July 22, 2015

Puerto Rican and Dominicans - Getting Your DNA Tested for Genealogical Purposes

I had to think over who I wanted to write about and drew a blank because there are so many I'd like to write about. Since I'm still working on both my Puerto Rican and Dominican ancestry, I figured I'd talk about the benefits of having your DNA tested. First I recommend an Autosomal DNA test; its an inclusive test that will let you see relatives from both maternal and paternal line.  The test does not advise you if a person is related to you maternally or paternally.  To determine this requires working with the individual and finding the connection.

Currently there are 3 main companies I recommend you chose from; FamilyTreeDNA, 23andMe, and Ancestry. The reason for this is that you can upload your raw DNA data file to a website called GEDMatch which offers you many free tools to analyze your DNA and allows you to find relative connections that have tested with one of these companies.

I personally have tested with two companies so far; 23andMe and Ancestry.  I will speak to FamilyTreeDNA in a moment and what I've done. It is totally up to you which route you take.

One of the main things I need to point out about DNA testing, its NOT going to tell you how you're related to an individual. It provides predictions on relationship levels and that is based upon  the number of centimorgans (cM) and SNP's that match an individual; centimorgans are the distance between chromosome positions.  The number can be off if you're related more than once. This occurs when you are related to an individual on more than one family line. 

I'm not going to get into the discussion of cM because it is very involved. A great place to start in learning about DNA is by visiting The International Society of Genetic Genealogy website (www.isogg.org). This website provides detailed information about DNA testing as well as comparisons between the different companies out there. The website lists other companies available for testing. See their welcome page link below and you'll find the comparison charts on the right side of the page on the different types of tests:


Testing is not too expensive if you go with any of these three. Each has their plus and minuses depending on what it is you seek and your race/ethnicity.  The consensus is that if you're Puerto Rican or Dominican then 23andMe may be your best option. It is also a great website if you suspect African ancestry. There is a large amount of Puerto Rican and Dominicans that are testing with this website and with the matches I've found I've been able to accurately continue to build my Dominican family tree. It has also provided confirmation that what I've documented is accurate based on those that match me.

I've found 23andMe's test to be more accurate in identifying countries of origin since I've done my genealogy tree that goes back many generations; some lines going back to the 1500's on my Puerto Rican side.   However if you're looking to make your dollar stretch, then I recommend Ancestry.  Why is that? Well for one you can compare notes with those who have their family tree built on the website. Another reason is that you can easily download the DNA file and upload it to FamilyTreeDNA, thereby getting a two for one. What is lacking on Ancestry is tools to manipulate your data. They simply supply you with your genetic makeup based on their algorithms.  Here is a sample of what mine looks like on Ancestry:

Ancestry Results

I can assure you that I'm not 35% Italian/Greek. I found that to be laughable; not that I have any issue with being part Italian or Greek because 23andMe found Italian DNA ancestry but at around 1%. Had I not done by genealogy tree and documented my ancestry well I would have been fooled into thinking I'm mostly Italian/Greek. I also know that I have a Syrian great grandfather that migrated in the 1800's, no indication on this screen. 

Now as for 23andMe, I must say the website has some great tools but is lacking in others; however it's a start.  Once you familiarize yourself with the website, you can see which segments of your chromosomes and what regions of the world a person matches with. The person must be sharing their DNA with you to determine this.

Now here is the test results screen that is comparable to Ancestry's website. The difference is that it was much more accurate, provides you with three different view on the map alone. In addition if you had a parent tested, it provides you a split view of your chromosomes. Since my father is deceased I can't have that test done unless I get my brother to test.  I'm also providing the chromosome view that goes with the country percentages to the right of the first screenshot.

23andMe Country of Origin View

23andMe Chromosome View

Hope this provides insight into which test to go with and where to find information on testing. I leave you with my Neanderthal DNA that 23andMe found; another perk! This may explain the need to shave all the time. LOL!!!

Neanderthal DNA


  1. Berryblue...at what %DNA would you take the 23andme ancestry composition as meaning a more recent, traceable ancestor? Among others, I have 6% Italian, 6% Native American, 7% African, 3% Middle Eastern.

  2. For that I recommend you visit their help pages. They have a lot of great resourceful tutorial posts. There are a lot of piece parts mixed into that number. Another great resources is the articles posted for GEDMatch. There are charts available, simply Google them and they should come up.

  3. Thanks for the extremely helpful post. The Syrian connection caught my eye as I have always been told that someone on my fathers side of the family was Syrian but havent been successful in locating this person. Im looking in Rincon, Mayaguez and Aguada, Puerto Rico.
    Some of the surnames are Valera, Rosado, Elias and Vivas. Possibly you can point me in the right direction. In any case I am thrilled to start my DNA investigation. Thank you.

    1. Hi Maria, don't laugh but the answer is right before. The last name Elias is a middle eastern last name. I do not know how far you have looked but you should find it taking you back to Syria or Lebanon as most were coming from Lebanon in the 1800s to escape the Ottoman Empire as they were persecuting Maronite Catholics.

    2. Also Lebanon back in the 1800's was a part of Syria so keep that in mind when researching. If you had your DNA done you should show Middle Eastern cousins on your list.


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