Autosomal, Y-DNA, or Mitochondrial DNA: Which DNA test is Best?

Do you which is a better genetic genealogy test, either autosomal, y-DNA, or mitochondrial DNA?

In this post, I'll go over what you can learn from each one. As with many questions about DNA and about genealogy in general, the answer is always it depends.

How Do You Define Best for a DNA TEST?

Before giving you an answer, I have to make some assumptions of what you mean by better. And maybe you can actually use this to help create a better question to ask about DNA testing kits.

My guess is you probably are not concerned about the price of a home DNA test kit. The question "Which genetic test is better?" is not answered from a price standpoint.

Clearly, autosomal DNA is better in that regard because you can get DNA test kits for as cheap as $49 from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage DNA, and Living DNA Whereas y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA tests start in the hundreds of dollars and is only available from Family Tree DNA.

With the lower cost of autosomal tests, you can afford to pay for more family members to do genetic testing for family history research.

For a complete explanation of which type of DNA test you should take, watch the full video.


Video: Gedmatch the tool order for beginners


Which Genetic Test Answers More Questions?

I assume that you really want to know which DNA test answers more genealogy questions or your specific genealogy question?


The answer is: whichever one answers the question you have, that's the best DNA test.


.Knowing how genealogy works and having done genealogy and having different genealogy questions, I can say that autosomal DNA probably answers more questions than others since it covers more relatives.

Autosomal DNA covers the whole spectrum from your father's father's father's line all the way to your mother's mother's mother's line. It also shares results for everyone in between for about five to seven generations.

So, there are hundreds of different genealogy questions that you might have in that group of people. Autosomal DNA might be able to help you answer some or most or many of those questions.

On the other hand, y-DNA and mitochondrial DNA are better because they go back farther. But they are for specific lines.

In other words, y-DNA is passed down from father to son to son to son to son. If you have a question on your father's father's father's mother's mother's line, y-DNA is not going to help you at all. But if you have a question that's on your father's father's father's father's father's father's father's line, then y-DNA might be able to help you solve that question.

On the other hand, mitochondria DNA comes from your mother. So, if you have a question on your mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's mother's line, then mitochondrial DNA might be able to help you solve that question.

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Which Test Will Answer Questions With Only DNA?

The other caveat I would apply to the autosomal, y-DNA, and mitochondrial DNA is that you rarely answer the question with just your genetic data.

There will be some other genealogical research that has to happen for very few questions is DNA standalone. But DNA can be a good tool to add to your genealogy toolbox.

Which type of DNA test should you take?

Now, when it comes to what test do I recommend to people take. I recommend people take an autosomal test first because it is the broadest. It's probably going to answer many more questions than what they-DNA or the mitochondrial DNA will answer.

As you do your research and have specific maternal and paternal family tree questions, you may consider getting a y-DNA test or a mitochondrial DNA test.

But one thing to remember with any of these tests is DNA is not going to answer all of your genealogy questions. You're not going to be able to take a test and slap it in a program and magically have a tree appear. That's not how it works at all.


You don't share DNA with all of your relatives. The further distance you are related to them, the fewer those relatives you actually share DNA with. That shouldn't dissuade you from jumping in the water and trying out an autosomal DNA test and seeing what you can do with that in your genealogy research.

To learn more about which DNA test is Best, check out these videos and blog posts.

  • Best Chromosome Browser: 23andMe Vs. MyHeritage

  • Which is Better? AncestryDNA Communities or MyHeritage Genetic Groups

  • Which DNA Test is Best for Finding Close Relatives?

  • Do More Genetic Test Markers Matter?




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