How long is my DNA sample viable for further testing?

At the BIFHSGO (British Isles Family History Society of Greater Ottawa) meeting on Saturday this grandma showed up with DNA test kits for anyone to take home and with answers to common DNA test specific questions. One of the many questions asked has prompted me to post about it. “How long is my DNA sample viable for further testing at FTDNA (Family Tree DNA)?”

The Short Answer

Until they run out of sample to use. “…we will not need to request additional samples. This is only necessary if we have exhausted the samples that you have already provided. If additional samples are needed, we will send a new collection kit to the primary address on the account.The Test Process, FTDNA

The Long Answer

The question was from a Gentleman who had submitted his original DNA sample about ten years ago to FTDNA and it was about upgrading his results to the newest version of the DNA test.

The 10 Year Old DNA Sample

This original sample would have been for a YDNA or mtDNA test. The original test was made with the existing test apparatus at the time, YDNA and mtDNA testing performed by FTDNA does not use chips or chip sets. Bead chips (BeadArray Microarray technology) are used for autosomal and X chromosome testing by AncestryDNA, 23andMe and FamilyTree DNA’s Family Finder.

The original sample can be used to do an auDNa test as well, using the latest and greatest chip set on FTDNA.

As stated above, you could use the original ten year old sample until there was nothing left of the sample to test. When you run out, FTDNA will send you a new test kit to submit a new sample.

Other Testing Companies

This question as it relates to AncestryDNA, was covered by Roberta Estes in May 2016 in her blog, DNA Explained, Ancestry Modifies Their Autosomal DNA Chip. Ancestry does no store your sample after the sample has been used once. She states, “If you retest today, you’ll have to handle both tests separately in your account.  There is currently no way to merge tests, so you’ll have an old one and a new one.  There is no “best of both worlds.”  There is no way to preserve stars or notes or anything you may have done to one account and transfer to a different account.  About the only thing you could do is, in time, to compare to see if you continue to have the same matches on both chips as more people test on the new chip.  and 23andme do not store your sample so to get your test redone using the latest chip set for them you would have to submit a new sample for testing.”

23andme does not keep your sample for further testing.

My Heritage? My Heritage is a repackaging of FamilyTree DNA’s Family Finder test, so this auDNA test sample would be kept on file at FamilyTree DNA, though I don’t know how many hoops you’d have to jump through to get an upgrade via FamilyTree DNA using a sample sent in from My Heritage. This is from an industry insider – still no reply from My Heritage.

Not complaining about the wait. I have also been trying to call FTNDA on and off today to ask another client related kit question and can’t get through. I am sure it’s all the crazy advertising that was done over the holidays slamming all testing company’s phone lines. If you need me, I will be perpetually on hold with the knowledge that more and more people are getting out and testing!

Thanks to Peter Roberts, my good friend and hero (his other title is Associate Professor and Archivist at Georgia State University it really should be something closer to Genetic Genealogy Geek) for input on this blog post.

For more information and an explanation of Chips in Genetics see DNA Chip – Genetic Testing of the Future, Lisa Althoff, 1999.

2 thoughts on “How long is my DNA sample viable for further testing?”

  1. On a related note, my sister’s 90yo mother-in-law finally used the 23andMe test kit that I bought for her 2.5 years ago. Before it was sent in I happened to run across a note on the 23andMe holiday sale page that stated that the kits expire after 1 year. I confirmed this with 23andMe and they sent me a new kit for free. Now we have to hope that she’ll use the second kit.

    1. I love it when we can get our older generations involved in DNA testing. From us it’s can get us two Generations closer to our history. Thanks for the comments!

      Mags

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