By  Gary Patrone

Question: I know through family discussions, that my ancestors came from Europe. With the buzz about ancestry DNA testing, I’m wondering if testing myself would tell me anything new about my heritage.

Answer: Family discussions about ancestry are comforting but essentially folklore passed down through generations. Information can be left out for sensitive reasons or simply forgotten over time. Ancestral DNA testing may hold information to help make new discoveries about your family’s past, your cultural roots, as well as confirm information in your family history.

There have been advances in DNA science in recent years. Autosomal testing technology is the latest in genetic testing methods. It maps ethnicity going back multiple generations and can provide insight into which region of Europe your ancestors are from or if you carry rare genes from King Tut, Cochise, Helen of Troy or others.

Autosomal testing is comprehensive and differs from others by surveying a person’s entire genome (all 23 pairs of chromosomes) following both paternal and maternal lines, as opposed to following only the Y chromosome (paternal) or mitochondrial DNA (maternal). You can test to find someone carrying your own, or different surname (used for only 700 years), to prove a link pre-dating historical records, and going well beyond folklore.

Ethnic groups can also be defined by time and place—not just location. For example, if you have German or British ancestors, it’s possible to find Scandinavian ancestry as well.

Ancestry testing can also determine if you are even partly Native American, which includes tribes that are indigenous to North America. The results, however, do not provide a specific tribal affiliation.

Byline: Reach Gary Patrone, CEO of ARCpoint Labs of Tempe, at Tempe@ARCpointLabs.com. Follow him on Twitter  @ARCpointAZ