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Searching for mtDNA matches

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  • Searching for mtDNA matches


    I am on FTDNA using an autosomal test that I uploaded from another testing site. A cousin of mine is also on FTDNA. We suspect we are related on his maternal side and my paternal side and we want to look at shared matches to determine our connection. He has little info about his mother's side.

    He suggested we both take the mtDNA test. My question is, if he takes the mtDNA test through FTDNA, will he be able to see our shared matches if I still just have my same autosomal DNA test here? I am female, and I don't think it makes sense for me to take the mtDNA test, since I am 100% sure we are not related on my mother's side.

    I saw something in the help docs, that said you can't view matches across different tests (it was referring to YDNA test). Does this apply to mtDNA test?


  • #2
    This cousin will not be able to see any mtDNA match with you, unless you take an mtDNA test at FTDNA. You are correct in that the different types of tests (Family Finder, Y-DNA, and mtDNA) each have their own separate list of matches, which can only be seen by matches who take the same type of test. Neither Y-DNA nor mtDNA matches can be determined or seen from Family Finder (autosomal) test results at FTDNA. But, you and your cousin will still see each other as matches in your Family Finder matches lists, whether or not either of you takes other types of DNA tests at FTDNA.

    Yes, use the shared matches list to see if it helps to determine your connection with this cousin. Do you have any matches at FTDNA that are known maternal or paternal relatives of yours? If so, does this cousin show as a shared match to any of them? I think for your situation, both you and your cousin should see if your paper research has provided enough information to see how you are related. Are there any shared surnames or locations? Do you have any mysteries on your maternal side, that might possibly be a connection to this cousin?

    If you or this cousin have tested at 23andMe, you could see if you share an mtDNA haplogroup. 23andMe is the one company who will predict mtDNA and Y-DNA haplogroups using autosomal DNA (i.e., they use autosomal DNA for matching and biogeographical origin purposes, but also test specific mtDNA and Y-DNA markers to predict a haplogroup).

    Why does this cousin think an mtDNA test will help, particularly if you are so sure you're not related on your mother's side (and why are you so sure of that)? I don't know why this cousin would suggest that you take an mtDNA test, unless he suspects you have a common direct maternal line ancestor. mtDNA can best be used to prove a theory, such as that two ancestors were sisters, as seen in this video with mtDNA K haplogroup co-administrator William Hurst.​

    If at some point you eventually decide to do mtDNA or Y-DNA testing at FTDNA, you would have to provide them with a DNA sample, since your Family Finder results came from a transfer of a data file from another company, and no transfer of actual DNA occurred. They would send a kit to you if/when you order any new tests.​
    Last edited by KATM; 12 May 2023, 10:39 AM.


    • #3
      If you are going to buy an mtDNA kit, now is a good time, due to Mother's Day sale, although there are several sales per year.

      Save $40 (was $159)

      Or bundle with a Family Finder

      Family Finder + mtFull Sequence
      Save $69​​

      I suppose you should let your cousin buy first

      Or as suggested above, both of you could test at 23andMe, as you will get a lot of useful reports from 23andMe, in addition to the mtDNA.

      If you both test at Ancestry, then you will get phasing that will confirm/refute your maternal vs paternal connections and whether mtDNA is a possibility.
      Last edited by mabrams; 12 May 2023, 01:25 PM.


      • #4
        Thank you both for your comments.

        I have a mysterious 25% Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry from my father's father. I have DNA proof that my mom's side has 0% AJ. I also have DNA proof that my father's mother has 0% AJ. I have a 'surprise genetic event' with zero paper trail.

        The cousin match in question is 100% AJ. He has relatives from his father's side that tested that do not match with me. Hence, that is why we believe our match is on my father's paternal side and my his mother's side. He does not have anyone on his mother's side that has tested and they are not corporative with requests.

        I think it would help if he took the mtDNA test because it would help him narrow down his matches on this mother's side. He has some gaps in his family tree on his mother's side. However, because I am a female, I don't think he and I will show up as a match if we both take the mtDNA test since my test will only result in my mom's side for which I am 100% certain this cousin is not related. Am I thinking about this correctly?

        I have tested on both Ancestry and 23andme. Have uploaded my DNA to GedMatch and FTDNA. He has only tested on FTDNA.


        • #5
          Since you have an mtDNA from 23andMe, there is no immediate need for you take a Full mtDNA. The ball is really in his court. He should take an mtDNA test either at FTDNA or as part of 23andMe.

          "I don't think he and I will show up as a match if we both take the mtDNA "
          mtDNA matching has no effect on Family Finder matching, other than being part of the display. mtDNA matching is a separate database. And most mtDNA matching is genealogically distant.

          If you and your 'cousin' are a matrilineal match, then yes, the mtDNA would match. But you have made a strong case for the match on your paternal paternal side.


          • #6
            Thanks for helping me on this, mabrams!