A family history website is offering the ultimate in social networking – the chance to track down unknown relatives using DNA tests.
Ancestry.co.uk today launched a new DNA testing service that promises to help people identify living genetic cousins and learn about their distant ancestors’ ethnic roots.
The results will be stored anonymously on a database and future matches will be flagged up automatically.
The website plans to allow users to create “DNA groups” – for example, for people with the surname Blair to use their genetic test results to find out if they are related.
Ancestry’s chief family historian, Megan Smolenyak, said: ‘DNA testing in family history is reaching a critical mass.
‘As more people add their results, Ancestry’s DNA database will become a powerful asset for users to make connections and discover their family tree.’
Ancestry – which claims 15 million registered users worldwide – is offering three different DNA tests.
A paternal lineage test, analysing the Y-chromosome DNA which is passed virtually unchanged between father and son, costs £74.
This test, which is not available to women because they do not have a Y-chromosome, can confirm a shared ancestor in past generations and predict ancient origins.
For £99 site users can get a more comprehensive version of the same test, and for £89 they can undergo a maternal lineage test looking at the mitochondrial DNA passed from mother to child.
Ancestry.co.uk managing director Simon Harper said DNA testing would only reveal if people were related, not how, leaving genealogists the “exciting challenge” of discovering the exact connection.
He said: ‘Given the sheer size of Ancestry’s online family history community, the potential of DNA to help our users discover new relatives and learn more about their family’s history is enormous.’
The DNA testing service is available at www.dnaancestry.co.uk
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