTree and AutoPedigree are not available.
- Ancestry has the largest database, but did not begin testing until 2012 and did not test widely outside of the US/UK for some time. They now sell tests in 34 countries. Their testers are primarily focused in the US, Canada, England, Scotland, Ireland, and diaspora, with some overlap into Europe.
- Ancestry offers ThruLines, a tool that connects testers whose DNA matches with common ancestors in their trees.
- Ancestry does not provide a chromosome browser, a tool provided by the other three primary testing companies, nor do they provide triangulation or matching segment location information necessary to confirm that you match on the same segment with other people.
- Ancestry has issued cease and desist orders to third party tools that perform functions such as clustering, autotrees, autopedigrees or downloading of matches. Ancestry does not provide these types of features for their users.
- Ancestry does not accept transfers, so if you want to be in Ancestry’s database, you must test with Ancestry.
- No Y or mitochondrial DNA testing available.
- Match list is not available for download.
- The primary focus of 23andMe has always been health testing, so many people who test at 23andMe are not interested in genealogy.
- 23andMe tests are sold in about 50 countries, but not worldwide.
- 23andMe provides a chromosome browser, triangulation, segment information and a beta genetically constructed tree for close matches.
- 23andMe does NOT support a genealogical tree either uploaded or created on their site, making tree comparisons impossible.
- Genetic Affairs AutoCluster works at 23andMe, but AutoTree and AutoPedigree do not because 23andMe does not support trees.
- 23andMe does make match files available for downloading.
- No Y or mitochondrial DNA full testing or matching, but basic haplogroups are provided.
- 23andMe caps matches at 2000, less any matches that have opted out of matching. My matches currently number 1770.
- 23andMe does not accept transfers from other vendors, so if you want to be in their database, you must test with 23andMe.
Reaching Out to Find Testers
Unfortunately, we only carry the mitochondrial DNA of our mother and only men carry the Y DNA of their father. That means if we want to obtain that DNA information about our other family lines, we have to find people who descend appropriately from the ancestor in question and test that person.
I’ll share with you how I search for people who descend from each ancestor. After finding that person, I explain the situation, why the different kinds of tests are important, and offer a testing scholarship for the Y or mtDNA test at Family Tree DNA if they have not already taken that test. If they’ve tested their autosomal DNA elsewhere. I also explain that they can transfer their autosomal DNA file for free too and will receive new matches.
Here’s an article with links to upload/download instructions for each testing company. Feel free to share.
Each DNA testing company has different features, but you can use all of the companies to find people descended in the appropriate way from each ancestor. It’s easier if you know how to utilize each vendor’s tools to optimize your chances of success. I’m going to step you through the search process with hints and tips for each vendor.
Finding Y DNA and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at FamilyTreeDNA
Because FamilyTreeDNA tests for both Y and mitochondrial DNA and has for 20 years, you stand a better chance of finding a candidate there who may have already tested, so that’s where I always begin.
Let’s say, for example, that I need to find a male descendant of my Ferverda line in order to ask them to test for Y DNA. The person can be descended from either a close relative, if I know of one, or a more distant relative that I don’t know, but need to find through searching other ways.
Search for Surnames and Projects at Family Tree DNA
First, search the FamilyTreeDNA website for your goal surname among existing testers, and then the appropriate surname project to see if your line has already tested.
On the main page, here, scroll down to until you see the prompt, above, and enter the surname. Be sure to consider alternate spellings too.
In this case, I see that there is a Ferverda surname project with 18 people, and scrolling on down, that 4 people with this specific surname have tested.
However, searching for an alternate spelling, the way it’s spelled in the Netherlands, I find that another 10 people have tested.
Of course, some may be females, but they probably know males by that surname.
First, I’m going to check the Ferverda DNA project to see if a Ferverda male from my line has tested, and if so, to what level.
Click on the project link in the search results to see the DNA Project.
Note two things. First, the administrator’s name, as you may need this later. If you click on their name, their email address is displayed.
Second, click on DNA Results and select Y DNA if you’re presented with a choice. If the project has a public facing page, and most do, you’ll see something like the following information.
Hey look, it’s my lucky day, given that both of these men descend from my ancestor. I happen to know that they have both taken the Big Y test, because I’m the project administrator, but you won’t know that. One way to get an idea is if they have less than the full 111 markers showing, they probably haven’t taken the Big Y, because a 111 upgrade is included in the Big Y test today.
You have three options at this point to contact one of these men:
- See if the people are on your own autosomal DNA match list, or the match lists of kits from that family that you manage. If so, you can view their email address and contact them. If you haven’t yet tested autosomally, meaning the Family Finder test, at Family Tree DNA, you can transfer autosomal tests from elsewhere, for free, which means you will be viewing matches within hours or a couple days. Otherwise, you can order a Family Finder test, of course.
- If the person with the Ferverda or Ferwerda surname is not on your Family Finder match list, reach out to the project administrator with a note to the person you want to contact and ask the administrator to forward your email to the project member.
- If the administrator doesn’t answer, contact Family Tree DNA support and make the same request.
Checking Family Finder, one of those people is on my match list and I’m pretty sure it’s the right person, because when I click on his profile, not only does the haplogroup match the DNA project, but so does the ancestor.
Searching Family Finder
If there isn’t a DNA project match you can identify as your direct line ancestor, you can search your Family Finder matches for the surname to find a male with that surname. If your match has a tree, see if your ancestor or ancestral line is showing, then note whether they have taken a Y DNA test. They may have taken a Y test, but have not joined a project or not entered any “earliest known ancestor.” You can see which tests they’ve taken by looking at the little tabs above their profile on their tree, or on their profile card.
Regardless, you’re now in touch with a potential contact.
Don’t dismiss females with that surname, or people who show that surname in their ancestral surname list. Women with the surname you’re looking for may have husbands, fathers, brothers or uncles who descend from the line you are seeking.
Utilize Genetic Affairs
My ace in the hole at FamilyTreeDNA is the Genetic Affairs AutoTree and AutoPedigree function.
Genetic Affairs is a third-party tool that you can use to assist with analysis of your matches at FamilyTreeDNA.
At Genetic Affairs, selecting AutoTree generates trees where common ancestors of you and your matches, or your matches to each other, are displayed.
Your goal is to identify people descended from a common ancestor either directly paternally through all males for Y DNA or through all females to the current generation, which can be males, for mitochondrial DNA.
This article provides step-by-step instructions for the Genetic Affairs AutoTree and AutoPedigree functions.
Mitochondrial DNA lineages are a bit more challenging because the surname changes every generation and DNA projects are unlikely to help.
The AutoTree/AutoPedigree report through Genetic Affairs serves the same purpose for mitochondrial DNA – building trees that intersect with a common ancestor. I generally drop the “minimum size of the largest DNA segment shared with the match” to 7 cM for this report. My goal running this report for this purpose isn’t to analyze autosomal DNA, but to find testing candidates based on how my matches descend from a specific ancestor, so I want to include as many matches as possible.
Family Finder Can Refine Y and mtDNA Information
In some cases, a Family Finder test can refine a potential relationship between two people who match on either Y DNA or mitochondrial. Additionally, you may want to encourage, or gift, specific matches with an upgrade to see if they continue to match you at higher testing levels.
Let’s say that two men match closely on a Y DNA test, but you’d like to know how far back the common ancestor lived.
In this instance, you can see that the second match has taken a BIg Y and a Family Finder test, but the exact match (genetic distance of 0) has not. If the first individual cannot provide much genealogy, having them take a Family Finder test would help at least rule out a relationship through second cousins and would give you at least some idea how far back in time your common ancestor may have lived. If you do match on Family Finder, you receive an estimate of your relationship and can check the match level possibilities using the DNAPainter Shared cM Tool. If they upgrade to the Big Y-700 test, you may be able to differentiate your line from theirs, or confirm when and where a split occurred – or that there is no split.
This same autosomal testing scenario works for mitochondrial DNA.
For people who have taken both tests, Family Finder plus either Y or mitochondrial DNA, the Advanced Matching menu allows you to select combinations of tests and projects to query.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at MyHeritage
MyHeritage provides a wonderful tool called Theories of Family Relativity (TOFR) which finds common ancestors between you and your DNA matches, even if the ancestor is not in both trees, so long as a path exists between the two testers’ trees using other trees or research documents, such as census records. Of course, you’ll need to verify accuracy.
At MyHeritage, select DNA Matches, then “Has Theory of Family Relativity.”
You can see that I have 65 matches with a Theory of Family Relativity. Additionally, I can then search by surname.
If I am looking for a Ferverda Y DNA candidate, I’ve found one thanks to this TOFR.
If you don’t find a tree where your match descends from your ancestor in the desired way, you can also widen the search by de-selecting Theories of Family Relativity and instead selecting SmartMatchs or shared surname combined with the name of your ancestor. There are many search and filter combinations available.
Let’s look at a mitochondrial DNA example where I’m searching for a descendant of Elizabeth Speaks who married Samuel Clarkson/Claxton.
In this case, I have one SmartMatch, which means that someone by the name of Elizabeth Speaks is found in my matches tree. I need to look to see if it’s the RIGHT Elizabeth Speaks and if my match descends through all females to the current generation. If so, I’ve found my mitochondrial DNA candidate and I can leave them a message.
You can also view SmartMatches (without a DNA match) from your own tree.
I can go to that person in my tree, click on their profile, and see how many SmartMatches I have. Clicking on 13 SmartMatches allows me to view those matches and I can click through to the connected trees.
I can also click on “research this person” to discover more.
If you’re still not successful, don’t give up quite yet, because you can search in the records for trees that shows the person whom you seek. A SmartMatch is only created if the system thinks it’s the same person in both trees. Computers are far from perfect.
Narrow the search as much as possible to make it easier to find the right individual, and then view the trees for descent in the proper manner.
Another wonderful tool at MyHeritage is the Genetic Affairs AutoCluster tool, built-in for MyHeritage users.
The above cluster shows that one person carries the surname of Elizabeth’s husband. Viewing the accompanying spreadsheet for the AutoCluster run reveals that indeed, I’ve already identified a couple of matches as descendants of the desired ancestral couple. The spreadsheet shows links to their trees, my notes and more.
Clusters show you where to look. Without the cluster, I had only identified two people as descendants of this ancestral couple. I found several more candidates to evaluate and two mitochondrial candidates are found in this cluster.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at 23andMe
23andMe is a little more tricky because they don’t support either uploaded or created user trees which makes finding descendants of a particular ancestor quite challenging.
However, 23andMe attempts to create a tree of your closer relatives genetically. which you can find under “DNA Relatives,” under the Ancestry tab, then “Family Tree” at the top.
I’ve added the names of my ancestors when I can figure out who the match is. Please note that this “created tree” is seldom exactly accurate, but there are often enough hints that you’ll be able to piece together at least some of the rest.
Here’s part of my “created” tree at 23andMe. I’m at far right.
If you’re a genealogist, your eyes are going to glaze over about now, because the “people” aren’t in the correct locations – with maternal and paternal sides of the tree swapped. Also, please note, the locations in which they place people are estimates AND 23andMe does NOT take into account or provide for half-relationships.
That said, you can still obtain candidates for Y and mitochondrial DNA testing.
In this case, I’m searching for a mitochondrial DNA candidate for Evaline Miller, my grandfather’s mother or a Y DNA candidate for the Ferverda line.
I can tell by the surname of the male match, Ferverda, that he probably descends through a son, making him a Y DNA candidate.
Both Cheryl and Laura are possible mitochondrial DNA candidates for Evaline Miller, based on this tree, depending of course on how they actually do descend.
I can contact all of my matches, but in the event that they don’t answer, I’m not entirely out of luck. If I can determine EXACTLY how the match descends, and they descend appropriately for mitochondrial DNA, I can view the match to see at least a partial haplogroup. Since 23andMe only uses relatively close matches when constructing your tree, I’m relatively likely to recognize the names of the testers and may have them in my genealogy program.
By clicking on the Ferverda male, I can see that his Y haplogroup is I-Z58. That’s not nearly as refined as the Y DNA information at Family Tree DNA, but it’s something if I have nothing else and he doesn’t answer my query that would include the offer of a Y DNA test at Family Tree DNA.
You can search at 23andMe by surname, but unless your match has entered their ancestral surnames and you recognize surnames that fit together, without a tree, unless your match answers your query, it’s very difficult to determine how you connect.
You can also view “Relatives in Common,” hoping to recognize someone you know as a common match.
Please note that 23andMe does allow testers to enter a link to a tree, but few do.
It’s worth checking, and be sure to enter your own tree link location.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at Ancestry
Ancestry’s ThruLines provides an excellent tool to find both Y and mitochondrial DNA participants.
Ancestry organizes their ThruLines by ancestor.
Select your desired Ancestor, someone whose DNA you seek. Clearly, Y DNA candidates are very easy because you simply choose any male ancestor in the correct line with the surname and look for a male match with the appropriate surname.
In this case, I’m selecting Martha Ruth Dodson, because I need her mitochondrial DNA.
By clicking on her “card” I then see my matches assigned to her ThruLine.
Obviously, for mitochondrial DNA, I’m looking for someone descended through all females, so Martha’s daughter, Elizabeth Estes’s son Robert won’t work, but her daughter, Louisa Vannoy, at left is the perfect candidate. Thankfully, my cousin whom I match, at bottom left is descended through all females to the current generation, which can be male or female, so is a mitochondrial DNA candidate.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates in Trees in General
I’ve utilized the combination of trees and DNA matches at FamilyTreeDNA through Genetic Affairs, Ancestry and MyHeritage, but you can also simply search for people who descend from the same ancestor based on their tree alone at the vendors who support trees as part of genealogical records. This includes both Ancestry and MyHeritage but also sites like Geneanet which is becoming increasingly popular, especially in Europe. (I have not worked extensively with Geneanet yet but plan to take it for a test drive soon.)
My reason for utilizing DNA matches+trees first is that the person has already been introduced to the concept that DNA can help with genealogy, and has obviously embraced DNA testing at least once. Not only that, with the assist of a Theory of Family Relativity, ThruLine or genetic Affairs automation tools, it’s much easier to find appropriate candidates.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at WikiTree
If you reach beyond DNA testing companies, WikiTree provides a valuable feature which allows people to specify that they descend from a particular ancestor, and if they have DNA tested, how they descend – including Y DNA, mitochondrial DNA and autosomal.
Here’s an example on the profile of John Y. Estes at WikiTree, one of my Estes ancestors.
If someone descends appropriately for either Y or mitochondrial DNA line, and has taken that test, their information is listed.
In this case, there are two Y DNA testers and two autosomal, but no mitochondrial DNA which would have descended from John’s mother, of course.
You can click on the little green arrow icon to see how any DNA tested person descends from the ancestor whose profile you are accessing.
Of course, the same surname for males is a good indication that the man in question is descended from that paternal line, but check to be sure, because some males took their mother’s surname for various reasons.
Here’s my line-of-descent from John Y. Estes. I can click on anyone else whose DNA information is listed as well to see how they descend from John. If they descend from John through all females, then they obviously descend from his wife though all females too which means they are a mitochondrial DNA candidate for her.
Clicking on autosomal testers may reveal someone appropriately descended from the ancestor in question.
You can then click on any ancestor shown to view their profile, and any DNA tested descendants.
By clicking on name of the descendant whose DNA test you are interested in, you’ll be able to view their profile. Look for the Collaboration section where you can send them a private message that will be delivered by email from WikiTree.
Finding Y and Mitochondrial DNA Candidates at GedMatch
One final avenue to find Y and mitochondrial DNA candidates is through GedMatch, It’s probably the least useful option, though, because the major vendors all have some sort of tree function, except for 23andMe, and for some reason, many people have not uploaded GEDCOM files (trees) to GEDmatch.
Therefore, if you can find someone on GedMatch that tested elsewhere perhaps, such as LivingDNA who also provides a base haplogroup, or 23andMe, and they uploaded a GEDCOM file (tree) to GedMatch, you can utilize the GEDmatch “Find common ancestors” automated tree-matching functionality.
GEDmatch produces a list of your matches with common ancestors in their trees, allowing you to select the appropriate ancestor or lineage.
I wrote step-by-step instructions in the article, GEDmatch Introduces Automated Tree Matching.
Additionally, GEDmatch includes the Genetic Affairs AutoCluster tool in their Tier1 subscription offering,
Gedmatch users who know their Y and mitochondrial haplogroup can enter that information in their profile and it will be reflected on the autosomal match list.
In summary, each testing vendor has a different focus and unique tools that can be used to search for Y and mitochondrial DNA candidates. Additionally, two other resources, WikiTree and GEDmatch, although not DNA testing vendors, can lead to discovering Y and mtDNA candidates as well.
I’ve created a quick-reference chart.
|Family Tree DNA||MyHeritage||Ancestry||23andMe||Wikitree||GEDmatch|
|Y DNA Test||Yes||No||No||No, partial haplogroup provided||No test, listed by ancestor||No, user entered|
|mtDNA Test||Yes||No||No||No, partial haplogroup provided||No test, listed by ancestor||No, user entered|
|Strengths other than mentioned categories||20 year worldwide customer base, phased family matching||European focus, SmartMatches, wide variety of filters||Largest autosomal database||Genetic tree beta||DNA by ancestor||May include users not found elsewhere who tested outside the major companies|
|Drawbacks||No direct triangulation or tree matching||No Genetic Affairs AutoTree or AutoPedigree||Can’t download matches, no triangulation, clusters, AutoTree, or AutoPedigree||No trees, 2000 match limit||“One tree” may be incorrect||Few trees, no AutoTree or AutoPedigree|
|Clustering||Genetic Affairs||Included in advanced tools||No, prohibited||Genetic Affairs||N/A||Included in Tier1|
|Genetic Affairs AutoTree & AutoPedigree||Yes||No||No||No, no tree support||N/A||No|
|Tree matching between users||No, through Genetic Affairs||Theories of Family Relativity||ThruLines||No||Not directly||MRCA common ancestors in Tier1|
Now it’s your turn. Which Y and mitochondrial DNA lines can you find today?
I receive a small contribution when you click on some of the links to vendors in my articles. This does NOT increase the price you pay but helps me to keep the lights on and this informational blog free for everyone. Please click on the links in the articles or to the vendors below if you are purchasing products or DNA testing.
Thank you so much.
DNA Purchases and Free Transfers
- FamilyTreeDNA – Y, mitochondrial and autosomal DNA testing
- MyHeritage DNA – ancestry autosomal DNA only, not health
- MyHeritage DNA plus Health
- MyHeritage FREE DNA file upload – transfer your results from other vendors free
- AncestryDNA – autosomal DNA only
- 23andMe Ancestry – autosomal DNA only, no Health
- 23andMe Ancestry Plus Health
Genealogy Products and Services
- MyHeritage FREE Tree Builder – genealogy software for your computer
- MyHeritage Subscription with Free Trial
- Legacy Family Tree Webinars – genealogy and DNA classes, subscription-based, some free
- Legacy Family Tree Software – genealogy software for your computer
- Charting Companion – Charts and Reports to use with your genealogy software or FamilySearch
- Legacy Tree Genealogists – professional genealogy research
This is unrelated, but I noticed that many of my “longest segments” now listed on ancestry are longer than what they say the total cM shared is. I do not get this. I will have a match that I share 7.9 cM with, but my longest segment they list as shared is 10 cM. This happens very frequently at the lower end matches. What is up? Are they now reporting shared segments from the X and Y chromosomes like 23andme and getting larger shared segments from there, or does this mean that either my match or I have a longer segment in that spot, but that the shared part is smaller? I don’t get it. Also, if I share 7 cm with someone, but our longest segment is 9 cm – does this mean it will not be deleted at the end of the month?
I have no idea. It’s a hot mess.
They say on ancestry :
“In some cases, the length of the longest shared segment is greater than the total length of shared DNA. This is because we adjust the length of shared DNA to reflect DNA that is most likely shared from a recent ancestor. Sometimes, DNA can be shared for reasons other than recent ancestry, such as when two people share the same ethnicity or are from the same regions.”
However, to me this still makes no sense, how do they know if they are actually recent or not?
In once case my longest shared segment is almost double at 14% – so will it not be deleted?
In WikiTree you can also see which males (in WikiTree) with a particular surname have taken a Y chromosome test. For example here are those with the Hill surname:
Thanks for posting this! However, the summary chart got the two rightmost fields truncated on my device, i.e. Wikitree and Gedmatch are not visible. Perhaps its due to the WordPress app I’m using although just updated 😕
I’ve found Geni.com a lot more useful than Wikitree
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Very Interesting. I do have a question – I had my family
y dna and mt dna done. I am having no problems tracking down y dna matches- my private family tree data base is about 15,000 people. Now mt DNA – I have two 0 distance matches one is a male cousin but his mother is my mothers sister so that makes sense. I have another 0 distance match in England – we cannot find the connection. My mothers family all lived in England so that also made sense. Now – I found a 3rd male cousin in Sweden (My paternal side) which is where my father’s family came from. The strange thing is this male 3rd cousin has a match of 1 to my mt DNA. Now if I am correct that would come from his mother – which to me means his mother and my mother must have had a common female relative sometime back in time. Am I correct in thinking this? Regards, Sheila
Yes, assuming you match that person. But it could be a very long time ago.