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Understanding DNA
MOLECULAR GENEALOGY
Why Molecular Genealogy?
Understanding DNA
Y-Chromosome DNA
Mitochondrial DNA
Animations
What is Genealogy?
Putting it All Together
Glossary
Links
Contact Us

DNA encodes the complete genetic blueprint of human beings. It's what makes the billions of people on the planet unique, yet at the same time, genetically similar to their parents and ancestors. DNA is found in most cells in the human body, and can be classified into three types that are useful in genealogy:

  • Y-Chromosome DNA (Y-DNA)
  • Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)
  • Autosomal DNA

To learn more about the science of DNA and molecular genealogy please see our Animations page, or visit the web sites on the DNA Links page under the General DNA Resources section.

Y-DNA is a type of DNA that is only carried by men, who inherit it from their fathers. This means that males with a common paternal ancestor have similar Y-DNA.

Y-DNA is particularly useful for tracing one's direct paternal line (father, paternal grandfather, etc.) because it changes slowly from generation to generation, and in most societies, the surname of the father is also inherited by his sons.

SMGF is actively engaged in Y-DNA research and has developed the world's foremost database of Y-DNA results and genealogies. Please visit the Search page to access the Sorenson Y-Database, or go to Y-Chromosome DNA to learn more about Y-DNA.

mtDNA is a type of DNA carried by both males and females, but is only inherited from the mother. This makes mtDNA useful for tracing one's direct maternal line (mother, maternal grandmother, maternal great-grandmother, etc).

SMGF is actively engaged in mtDNA research and has developed the world's foremost database of mtDNA results and genealogies. Please visit the Search page to access the Sorenson mtDatabase, or go to Mitochondrial DNA to learn more about mtDNA.

Autosomal DNA is the type of DNA responsible for most physical characteristics, such as height, eye color, etc. Autosomal DNA is inherited by sons and daughters from both parents (and from all four grandparents, etc).

SMGF is currently building the only database in the world that links autosomal DNA to genealogical information. This database will be released in the near future, and will give the world a new perspective on genetic genealogy.

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