“Are unassigned DNA test kits interchangeable? Does Diahan Southard do one-on-one DNA consultations for genealogy?” A listener asks, and we have the answers.
Simona recently wrote in with compliments and two questions for Diahan Southard. Here’s the Q&A, on more resources from Diahan AND whether DNA test kits from Family Tree DNA are interchangeable if they haven’t been use:
Q: “No one, I mean NO one makes DNA easier and more interesting than…your DNA expert Diahan does! I am curious as to what Diahan charges for phone or email consults regarding who to test for what.”
A: Yes, I agree, Diahan Southard, Your DNA Guide and the resident Genealogy Gems genetics expert, is amazing! Diahan answers a lot of those initial question about who to test for what in her handy Getting Started: Genetics for the Genealogist Quick Guide (click to view/purchase). It’s very affordable and can give you inexpensive answers without needing to pay for one-on-one consultation.
That said, Diahan does offer DNA consultation services. She also teaches a series of how-to videos that’s, again, much more affordable than a consultation (and much more affordable than taking the wrong test or staring at your results afterward with NO idea what to do with them next). Like Simona says, Diahan demystifies DNA like no else does, and these video tutorials are no exception.
Genealogy Gems listeners get a discount on her video series. A year’s access to is regularly $39.95, but Gems listeners can click on a special link to get it for just $24.95. Click here to learn more.
Q: “I have 5 FamilyTree DNA kits on the counter. Are they all the same kits in the raw? I intended them for a Mtdna test, a Y test and 3 autosomal tests for various family folk. Can I switch tests and persons at this stage?”
A: Diahan says: “Yes, the Family Tree DNA kits she has can be used for any test, provided you correlate everything with the customer service team at FTDNA and get all the kit numbers changed to the appropriate tests.
Diahan Southard is definitely a valuable “GEM” here at Genealogy Gems. Whether you’re just starting to learn about DNA testing for genealogy research, or you’re trying to get the most out of your results, click here to read tons of free DNA how-tos and advice from Diahan. And thanks for sharing this post with your friends and genealogy buddies!This is so, so important as I know of too many women who have mistakenly used their husband’s YDNA kit number and had their sample run, which won’t produce any results. But FTDNA still ran the test, which means you still pay for it. So be EXTRA careful to make sure you have all of your ducks in a row.”
When it comes to chocolate my general rule of thumb is that more is usually better! The same is true with DNA testing. With this big DNA test upgrade sale, now is the perfect time to get MORE! I love being Your DNA Guide here at Genealogy Gems, and today I’ll walk you through how to get the best deal and the right tests. Take my hand, and let’s get upgrading!
This month, Family Tree DNA is running this Family Tree DNA’s Friends & Family sale, which means that all of the kits and upgrades are on sale! This sale is the perfect time to upgrade your DNA tests. (By clicking our link above you are supporting the free Genealogy Gems Podcast. It doesn’t cost you anything extra, and we will receive compensation from the affiliate link. Thank you!)
Once in your account, click the Upgrade button. In very basic terms, to Upgrade means that they are going to go back to your DNA sample that they have on file, and do more testing.
Depending on the tests you have already had completed at Family Tree DNA, you will see several different options in the Upgrade menu. Most of you will see this box, listing the option to do more advanced testing, find gene variants, or order certificates.
If you’re testing for general genealogy purposes, you can most likely ignore all of those options. The advanced testing is aptly named as it is only for very specific, very, advanced problems. The gene variant report can be interesting, but you can get a similar report for only $5 from Promethease.com. As for the certificates, that is up to you. It is a printed report of your DNA values for either your YDNA or your mtDNA test. These are nice to give to relatives that have tested for you that might want something tangible to hold as evidence of their participation in your genetic genealogy efforts.
The last option in this box is to have a personalized report written. This will be several pages of information about the DNA testing you have had completed, but don’t expect them to find your ancestors or do much interpretation of the results.
Beyond those options, if you have not had mitochondrial DNA testing completed, or if you have only had the lower mtDNAPlus test completed, you will see options to evaluate your mtDNA. If you are going to try to do family history with your mtDNA test, you need to have the Full Sequence test completed. For the most part, using mtDNA in your family history won’t get you very far, but it is a good record of your direct maternal line.
If you are a man with the YDNA test, you will also see options to upgrade your YDNA test to a higher number of markers. You will want to upgrade from 37 to 67 or 111 if you have other matches on your match page who have also tested at those higher levels and you would like to get a better comparison. You can check to see if they have tested at a higher level by looking at your match page under their name. In general, the 67 marker test will help you better decide if you are or are not related to someone, while the 111 marker test will help you better determine how you are related to known connections on your match list.
If you have not yet taken the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA, that option will present itself as well. If the person tested is still available for testing, you should actually start their autosomal DNA testing experience with AncestryDNA, then transfer for free into their FTDNA account. If your family member is deceased, then you can get permission from their closest living relative, or whoever is administrating their account, to have them tested on the Family Finder test at Family Tree DNA.
So remember my general rule of thumb when it comes to chocolate and DNA testing, more is usually better. Click here to shop the Family Tree DNA Friends & Family!
Get more help with my quick guide: Understanding Family Tree DNA.
DNA testing for kids is a great way to spark their interest in their heritage, while teaching science, math, geography, and more. Consider these reasons and start with the budget-friendly option of an autosomal test.
According to a 2010 study out of Emory University, if we want to encourage kids toward an activity that will positively impact them, we should steer them toward family history. The researchers reported, “Children who know stories about relatives who came before them show higher levels of emotional well-being.”
Now, I know I don’t need to convince you of this. You are already sold on genealogy. But let’s explore how DNA testing might be able to help you share your love of family history with your children and grandchildren.
Why Try DNA Testing for Kids
Since you know this is me, the genetic genealogist talking, you can probably guess what I’ll suggest for getting kids interested in family history. DNA testing is a great way to personally and physically involve them. There is the tangible process of taking the sample at home, and the marvel at how such a simple act can produce the amazing display of our ethnicity results. Since each of us is unique, it will be fun for them to compare with you and other relatives to see who-got-what-from-who. This will naturally lead to questions about which ancestor provided that bit of Italian or Irish, and wham! You’ll be right there to tell them about how their 5th great-grandfather crossed the ocean with only the clothes on his back, determined to make a new start in a new land.
If there are parts of the ethnicity report you can’t explain, use that as a hook to encourage them to start digging and to find out why you have that smattering of eastern European or Southeast Asian. Taking them for a tour of the DNA match page, you can show them how they share 50% of their DNA with their sister (whether they like it or not!) and how they share 25% with their grandparent!
DNA test results give kids a totally unique look at their personal identity with technology that is cutting edge. Looking at their DNA test results can turn into a math lesson, a science lesson, a geography lesson, a lesson on heredity or biology, or a discussion on identity. DNA is the perfect introduction to the wonders that genealogy can hold, especially for children.
A Warning and Caution
As with all DNA testing pursuits, this one should not be taken lightly, even with all of its benefits.
An important word to parents: Be sure to keep unintentional consequences in the forefront of your mind. This includes the possibility of revealing family secrets. Talk with your spouse and make sure you are both on the same page. In the end, this is your decision.
An important word to grandparents and other relatives: DNA testing is a parent’s decision. Even though you’re passionate about preserving the family’s history and the benefits of including children are numerous, you must obtain parental consent if you are not the parent.
More About Autosomal DNA Testing for Kids
Click here to learn more about my series of how-to videos (available to Gems fans for a special price) or start your kids’ or grandkids’ DNA journey with two of my genetic genealogy quick guides. The first is a great overview and the second talks about autosomal testing which is a good test for genetic genealogy beginners.