know your dna logo
search iconmenu Icon

Types of DNA Testing

Updated on September 17, 2021
Medically Reviewed by
Dr. Dhingra
Written by
1 sources cited
KnowYourDNA is reader-supported. This means we may receive a commission when you buy something from one of the links on this page.

There are many uses for DNA tests and test results. Testing companies offer personal information about heritage and help you identify relatives, but some types of DNA testing are also used by law enforcement to solve crimes.

What can different types of DNA testing reveal?

Types of DNA Testing for Ancestry

At-home DNA tests kit results provide information about a person’s ethnicity. You do this by submitting a DNA sample to the testing services and allowing the service to evaluate the sample for information about your ethnic makeup. Over the years, these companies built massive databases filled with potential genetic matches, which is how you can identify relatives by using these tests. 

People from all walks of life use these at-home tests to learn more about their heritage and see how their family trees evolved.

Not only are DNA test results used for different reasons, there are also different types of DNA testing for genealogy – different tests for the same reason.

For example:

  • Autosomal DNA Test: Provides an ethnicity estimate and cousin match based on the paternal line or maternal line within about five to six generations. It’s a relatively inexpensive type of test (usually less than $100) and accounts for most of the at-home consumer DNA tests.
  • Y-DNA Test: This test uses DNA from a male to track the Y chromosome passed from fathers to sons over generations. It can provide information further back than six generations for the paternal line and is a good test to take if there are questions about paternity.  
  • mtDNA Test: This test uses male and female DNA but only looks at genetic markers from the maternal line. It reaches further back than the five to six generations of the autosomal test and can provide you with your maternal haplogroup. 

What Type of DNA Test is 23andme?

23andme uses an autosomal DNA testing method that allows you to learn more about your ethnic heritage and identify potential relatives. The testing service compares your sample to other people and evaluates the degree of overlap. To submit your sample, you spit into a tube and mail the sample to the testing company.

What Type of DNA Test is Ancestry?

One of the most popular at-home DNA testing companies,, offers tests in which you spit into a tube. You can take this test for about $60. Ancestry offers one of the largest databases of DNA results, which allows you to find family members and make connections all over the world.

Types of DNA Testing for Paternity

DNA testing is considered the most accurate testing method available for determining paternity. This doesn’t mean conducting an at-home test will give you results admissible in court. But it can help you determine paternity for your peace of mind. For an affordable fee and no need for a doctor’s visit or testing referral, you can get information about a possible paternal match or exclude certain individuals as a paternal match for a child. 

DNA testing for paternity has been in use for decades, and at-home tests make it easier than ever before to get information about the genetic link between a child and his or her father.

Different Types of Forensic DNA Testing 

DNA testing is a powerful forensic tool used by law enforcement to determine a person’s involvement in a crime. The majority of cases that use different types of forensic DNA testing are sexual assaults and homicides because they tend to produce more DNA evidence. 

Forensic DNA testing methods continue to evolve, but despite the advances, they aren’t perfect. Tests can only identify whose DNA is at the scene, but it can’t tell you how it got there. In most cases, crimes are solved using a combination of DNA test results and old-fashioned crime solving.

DNA testing can be used to evaluate a variety of samples at the scene of a crime, including:

  • Blood
  • Bloodstains
  • Saliva or saliva stains
  • Semen or semen stains
  • Swabs from the genital or rectal area
  • Tissue or skin cell samples
  • Fingernails
  • Hair

It is also possible that samples taken from a crime scene can be compared against a sample from an accused criminal’s relative. DNA test tissue samples from an unborn baby or baby who died during birth are also useful in solving some types of crimes. There are evolving legalities to using various DNA combinations and links as evidence. Still, because of the results’ scientific accuracy, we can expect DNA evidence to continue to be an important part of our legal system.

Dr. Dhingra
Dr. Harshi Dhingra
Medical Reviewer
Dr Harshi Dhingra is a licensed medical doctor with a specialization in Pathology. Dr. Dhingra has of over a decade in diagnostic, clinical, research and teaching work, including managing all sections of Pathology laboratory including histopathology, cytology, hematology and clinical Pathology.
Content Contributor
Joel is a writer with a passion for the science of DNA and the power of its manipulation.
back to top