In a Nutshell
- Promises some of the most sophisticated science and methods
- Free shipping (to lab)
- Features more DNA regions than any other testing service
- Smaller database than competitors
- Harder to identify relatives and close genetic matches
- Those curious about their roots
- People who want to know the exact breakdown of their ethnic make up
- Those curious in general about DNA research and would like to take part in the company’s wider data research
Why Go With Living DNA
Living DNA offers what may be the most advanced testing of any genetic genealogy company. The testing goes past the typical autosomal “family DNA” offered by other companies and extends to your maternal DNA (mtDNA) and paternal DNA (Y-DNA), which are typically only offered as separate tests with other companies. The reports are arranged in 3 sections, your family ancestry, maternal line, and paternal line.
The company provides users with an overview of their ethnic heritage going back about 10 generations with a remarkable level of detail. The testing matches ancestry down to 80 specific regions of countries, including 21 just for the UK and Ireland. It also provides an interactive map called “Your Ancestry Through History.” This serves as a sort of timeline showing where your ancestors lived beginning about 1,000 years ago. Moving backward you can trace their migrations over the eons, and learn about the various time periods. By analyzing your paternal DNA, researchers can look back around 180,000 years and estimate the migration routes of your ancient ancestors.
What’s in the Box?
Within a few days of placing the order online—as little as 2 days—the LivingDNA test kit should arrive at your home. It’s a long, white rectangular box with a handful of items needed to submit your sample and ship it off for testing.
- The booklet
Inside the box you’ll find a little booklet that tells you everything you need to know. Inside the booklet is a step-by-step guide—complete with illustrations—that walks you through how to take your test and submit it back to the company.
- Vacuum-sealed test tube with cotton swab
This is the device you use to submit your test. Inside the sealed packaging is a plastic cylinder with a cotton tube inside of it. Use the swab to draw the DNA sample from your cheeks. You’ll need to stick your activation code onto the test tube to make sure the lab can match the specimen to you.
- Specimen bag
This little grey plastic bag will hold the test tube after you’ve collected your DNA sample.
- Prepaid shipping bag
The box comes with a prepaid. first-class mail bag in which you place your specimen bag after you’ve finished the test. All that’s left now is just to drop it off at the local post office.
More Reasons to Choose Living DNA
Living DNA puts a big emphasis on privacy and security when it comes to user results, which are posted online through the company’s website and can only be accessed by the user.
The tests are autosomal, which means they cover the autosomal chromosomes who provide the most detailed information about DNA. Living DNA tests all 23, and through their battery of tests can provide users with intricate, rich results that are unsurpassed in the industry.
The tests are also highly appealing to people who would like to take part in wider DNA research. With the user’s consent, Living DNA will enter individual information into a wider database that can be used to study human DNA, and further the company’s mission of showing that all humans have the same common ancestors. Living DNA is for people who want more details and want to delve into the fine print of where they come from.
How Do I Take the Test?
Your LivingDNA best DNA test kit will come in a box that includes instructions for activating it online. You then use the cotton swab to scrape inside your cheek, and put the swab back into the enclosed bag to ship back to the company. Within 12 weeks the test results will be ready to view online.
Speed of Kit Delivery and Results
Living DNA says to expect the tests to take about 10-12 weeks, and according to user reviews online, this is no exaggeration. During that time the tests are sent to 2 separate labs, and can often get backed up if there are a lot of orders, especially around holiday season, when DNA tests are a popular gift.
The tests can be expensive – as compared to the competition – but the company does have a unique approach to DNA testing and what it means in a wider sense for society.
In the labs, user samples are put through a battery of tests which have no rival in the business. The company tests use maternal and paternal DNA, combining both under one roof, unlike other companies which package them separately.
The “Your Ancestry through History” feature gives a fascinating look at your ancestors’ voyage through history, and places them squarely in the greater context of humanity’s voyage from our origins in Africa to all points beyond. It’s a unique approach, and one that sets Living DNA apart.
How LivingDNA Compares
DNA Collection Kit
The Living DNA kit is straightforward and easy to use. It includes a paid envelope and 2 vials, both of which come with cheek swabs. One of these is the sample and the other is the backup. You swab your cheeks, put the swabs in the vials and put them in the paid envelope and your work is done. It’s just a matter of waiting for the results from this point.
DNA Test Type
- Autosomal (family DNA)
- mtDNA (maternal)
- YDNA (paternal)
Living DNA gives you an overlook of your ethnic heritage going back 10 generations, and then breaks down the specific geographic regions where your ancestors lived. The results are split into 3 sections – family ancestry, mother line, and father line. It goes back even further than 10 generations though to see your deep ancestry, tracing your distant ancestors’ migration from Africa to the modern era.
The tests show users their maternal haplogroup (a haplogroup is a group of related subclades, which are sets of genetic markers) and where it’s most concentrated geographically. The tests will show you the locations and history of your haplogroup over time and how it migrated from Africa.
The tests give male users their patrilineal genealogy and will also show you which populations across the world have the most in common with your autosomal DNA.
You can also take advantage of the interactive map feature where you can trace your ancestors’ migration over time.
Ease of Use
1. Order kit online
2. Once received, activate your kit online through the company website
When you open the kit, you'll see a link and an activation number that you’ll need to use to activate the test and set up an online account so you can get your results when they’re ready. Don’t skip this step.
3. Abstain for 30 minutes or so
You’re going to need to rub a cotton swab on the inside of your cheek for 30 seconds, so LivingDNA suggests abstaining from eating, drinking, or smoking for at least 30 minutes before taking the test. This ensures that you’re submitting just your DNA sample and not that morning’s breakfast.
4. Get to swiping
Take the cotton swab dial, open it and rub the cotton swab on the inside of your cheek for at least 30 seconds, and then place it back in the test tube and close it. Make sure to also put an activation sticker on the test tube, which will include the unique number of your test so the lab will know who to match it with.
5. Seal it up and ship it out
Take the test tube and put it inside the specimen bag and make sure it’s sealed up tight. Then simply place it inside the prepaid pack and ship it back to the company.
6. Watch for updates
Once you’ve sent it off you can start keeping an eye on your account on the LivingDNA website to keep track of the status of the test. Remember, you’ll only be able to see your results if you’ve registered online. This is the stage when the suspense starts to kick in, but it should only be about 8 weeks tops.
In some ways though, that’s when the story just begins, as you look at the makeup of your DNA, and the newly-illuminated story of your family history.
Living DNA hosts an online help center where users can turn to find answers to all types of queries. If the help center doesn’t provide answers, customers can turn to the company by email and by telephone during business hours.
The company says it does the best to reply to emails within a few hours during business hours, and that if outside business hours it should take longer. There is also an online query form that can be filled out to find answers.
Without any discounts, the kit costs $99, which is higher than many competitors, but there are often discounts. For instance, at the moment, the site offers US customers a special price of $99 for a test. You can also order a personalized ancestry book for $79. The standard shipping to receive the test is $9.95, though premium delivery (2-3 working days) is much pricier at $39.95.
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Living DNA provides a unique genetic mapping product that utilizes a highly intricate series of tests and parameters. The insight provided by the tests is more detailed than other companies and really presents a very rich macro and micro look at users’ roots back deep into ancient history.
The interactive map, patrilineal testing, and geographic mapping of results are rare in the industry, and part of what makes Living DNA a solid choice for people trying to learn about where they come from. Not only that, the company is devoted to a mission of showing how we as humans are all connected, and by taking part, perhaps you can take one small step to breaking down the artificial constructs that divide us.
About Living DNA
Living DNA was launched in late 2016 in London, and is run by DNA Worldwide Group, a DNA testing firm which has been in operation since 2004. The company uses over 100 scientists and experts who it says are devoted to the mission of unearthing more and more about humanity’s common bonds.
The company partners with a number of organizations, including Eurofins, the world leader in testing services and Illumina, a top company in the field of genetic research. In addition, the company works with “Show Racism the Red Card,” a group that fights racism. Living DNA said that the partnership confirmed the need to launch Living DNA, in order to “provide a safe space to reduce racist ideas and attitudes.”