Of the companies that offer DNA testing, 23andMe is one of the most famous. According to the International Society of Genetic Genealogy, 23andMe has tested the DNA of more than 5 million people, making it the second-most popular test after AncestryDNA.

This popularity provides an advantage over DNA tests from smaller services: The more people in the system, the more accurate the ethnicity estimates. 23andMe also regularly releases new reports evaluating your DNA.

For $99, you’ll get just the ancestry reports, which outline your recent ethnic heritage and the ancient forebears on your mother’s and father’s side. It also has a robust relative-matchmaking system, thanks to its large database of users.

There are various different types of DNA found in the cells of your body, but three types are of particular interest to genetic genealogy: autosomes, yDNA, and mtDNA. Autosomes are 22 pairs of non-sex chromosomes which are a mix of DNA from members on both sides of your family. On the other hand, yDNA comes from your father and mtDNA from your mother. However, only men inherit both yDNA and mtDNA, so women can just test their motherline. (Though, they could have their brother or father take the test.) 23andMe tests all three types of DNA to give you a full picture of your heritage.

23andme open kit23andMe

23andMe’s kit is very neatly put together.

Most tests, such as AncestryDNA and MyHeritage, just examine your autosomes to determine your recent ethnic ancestry. Geneticists say that autosomal tests can identify relatives 10 generations back, providing up to 95 percent accuracy when used to match recent relatives, but losing accuracy as the relation grows more distant.

The test also examines the mtDNA from your mother and yDNA (if you’re male) to determine your haplogroups. These are groups of humans we descend from that let us find out how our ancestors migrated. Thanks to haplogroups, the test is able to estimate the likely patterns your ancient ancestors took.

But there are other perks to 23andMe you won’t find elsewhere. The company uses the latest available genetic science to name key variants associated with certain traits in individuals. So in its reports you can find wackier traits that focus on elements like back hair and Neanderthal heritage.

If you shell out additional cash for 23andMe’s $199 Health + Ancestry kit, you’ll also get personalized reports related to your health. It’s a range of info that includes genetic variants that may cause health problems, like those associated with cancer and Alzheimer’s.

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