Everybody has heard about using DNA for crime fighting, missing persons, and discovering or curing diseases. We see it on television and read about it in newspapers and magazines. But for many, using DNA for genealogy is a new concept, since it has only become popular in the last few years. Because of this unfamiliarity, and the overexposure of using DNA for everything else - there is much confusion. Unfortunately, most of the attention is negative.
So, to help eliminate some of the confusion, this "DNA Testing Concerns" page was created. Below is a list of questions, with responses, addressing many of the concerns potential participants may have before they decide to donate their DNA. If you need more information - please contact: info @ DavenportDNA.com
|I can't stand the sight of blood. Do I have to get stuck with a needle? Will it hurt?
|No, it will not hurt. No needles, no blood. All it involves is scrapping the inside of your cheek with a "mini toothbrush". You don't even need to scrape hard.
|I'm a Davenport, but I'm female. How can I test my line?
|No problem. The DNA we test is on the Y-chromosome, which females don't have. Just find a male Davenport relative to act as a "proxy" for you. Someone to represent you and your branch. If you were "born" a Davenport, then your brothers, father, his brothers or their sons would due. If none of these are accessible, then go back one generation - the male descendents of your grandfather's bothers, and so on. About half our participants were recruited by their female relatives.
|Can someone track me down by my DNA test results?
|No, not unless you want them to. The DNA we test - Y-DNA or optionally mtDNA - came from your parents. If you're a male, in the case of Y-DNA, it came from your father. His Y-DNA is the same as yours, along with your brothers, Davenport uncles, their sons and grandsons. In fact, if you went back to your Davenport ancestor 10 generations ago - all his male Davenport descendents living today should have the same Y-DNA. There could be thousands of individuals out there with the same Y-DNA as you. That's why we use it for genealogy - to match your Davenport relatives. There is even less of a chance someone could zoom in on you with mtDNA test results. Unlike Y-DNA, everyone has mtDNA, which is passed down from the mother. This greatly increases the search pool. Your mtDNA is the same as your mother, her mother, your brothers and sisters, your sisters kids, your mother's siblings and her sister's kids. And of course the children of your direct maternal line and so on. Since mtDNA mutates much more slowly than Y-DNA, any matches may only mean a connection within the last several hundred years. In other words, you need more than Y-DNA or mtDNA to pinpoint an individual.
|Can the police or government use the results to connect me to a crime or against me somehow?
|No. The biggest problem they would have is "chain of custody". Even if the results have your name on it, no one except you, and possibly an interested observer or two, really knows who the DNA belongs too. Law enforcement needs to be able to account for every step along the way, from swabbing the check to publishing the results. Sure, it would be foolish to pay for a test and then send "dummy DNA", but they still need to see that trail. Besides, as in the previous question, you can't pinpoint a guy by his Y-DNA. It wouldn't do them any good. The DNA used in crime fighting is "autosomal" DNA - the kind you get approximately half from each of your parents.
|Do the results show medical conditions? Can my insurance company use the results to raise my rates?
It would be far cheaper and easier for your insurance company to request a DNA sample from you or test a blood sample, than try to battle the testing company lawyers who are trying to protect your confidentiality. It's just not worth the effort for them. If they really wanted a DNA sample without your knowledge, all they would need is a glass you drank from, chewed gum, cigarette butt, licked envelope, or any number of objects you came in contact with.
Even if the insurance company saw your results, it wouldn't tell them much. There are no known medical conditions associated with small portion of mtDNA and Y-DNA that we test for. There are conditions passed down male or female lines, but they are not connected to Y-DNA or mtDNA.
|What happens if I don't match other Davenports? Does that mean I'm not one?
|If you were a Davenport before testing, you are still a Davenport after testing. Since the Davenport DNA Project began back in January 2003, we have discovered about 15 distinct lines. About ten percent of our participants don't match those lines. But, many eventually do go on to find matches as our database continues to grow. There is also the possibility of a "paternity event". Somewhere up the line, the biological father was not who we thought him to be. As a result, the Y-DNA that was passed down through the generations, is not what we would expect. Click here for more information: Paternity Events
|I have three sons. Should I test all of them? Would it give me more information?
Typically, there is no need to test more than one member of the family. If all the sons had the same father, then their Y-DNA should be the same. In fact, the DNA donor can represent your immediate Davenport branch. If you have a choice - grandfather, father, brother, or son - then the best choice would be the grandfather. The oldest generation, the better. Since mutations occur randomly, in any generation, then the grandfather would have fewer mutation opportunities. i.e. - The son has the extra grandfather to father, father to brother, and brother to son passage of DNA where there could be a mutation.
However, there are occasions when testing other family members might be encouraged. If one of the markers had a very unusual value or the results were not at all what was expected, then we may need to verify the results. We've had one participant with a "null" on one of his markers. There was no value - the marker simply wasn't there, even after FTDNA rechecked it several times. So we tested his uncle and a distant cousin, and all had the same null result. For this family, a null is normal, and will be a great help in future matches.
|What about the bad reviews we hear in the press or from the "genetic experts"?
The DNA we test is Y-DNA. It is by far the most popular type of DNA tested and the most productive for genealogical research. There is no question it works, and that is the reason why there are more a quarter million participants, in over 6,500 surname projects, that have tested their Y-DNA. However, for a reporter, it's not as flashy or newsworthy as writing about what African tribe a celebrity may descend from or comparing results from different companies, finding differences, and concluding the whole field is unreliable. They don't do their research. What they report on is the lesser used autosomal DNA testing - the type of DNA you get from each of your parents. Based on the values on certain SNP markers, it is possible to determine, very broadly, the regions in the the world your distant ancestors may be from. It is very controversial, and different companies use different formulas, and give different results. This type of testing is becoming more acturate by the year, but today the comparison databases are just not large enough yet.
The opinions that the "genetic experts" invariably offer cover autosomal DNA testing, which again is not what we do. Their expertise is usually in medical genetics and they have little knowledge of how DNA testing is actually used in genealogy. Many of the top population geneticists in the world are involved in Y-DNA and mtDNA studies just like us but on a larger scale. We're in good company
|What happens to my DNA after my results come in? Will it be destroyed ?
|FTDNA stores DNA samples for 25 years. There are a couple reasons for this. Technology changes. What is top of the line today can be old news in two years, just like in the computer industry. First there was 12 Y-DNA markers that were tested, that has gone up to 25, then 37, then 67, and currently 111. There are also dozens of other "advanced" Y-DNA markers that can be tested. Each level of testing has the potential of giving us more genealogical information. With a test sample already stored at FTDNA, it makes it much easier to upgrade at some future date.
|What about the Davenport DNA Project? What is it doing to protect my privacy?
The reason Y-DNA testing works so well for genealogy is because information is shared. The results we get are just a bunch of numbers which are pretty much useless on their own. It is only when we compare them to others that we can determine whether two people are related or not.
In the Davenport Surname DNA Project, we try to make available enough information to be of interest to others, but not give away too much personal detail. Yes, we do use the participant's name and general area of residence, (state or country), but that's not nearly enough information to pinpoint an individual. The brief genealogy in the Participant's section doesn't include any living individuals, with the most recent generation typically being a deceased grandfather. There are a few exceptions where the participant specially asked to include certain names. The DNA project also provides "forwarding" emails to all participants based on their kit number - ie - 12345 @ DavenportDNA.com Researchers who want to contact an individual sends an email to the appropriate forwarding account and it automatically is forwarded to the participant. His actual email address is not exposed.