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Genetic Genealogy Glossary

admixture: ancestry that originates from more than one ethnic group

allele result: also called a marker value, the numeric value assigned to a genetic marker

autosomal DNA: all your DNA except what’s on the X and Y chromosomes
biogeographical DNA test
An autosomal DNA test (also called an admixture test) that estimates percentages of your DNA associated with various geographic origins. 
confidence range or confidence interval: Your DNA results report will show the most likely ancestry percentages (for a biogeographic test) or date an MRCA lived (for a Y-DNA test). It’ll also provide a confidence range showing other possible results

haplogroup: an identification of the genetic group your ancient ancestors (10,000 to 60,000 years ago) belonged to

haplotype: collectively, the marker values on your Y-DNA test results
HVR (hypervariable region): sections of mtDNA (such as HV1 and HV2) used to determine your haplogroup
mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA): genetic material mothers pass on to their children
MRCA (most recent common ancestor): the most recent ancestor two individuals both descend from

mutation: changes in DNA that can help reveal how long ago an MRCA lived when two people have closely matching marker values
recombination:  the process by which chromosomes cross and switch genetic material at conception
SNP (single nucleotide polymorphism): harmless mutations in autosomal DNA that can indicate where your ancient ancestors came from
STR (short tandem repeat): a type of DNA marker used to determine relationships between individuals
Y-DNA: genetic material fathers pass to their sons

Genetic Genealogy Resources 

Deep Ancestry: Inside The Genographic Project by Spencer Wells (National Geographic)
DNA and Genealogy by Colleen Fitzpatrick (Rice Book Press)
DNA and Tradition: The Genetic Link to the Ancient Hebrews by Yaakov Kleiman (Devora Publishing)
Family History in the Genes: Trace Your DNA and Grow Your Family Tree by Chris Pomery (The [UK] National Archives)
The Family Tree Guide to DNA Testing and Genetic Genealogy by Blaine T. Bettinger (Family Tree Books)
The Seven Daughters of Eve by Bryan Sykes (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Saxons, Vikings, and Celts: The Genetic Roots of Britain and Ireland by Bryan Sykes (W.W. Norton & Co.)
Trace Your Roots With DNA byMegan Smolenyak Smolenyak and Ann Turner (Rodale) 
 A version of this article originally appeared in the December 2009 Family Tree Magazine
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