Many One-namers are using DNA Analysis to connect family groups and prove the connection between name variants. DNA testing for a surname and variants is typically organised as a project, called a DNA Project or Surname Project and led by a project administrator.

There are two kinds of DNA tests which can be used for genealogical purposes:

Y-chromosome DNA : This is the test which is widely used for one-name studies. It reports a result for markers on the Y-chromosome, which is passed, typically unchanged, from father to son. Since the surname is also typically passed down from father to son, the Y-chromosome test can be very valuable for a one-name study, as it tells you about the direct male line. Only males can take this test, since females do not have a Y-chromosome.

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) : mtDNA is inherited by both males and females, though it is passed on only by females. This test tells you about the direct female line, i.e. your mother, her mother, her mother's mother, and so on back in time. Both males and females can take this test, but since a woman's surname usually changes with marriage, mtDNA testing has more limited genealogical applications, and is not of use for one-name studies.

DNA testing for genealogy originated in 2000, and several vendors have entered and left the marketplace. Most companies offer a variety of prices depending on the number of markers you choose to have tested. It is important to first establish a DNA Project before ordering any tests, since the vendors provide lower prices for test kits ordered within a project. Current DNA companies include:

Company Website address
Family Tree

The vendors' web sites provide clear and useful explanations of the science, technology and interpretation of DNA. It is important to read this information so that you have a good understanding of what DNA can and cannot add to your one-name study, and so that you can give some explanation to those who are interested.

Taking a DNA test is simple. A test kit is sent by post to the person taking the test. He swabs the inside of his mouth with the cotton-wool sticks provided in the kit, and sends it back. After a period of weeks, the results are ready and are sent to the person who supplied the test and to the project administrator.

Undertaking a DNA project is an opportunity to establish genealogical linkages absent from the historical paper records. If you have identified family trees for your surname, you can establish the DNA pattern for each tree. To accomplish this, you would test two distant direct male line descendants from each tree; if their patterns match, you have established the pattern for the progenitor of the tree. If their patterns are close, testing an additional person will usually identify the progenitor's pattern. The resulting patterns for the different family trees are then compared, to determine which trees share a common ancestor.

Long thin blue line © Guild of One-Name Studies 2012 This page was last modified 23 Mar 2012, 23:45
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