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Race and the Genetic RevolutionScience, Myth, and Culture$
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Sheldon Krimsky and Kathleen Sloan

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156974

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156974.001.0001

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Ancestry Testing and DNA

Ancestry Testing and DNA

Uses, Limits, and Caveat Emptor

(p.99) 5 Ancestry Testing and DNA
Race and the Genetic Revolution

Troy Duster

Columbia University Press

This chapter explores the increasing direct consumer use of DNA tests for ancestry tracing as well as its capacities and limits. It also examines the use of Ancestral Informative Markers (AIMs) as a new method in determining ancestry. Fundamentally, DNA testing is capable of tracing a person's biological ancestry. However, in order to determine a person's “real” biological lineage, there needs to be a clear distinction between the direct biological ancestors. Many issues emerge as a result of the limitations in tracing the Y chromosome of a male and the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) of a female. Unlike the traditional method, the use of AIMs seems likely to be more accurate as it examines a group's relative share of genetic markers found on the autosomes—the nongender chromosomes inherited from both parents. Taken together, these markers appear to yield sufficiently distinctive patters in tested populations.

Keywords:   direct consumer use, DNA test, ancestry tracing, ancestral informative markers, biological ancestry, Y chromosome, mitochondrial DNA, genetic markers, autosomes, nongender chromosomes

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