Select Page

New survey focuses on core DNA testing

Just a few weeks ago, genealogists were a tad concerned by the first survey sent out by the new management team at Family Tree DNA.

That survey — the first sent to customers after the company announced in January that it had merged with an Australian company, myDNA — focused on potential new offerings that were all in the health and wellness category, and left folks like The Legal Genealogist wondering just how important the genealogical elements of DNA testing would be.1

Not to worry.

The winds of change are blowing, but genealogy is very much in the center of what’s swirling these days.

more winds blowing

First off, another survey is out, targeted to FTDNA’s core group of volunteer project administrators, that focuses on the company’s core genealogical DNA tests and looking to see what should be the priority items for attention. The questions ask the project leaders to rank a wide variety of areas in which they are extremely interested, very interested, somewhat interested, not so interested and not at all interested. Those areas are:

• Ancient Origins (for Family Finder tests): Find distant genetic connections among thousands of ancient samples from around the world, including Neanderthals and Denisovans.

• Family Finder Haplogroups (for Family Finder tests): Intermediate level Y-DNA and mtDNA haplogroups for Family Finder customers to help discover shared lineages.

• X-Relative Matches (for Family Finder tests): Make discoveries based on the unique inheritance pattern of the X chromosome with X-Only Matches.

• Match Clustering (for Family Finder tests): Clustering tools that help you visualize your matches and identify groups of interrelated matches.

• Chromosome Painting Report (for Family Finder tests): Paint your Family Finder myOrigins results onto your chromosomes and find which segments you inherited from which populations.

• Reconstructed Missing Parent (for Family Finder tests): Reconstruct the DNA of your one missing parent, when you have tested yourself and the other parent.

• Segment Triangulation (for Family Finder tests): Find triangulated shared segments between you and your matches suggesting inheritance from a common ancestor.

• Big Y Matching & Reporting (for Big Y tests): Improvements to the Big Y matching algorithm and reports.

• Big Y Age Estimates for Y-DNA Haplotree (for Big Y tests): Time estimates for when your haplogroup was formed and when your shared paternal ancestors lived, based on high-resolution Big Y results.

• Million Mito Tree (for mtDNA tests): Expand the Tree of Womankind based on the largest database of full mitochondrial sequences in the world.

• Ancient Haplogroup Matches (for Y-DNA and mtDNA tests): Discover archeological samples that are closest to your patrilineal and matrilineal relatives.

• Geographical Mapping Tools (for any test type): Visualize the ancestral locations from the family trees of your Y-DNA, mtDNA, and Family Finder matches to discover geographical trends and connections.

• Family Tree Matching (for any test type): Find genealogical connections with your matches by automatically comparing your family trees to find common ancestors.

• Family Tree Improvements (for any test type): Usability and functionality updates to the Family Tree.

The survey also asked if there were other improvements or additional features that weren’t included on the survey but should be given priority.2

Moreover, FTDNA’s new chief executive officer Dr. Lior Rauchberger said in an interview that improving the functionality of the website in general and the genealogical utility of the core DNA tests at FTDNA was already the key priority of the new team and had been since Day 1.

This is all good news indeed.

The success and survival of Family Tree DNA is critical to the growth of genealogical use of DNA testing since it’s the only major genealogical testing company that tests YDNA — the kind of DNA that only men have and that’s passed down from father to son to grandson and so on with few changes from generation to generation3 — and mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, the kind that is passed from a mother to all of her children, but only her daughters can pass on.4 These two tests are extremely powerful tools in tracing the direct paternal line and direct maternal line.

Seeing so many survey questions focused on these tests is a Very Good Thing — and seeing the potential for more and better tools for autosomal tests (those tests that help us find cousins in all our ancestral lines in recent generations5) is just icing on the cake.

Sure, we may see new offerings down the road in health and wellness.

But focusing on and building out from its genealogical roots is sure what I want to see at Family Tree DNA.

Cite/link to this post: Judy G. Russell, “FTDNA showing its roots,” The Legal Genealogist ( : posted 16 May 2021).


  1. See Judy G. Russell, “Survey says…,” The Legal Genealogist, posted 11 Apr ( : accessed 16 May 2021).
  2. Email, 4 May 2021, FTDNA to Project Administrators.
  3. ISOGG Wiki (, “Y chromosome DNA tests,” rev. 30 Oct 2020.
  4. Ibid., “Mitochondrial DNA tests,” rev. 13 Feb 2021.
  5. Ibid., “Autosomal DNA,” rev. 21 Oct 2020.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email