A lot of websites restrict their list to a comparison between the big four: 23andme, Ancestry DNA, Family Tree DNA (FT DNA), Geno 2.0 (National Geographic). We have expanded our list to include more companies who are doing equally good work offering reports on not just ancestry but other aspects of your lifestyle like fitness, nutrition, health, allergies and many more
Types of DNA Tests
DNA based reports can be broadly classified as being obtained from clinical genetic tests and consumer genetic tests.
Clinical DNA tests
These tests are done clinical genetic conditions and are FDA regulated. These tests form the second line of diagnosis for diseases like cancer. It may be done for 2 major reasons. Firstly, you have been screened by various preliminary tests and the results point to a suspected genetic condition like cancer, Alzheimer's or other degenerative or chronic/acute conditions. A genetic test will confirm the mutation you harbor so that the appropriate targeted treatment can begin. For example, HER2/neu gene mutation is associated with a particularly aggressive form of breast cancer. However, when detected early using tests like Fluorescent in situ Hybridization (FISH) or real-time PCR, patients who test positive for the mutation actually have a good prognosis. They can be started on the monoclonal antibody drug called Trastuzumab or Herceptin. The second reason stems from pedigree analysis. When you have a family history of particular conditions like cancer and Alzheimer's it is best to get screened for those mutations and start early treatment if necessary. Clinical DNA tests many a time require samples from specific regions of your body like blood, bone marrow aspirates, tissue biopsies etc.
Consumer DNA tests
Consumer DNA tests are basically for anyone who wants to know more about themselves. These reports are not FDA regulated. There are a variety of reports to chose, ranging from ancestry to nutrition and fitness reports. Such tests are now popular due to the option of home DNA test kit that enables the customer to collect their own sample in the comfort of their home. Mostly saliva samples suffice and the samples do not have to be tissue/organ specific. Some of the popular home DNA test kit are discussed below.
Three Types Of Ancestry DNA Testing
Autosomal DNA Testing
Autosomal DNA is that DNA that does not contribute to gender; in other words, the first 22 pairs of chromosomes. It does not rely on the 23rd chromosome, hence these tests are applicable for all sexes. When it comes to ancestry testing, autosomal DNA test is routinely employed. The results are indicated as percentages of your genetic match with various ethnicities listed in a reference database.
Y Chromosome Testing
Y chromosome is found in males. Y chromosome is exclusively passed on from father to son and so on without intermixing with genetic material from mother. Hence, Y chromosome testing is used to trace the paternal lineage in men. All the way back to the Y chromosome “Adam” who is considered the closest male ancestor.
Mitochondrial DNA Testing
The mitochondria is another organelle in the cell of body that contains the genetic material. The mitochondrial DNA is transferred from generation to generation through the mother. During the process where the egg and the sperm unite, only the head of the sperm penetrates the egg. The mitochondria that are found in the sperms is left out. Consequently, we get the mitochondrial DNA only from our mothers. Mitochondrial DNA testing is used to locate your living relatives even if they are the most distant of your cousins.
Home DNA Test Kit for Ancestry Reports
Family Tree DNA
Family Tree DNA was established in 2000. A veteran in the genealogy reports business, they have the longest history of offering genetic genealogy information to consumers and professionals alike. They are currently the leading choice among professional genealogists when it comes to getting genealogy information. They are the official testing partner for the Genographic Project of National Geographic. They offer all three kinds of genealogy tests, namely, the autosomal DNA test, Y chromosome report for tracing your paternal lineage and mitochondrial DNA based report for tracing your maternal lineage. In comparison to companies like 23andme and Ancestry DNA, they have a smaller database. They do not offer any other kinds of wellness reports.
By far the most popular company providing genetic genealogy based information, Ancestry DNA has a database of over six million reference sets of DNA results for comparison. Owing to their vast customer base they have also amassed a strong genealogical community. They offer the service of connecting people according to their DNA matches through anonymous email and message system. You can link your DNA results to your online family tree. They store your genetic data indefinitely. Ancestry DNA used to offer analysis of mitochondrial DNA and the Y chromosome lineage separately. However, they no longer offer that service. Members of the ancestry DNA genealogy community have the option of opting out of sharing their DNA results. This may not sound too good for those of you who are eager to find your family or learn about additions to them. Ancestry DNA does not allow raw data uploads from other websites. Requires an ongoing subscription to the site to use their online family tree functionality. Does not allow raw data uploads from other sites
23andMe is another popular ancestry genetic report service provider. In addition to this, they also offer health and wellness reports. They have a large database of more than one million reference datasets predominantly from customers in Western countries. Due to this, their references to other populations like the East Asian populations are not detailed. They even mention this in their reports and discourage such customers from buying their kit. They have an online chromosome browser for comparing results. Compared to the other websites like Ancestry DNA they have a limited genealogical community and thereby limited ability to contact matches. They do not allow upload of raw data from other sites. They also offer health and wellness reports, unlike the other major companies. However, this is not part of the basic fee and will need to be purchased separately.
Living DNA ancestry genetic reports are known for their detailed breakup of the regions into many more groups than any other company in the world. For example, they have about 21 regional categories for Britain and Ireland alone and about 80 around the world. They do not have any separate autosomal DNA test, so theirs is the highest overall price (Disclaimer: Companies tend to change their pricing. Please visit their website for the most recent price). They do not have any database or any other way to find or contact matches.
National Geographic’s Genographic project known as Genos 2.0 has been doing rounds for quite some time. They have partnered with Family Tree DNA. They provide autosomal, Y chromosome and mitochondrial DNA tests. Their pricing is affordable, but only if you are willing to be a participant in their global research effort. Their paternal lineage test is limited. They do not offer a stand-alone autosomal DNA-only ancestry report. They do not provide you with features to find your matches among their genealogical community. They do not accept raw data uploads from other companies. They provide only home DNA test kit.
DNA Test for Nutrition and Fitness reports
Xcode Life generates reports using DNA raw data files from all the ancestry test providers listed above and several more. Check out the complete list here. Xcode covers more than 50 traits between Nutrition and Fitness alone. Personalized reports on Health, Skin, Allergies and Precision Medicine are generated both from DNA raw data and from saliva samples. More than 500 genetic variants are analyzed for the diet and fitness modules. A quick TAT of <24 hours for reports from the raw data. The expert-curated topical reports are based on publicly available literature from a range of resources like SNPedia, UK Biobank, Clinvar, OMIM, and leading scientific journals to name a few.
Is is a UK-based personalized fitness genetics company. They provide DNA test kits and accept raw data only from 23andMe. They also accept buccal swab samples. Offer more than 20 traits for nutrition and fitness measuring more than 45 genetic markers. Reports from DNAFit aim at giving insights on both nutrition and fitness. The reports are structured and easy to understand. They have a general turn around time of 2 weeks. They do not allow you to download your raw data. They have a non-disclosure of data policy that protects customers against third-party agents. It has recently been acquired by Prenatics
Does not accept raw data from other companies. Focus mostly on fitness around 10-12 fitness traits. They measure around 40 genetic markers. Have a 2 week turnaround time. Cannot download your raw DNA data. Have a non-disclosure of data policy.
Raw data 23andme and Ancestry DNA is accepted. They cover around 30 traits of nutrition and fitness. Have a 6 week turnaround time. However, their recommendations are designed for people who are professional athletes. The report might be an overkill for an average individual looking to stay fit and healthy.
A popular genomics company, which provides reports from their own saliva test. They do not accept raw data from any other company. More than 30 traits are covered for nutrition and fitness. Measure more than 50 genetic variants. Focus on nutrition, fitness, and skin. Have a 2 week turnaround time
As you may have gathered by now, there is no “best” company. Every company has its place depending upon your needs and requirements. Do consider these factors before making your decision. And most importantly it is very important to define for yourself as to what you want out of these tests. Once you have these figured you can make the best use of the DNA information in your life using the home DNA test kit.