FamilyTreeDNA (aka Gene by Gene Ltd; also FTDNA)

The pioneer in the Genetic Genealogy field, Gene by Gene Ltd is operating the retail service as FamilyTreeDNA. Initially focused soley on and creating Y DNA testing, they have expanded both to deeper NGS and Autosomal and Mitochondrial DNA testing. Located in Houston, Texas they operate their own laboratory.

FamilyTreeDNA sells their products a-la-carte whereas most others have simplified, bundled products. The main products are defined here:
  • y12, y25, y37, et al: yDNA STR marker tests. Originally started with y12 over 15 years ago and up to y111 today. The primary method used by surname studies to try and match patrilineal lines and look for unique markers in genealogical time frame family branches.
  • BigY: their newest product is an NGS test of the Y chromosome returning 25,000 to 75,000 SNP values. Used for deep, nearer term Haplogroup determination and to verify STR matches are not a result of converged values.
  • FamilyFinder: FTDNA’s answer to provide Autosomal testing that everyone jumped on earlier. They have the smallest database of testers out of all the companies so moving your results to GEDMatch is almost a requirement.
  • SNP Packs: a greatly expanded product line that can allow deeper yDNA SNP testing without the expense of BigY. Useful when your STR values are matching another suspected patrilineal line relative and you simply need to confirm you are close to their BigY result. And much more cost and result effective then individual SNP value orders.

FamilyTreeDNA maintains two “public” search engines for mtDNA SNP and yDNA STR results; named MitoSearch and ySearch (see links below). Users can upload their test results to compare against others from other companies. To date, the vast majority of uploads are from FamilyTreeDNA so the benefit of comparing off the FamilyTreeDNA match database is minimal. (Note: as of 2017, they are no longer maintaining the sites and many features do not work.)

FamilyTreeDNA pluses:

  • Stores DNA sample for 20+ years; can order tests not yet available in the future after ancestor has passed (oldest, still surviving member of the personal genetic testing field)
  • Chromosome browser to enable segment analysis; download of Chromosome segment data
  • Matches have email address attached and visible to allow direct contact (no additional fee or internal messaging system)
  • Fullest, deepest array of test products (but see negative below)
  • Allows transfer in of Autosomal results from Ancestry, 23andMe, NGG1 and likely others in the future
  • Allows transfer in of yDNA SNP results from NGG1
1 The import from NGG for USA delivered tests is no longer available. See the NGG page for more details.

FamilyTreeDNA minuses:

  • Smallest Autosomal match database of any company (but see plus above)
  • A-la-Carte leads to highest overall price for testing
  • No real support for Autosomal (group) analysis with trees (like with GEDMatch, WikiTree and desktop tools)
  • No real support for multiple kits managed by a single login (pseudo mechanism by creating a (yDNA) project just geared for your test kits and putting all your kits as members in the group; can give group administrator most functions but not all)

FamilyTreeDNA common:

See Also