Tracing family members through your DNA: Kinship and Genealogy explained

FamilyTree Genealogy

What do we mean by “kinship and genealogy”? Kinship means identifying your ‘next of kin’, or those people you are biologically related to. Not too long ago, DNA was only really able to tell you immediate family relationships, such as parent and child or siblings.

However, technology has improved and next generation sequencing has opened up the capabilities of what DNA can tell us. We can identify more distant relatives with more degrees of certainty through DNA. Genealogy looks at families and their history and pieces all the evidence, including the DNA information, into a big picture.

Let’s say your surname is Parker and your best friends name is also Parker. Could you be related? Do you know if your cousin really is your cousin because he is so different to the rest of the family? Are you curious about the family relations to other families? Or did you find a relative through genealogical research and now want to know if you are biologically related?

Based on different genetic analysis it is possible to prove kinship.

Inheritance Infographic DNA

For kinship analysis you can look at the nuclear chromosomal DNA, the Y-chromosomal DNA in particular and the mitochondrial DNA. Also sometimes the analysis of X-chromosomal DNA can be beneficial.

Kinship Puzzle

As humans we have 22 pairs of “autosomal” chromosomes and one pair of sex chromosomes. One of each pair comes from your father and one of these comes from your mother. Therefore you share 50% of your DNA with your mother and 50% with your father. The sex chromosomes are responsible for your biological gender. If you are a girl you have two X chromosomes (one from your mother and one from your father). If you are a boy you have a X- and a Y-chromosome. The Y-Chromosome can only come from your father as your mother doesn’t have one. Your father got his Y-Chromosome from your grandfather, your grandfather from your grand grandfather and so on. As the Y-Chromosome is generally pretty stable paternal lines (lineages) can be analysed by analysing pieces of the Y-chromosome.

Then there is mitochondrial DNA. It’s the DNA that sits in the mitochondria in your cells. The mitochondria are the little powerhouses of your cell as they produce the energy the cell needs to do its job. As you need a lot of energy every cell has a lot of mitochondria in it (a liver cell can have up to 2000 in one cell). But this DNA is not a mixture of your parents DNA, it only comes from your mother. All the mitochondria in a sperm cell get lost during the insemination as the mitochondria in the sperm cell are located in the tail which doesn’t enter the egg. Therefore female, or maternal, lines can be carried out by analysing mitochondrial DNA.

So, if you want to know if someone is related to you we can look at these different genetic markers in all/both of you. You will need to tell us the possible relationship you want to investigate. This is why you cannot just order a “kit”, you do need to contact us to discuss.

Please send an email at

Tell us everything about what you want to investigate. We will work together with a Genealogist who will use a combination of interviews, historical records, the genetic data generated by us, and other records to gather information about your family and demonstrate kinship and pedigrees of its members.

Read more from the blog