DNA Kits provide insight into Genetic Ancestry
DNA Kits Provide Insight
into Genetic Ancestry
With advances in DNA technology, researchers are learning more about the
origins and diversity of humans, allowing companies to offer DNA test kits
and analysis for people who want to learn more about their ancestry.
"Journey of Man"
[DNA Testing] got a big boost ... when
[it was] .... included in a PBS series
called "African American Lives."
It featured nine prominent people
being tested to see where
their ancestors came from.
Some people, like series host Henry
Louis Gates, Jr., were surprised ....
Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr. -- Professor
of the Humanities, Harvard University.
The bar chart shows 50-percent
European and 50-percent African.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR., Host:
Does that mean I'm half-White?
Yes, yes, you could say that.
HENRY LOUIS GATES, JR.:
Fifty percent European?
I never expected that.
[Geneticist, Rick Kittles notes] that you don't
need to be a rich celebrity to get the test.
He says advances in technology now
make DNA testing affordable for anyone.
Science when the paper trail ends
His company has sold
more than 6,000 test kits.
Each costs $349.
The kits contain two swabs that
people use to scrape skin cells
from inside their cheeks.
The swabs are mailed to a laboratory,
which extracts and decodes the DNA.
DNA is the double-helix of molecules
inside cells that carry every animal's
genetic information and determines
individual hereditary characteristics.
Kittles then compares each sample to a
huge database of other DNA samples
he has collected over the years ...
If a match is found, customers
get a certificate back in the mail
saying they are related to groups
of people in specific places ...
The DNA tests aren't just
Some two dozen companies are
now selling DNA tests they say
can trace anyone's ancestry back
to many regions of the world.
There are two main DNA tests.
One examines mitochondrial
DNA, which is handed down
from mother to child.
[The] same is true for
the other commonly used
test, which tracks paternal
lineage using the y-chromosome.
Only men have y-chromosomes
Finding one's origins
... DNA testing for ancestry may
become a little more reliable as
more and more parts of the world
are tested and databases get larger.
Expanding the global database is
geneticist Spencer Wells' mission.
Wells heads the National Geographic
Society's "Genographic Project."
The project kicked off with a PBS
documentary called "The Journey of Man."
Wells trekked around the world, tracing the
early migrations of humans out of Africa ...
into Australia, the Middle East, Asia,
Europe, and finally into the Americas.
He now heads a team of scientists who
are continuing the five-year, $50 million
effort to collect 100,000 DNA samples
to further refine mankind's history.