There are three types of DNA tests that can be analysed to determine your family origins. DNA testing companies may use a combination of the three.
Y-chromosome testing (males only)
Males always inherit their Y-chromosome from their father. Therefore, DNA testing companies are able to track your paternal lineage by specifically analysing your Y-chromosome.
Mitochondrial DNA testing (mtDNA)
Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) is DNA that is separate from your normal cells’ DNA sequence. As mtDNA from sperm is not transferred to the woman’s egg during fertilisation, all individuals inherit only their mother’s mitochondrial DNA. Therefore, this type of DNA testing can track your maternal lineage. There have been cases of inheriting mtDNA from fathers, but it is extremely rare.
Autosomal DNA testing
This type of testing looks at all of an individual’s DNA, which can be used to track both maternal and paternal lineages. This type of testing provides information about your overall ethnic background.