The POTTS DNA Project

A primer on DeoxyriboNucleic Acid and how it can be used in genealogy

Last Revised:  April 21 , 2011


This page will focus primarily on the genealogical aspects of DNA testing, i.e., patrilineal and matrilineal heritage, and leave the examination of the fundamentals of DNA biology to the readers themselves, although I do include below, a brief list of relevant articles. Of course, I welcome any suggestions from site visitors - just click on Feedback below. If you are interested in my PottsInfo site policy on posting individual's DNA profile click here.

General Information

I urge you to examine the several online publications that are listed below. Just click on the appropriate link to go to the article. Note that one of them (#5) is downloadable from this web site.


1. DNA Testing: An Introduction For Non-Scientists. An Illustrated Explanation - by Donald E. Riley, Ph.D. - a complete, but readable, explanation of the testing process and what can discerned, with an emphasis on the need for extreme care in handling DNA samples. link

2. DNA Family Trees. Tracing Your Ancestry Through DNA - by Kimberly Powell - a brief primer on two of the tests available for genealogical testing. link

3. Genealogical DNA Test, from Wikipedia - an excellent reference. link

4. DNA Haplogroups, part of Genebase - Y-DNA STR and Y-DNA SNP tests to determine Haplogroups. link

5. Ancestry Testing Statement by The American Society of Human Genetics - a primer on the uncertainties inherent in the testing techniques, and a call for standards - available at this site in pdf format. download

6. Or, a summary of 5. above: Geneticists sound a note of caution over DNA ancestry Testing - by John Timmer. link

7. I Have the Results of My Genetic Genealogy Test, Now What? by Blaine T. Bettinger, PH.D. - available for download in pdf format at This is an "ebook" link


(All links above were tested and working on October 8, 2009.)

Before you test your DNA: ask yourself, why do I want a DNA test?

Before you decide to have your DNA tested you need to set your goals toward enhancing the traditional genealogical research methods. One might be to identify your most distant ancestor's geographical origin. Another might be to provide genetic markers that can be matched with other researchers to determine if their patrilineal or matrilineal ancestors are closely related, i.e., new family connections. A third might be to confirm that a group of people believed to be patrilineal descendants of a common ancestor actually are.

Then, you need to select a commercial DNA testing laboratory, ideally one that specializes in genealogical testing, and order your test. I am aware of at least nine sites:

plus:, ISFG, DNA Fingerprint, Genebase, Oxford Ancestors, Relative Genetics, and likely more to come. CAUTION: These sites do not all use the same Y-Chromosome Marker Standards. There is a ISSOG Standard (NIST) which most likely will be adopted by all the labs eventually. But until they do adopt NIST you will only be able to match your DNA on the site of the testing lab or another that uses the same standard. A small group of Potts ancestors who have been tested and are members of Potts surname groups (see below) at various websites, led by Glenda Potts Thacker, has created an Excel Spreadsheet of presently accessible Potts DNA test results. Those results, if necessary, will be adjusted to match the NIST standard and will be available for viewing here, or downloading here.

Be sure to check their test offerings carefully so that you get the type of test you want and the degree of result that you want to achieve. Be sure also to compare test prices among sites, and be prepared to wait a while for your results. Be aware that you are not going to receive a conclusive result; DNA test results are predictions based upon comparison of your genetic markers to a population database. The more markers the better the chance of a haplogroup confirmation. Some sites will post your results on other sites like those discussed below.

After you test your DNA: connecting with distant kin.

After you test your DNA and have the results, you'll want to find other people who have similar results. You can do this at sites like and (the former courtesy of FamilyTreeDNA and the latter courtesy of DNAHeritage) where you can enter your results (where you obtained the test results does not matter) and search for genetic matches free. Depending on the site you can search by DNA, surname or haplotype. The article listed under #7 above is an excellent source of information and guidance for this after-test period, and is even recommended by FamilyTreeDNA.

At you can also upload your GEDCOM to provide additional ancestry information. I have joined both sites and have searched both sites. Everything is easy and straight forward. Another site of interest is ISOGG, the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.

Potts Surname Project Groups

There are at least two Potts surname project DNA groups at this writing (10/14/09). One is resident at (8 members so far) administered by James R. Potts, and the other is resident at (about 16 members so far - includes Pott and Spotts) administered by Greg Boyd. They are both Potts researchers that I have communicated with over the years. The latter web site does not accept the former web site's DNA testing results, and you must be tested by the latter to join the surname group(s) of your choice at their site. I have now been tested by both sites but do not yet have the results from the latter (expected about December 12, 2009). Both groups obviously have similar genealogical aims, so it is a pity that they will likely have to work separately toward their largely common goals, although there is bound to be an overlap of members in the two groups.


Cy Potts


Thanks to Blyden Potts for creative suggestions incorporated in this page.

Thanks to Glenda Potts Thacker, Blyden Potts and James R. Potts for the DNA Testing Results.



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