Which Test Do I Use?

I have a goal to do a DNA comparison test this month.  There are two individuals I want to test so that I can find out if they descend from the same male ancestor – one is black (Person A) and one is white (Person B).  My primary genealogical research leads me to believe there is a strong possibility they both descend from a male white male who lived from 1798-1881.  I want to compare their Y chromosome DNA.   My dilemma is this — which DNA testing service should I use?

Here are the considerations:

a) 23andMe – I have a free 23andMe testing kit I can use for Person A.  I ordered it for him as part of the Roots into the Future Initiative.  I would love to use this b/c the test is free.  For Person B, I would then order another 23andMe test for him and pay for that one ($99).  The benefit of having them both in 23andMe is that I could compare both Y-DNA and autosomal DNA.  I know that 23andMe will tell me if their Y chromosomes are the same or not — is it as good as what I could learn from FamilyTree DNA?

b) FamilyTree DNA — is my other option – they are so well-known for the Y marker tests.  Since I have the kit for Person A already, I could then pay $50 to submit his DNA to FamilyTree DNA.  Then, I would purchase the 37-marker yDNA test for Person B.  The benefit of using FamilyTree DNA is that if  Person A turns out not to be related to Person B, then there would be other surnames in the database that *may* come us as matches.

Which would you use in this situation and why?

Update 11:30pm —  I have my answer! FTDNA it is.  Turns out that 23andMe does not test markers on the Y Chromosome like I thought they did so I’ll be ordering the 37 marker test for both men.  Thanks everyone!


Comments (12)

  1. Steve Handy

    Hello Ms Taneya. I am sure you already know my response LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!


  2. taneya (Post author)

    yep – i can guess! but your option would have me spend more money! LOL

  3. Banai Lynn Feldstein

    My answer is somewhat irrelevant to your situation. I would use FTDNA because more Jews have tested there, thus giving me and my relatives a better chance at finding other matches.

    I don’t know which is better for you based on that kind of criteria, but that’s what I would suggest: whichever service has the better chance of matching to more people besides just the two to each other.

  4. taneya (Post author)

    good thought Banai. I have never used FTDNA before, but from what I REALLY like most of what I have seen in my experiences with 23andMe. In addition to my own test, I’ve had 6 family member tests come back in it, plus another 10 or so outstanding; i’m sure you’ve been reading my posts. I suspect 23andMe gives more matches but more so than that – my interest in finding cousins seems to be better served with them. In this case, it seems that using 23andMe would at least confirm or rule out common descent among these two males, but I want to be sure I’m not arbitrarily excluding FTDNA just because I’ve never used them before. Plus, going with FTDNA means I spend more money than I would with 23andMe and I’m not sure I want to 🙂

  5. Banai Lynn Feldstein

    If you’ve already tested several people with 23andMe and have found other matches, it sounds like that’s the one to go with. Unless your dilemma includes not wanting to use them anymore because of their new pricing structure. I haven’t paid that much attention to it myself, but it doesn’t sound good from the little bit that has trickled down.

  6. Sandra Taliaferro

    Looking beyond your immediate goal, I would go with 23andMe. You get an answer to your question and then the possibility of meeting more cousins than you would with FTDNA.

  7. Valerie Craft

    Since you already have the free Roots into the Future test, I would use that for ‘A’ no matter what. However, you should know a few things about 23andMe and ftDNA.

    First, they use differents version of the Y-Chromosome tree than the other. Neither is wrong, they are just from different updates. I tested two uncles, one at each site and they came back with slightly different results. They were both R1, but after that it was different. I spoke to Elise Friedman, who assured me that all was fine, there were just differences in the way the two companies reported results. 23andMe only tells you the haplogroup but ftDNA tells you the markers that place you in that group. So I would recomend testing with the same companies when possible.

    Also, 23andMe does not have y-dna surname groups or y-dna matches. They concentrate on autosomal matches. It may turn out that these two men share a common male ancestor, but they do not have enough autosomal DNA in common to show up as matches. On the other hand, surnames groups and y-dna tests are one thing that ftDNA is known for. If you are wanting to confirm a male ancestor of direct line males I would say to buy a 37 marker y-DNA test from ftDNA for both men.

    Finally, there is a big to-do going on right now at 23andMe over the changes they have made regarding their subscription plan. If you purchase a test you will have to pay $9 a month for as long as you want access to your results – ex, new cousins, gene comparison charts, etc. In the end you’ll end up paying a *lot* more in subscription costs than you do up front.

  8. taneya (Post author)

    Thanks Valerie. I did indeed learn earlier this afternoon that 23andMe does not do the direct comparison of the y Chromosome so I will have to use FTDNA. Thanks!

  9. mark

    FTDNA would give the best answer but would only prove if the common ancestor came direct from their father’s line. In my case it only tests the Green surname line.

  10. taneya (Post author)

    Hi Mark – yes! and it is exactly the direct male lineages that I’m going to compare. I am definitely going with FTDNA as I learned 23andMe does not offer what I really need. Thanks!

  11. mark

    Of course it won’t prove for sure they came from a certain male, only that they share a male in that line somewhere. You get into the dispute of the Thomas Jefferson – Hennings testing.

  12. taneya (Post author)

    Yes, I know that also. Thank you Mark for your input. I hope this works out like I want it to. I’ll probably go crazy if the lineages don’t match in trying to figure out whom to test next. 🙂

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