I am trying to research a family line that shares a name, but not sure if anywhere in the distant or near past we share a common ancestor and both sides are interested in doing a Y-DNA test, we just lack a living male.

The last non-adopted male descendants who was interested in genealogy died less than 15 years ago, and their family has several items identified as 'good sources of DNA' according to several sites and they have offered up for potential testing. There is only one male living in the line and they are not interested in participating in the test, nor will they have any sons at this point. I am obviously also not going to attempt to pressure them in participating as DNA testing is a choice.

Several younger descendants of the line have done Autosomal tests but the distance is to great to match to any of the other lines with an implied common origin but no common ancestor yet (name, location, dates match up.. just not to an individual). We would like to conclusively tell if it happens to be a random or there is a distant relationship beyond the range of the Autosomal tests.

So that leaves us with forensic DNA testing. The cost of forensic DNA testing is not cheap (at least 2-10 times a normal Y-str DNA test) and the services I have seen so far only offer low marker counts like Y-17 which is not very conclusive for the cost in terms of genealogy and for conclusive results.

I have scanned over the list of providers on ISOGG's site but not found a provider yet that offer a test to the public at this level in the United States.

I realize from other posts Y-DNA is harder to obtain forensically, especially compared to mtDNA which is more commonly spread through normal human activities as well as most forensic DNA service make 'no guarantee' of being able to obtain it obviously.

Has anyone identified a service that can obtain a Y-37 or greater (even if missing markers for not a complete 67 for example) from personal items or hair?

3 Answers 3


Best of luck with this, but keep in mind that the chances of recovering sufficient Y-DNA from an old hair or toothbrush is very low, and it will be very expensive (whether successful or not).

I think this is a question that can only be answered by asking the lab directly. It is unlikely they "offer" a test on their website that does exactly what you want, but they may be able to tailor a DNA test to the specific STRs you want, if you're willing to pay for it, and if they can recover any DNA.

I would start by giving these companies a call:
DNA Reference Laboratory
DNA Diagnostics Center

It may also be worth giving FamilyTreeDNA a call. Even though they don't offer this type of service themselves, they may be able to advise you of other labs that could potentially do this. I'm sure it's a question they get every now and then.


You'll have to find a commercial lab that will do non-standard DNA tests for you. Most major cities will have them. But it may be somewhat expensive. A university lab may provide better prices.

Hair poses some problems in terms of the DNA you can get. See the DNA and the locks of hair, by the Legal Genealogist. Some of the other personal items you have may be better, depending on what they are. Tell the lab what items you have and ask which would best and what the cost would be for each.

The LG post references an excellent article with Information about Non-Standard Samples for DNA testing, which gives some important things to consider, such as success rates, pricing, legality and how to send the sample, as well as a List of Non-Standard Samples and how good they might be.


The short answer that as of June 23, 2015 the answer specifically to my question of whether "a Forensic DNA test is currently available to obtain a Y-DNA STR test of greater than Y-37" is:

No; as of June 23, 2015 there is currently no Forensic DNA test available in the United States (or elsewhere) to establish the equivalent of a Y-37 or better DNA result for use in genealogy Y-Str matching purposes.

I checked with several DNA testing services listed on the ISOGG's site as well as called other testing services like FamilyTreeDNA and AncestryDNA for reference. ftDNA is the only one who was willing to mention another service, as they only have 'heard' of others attempting to use DNA Diagnostic Center.

DNA Diagnostic Center, even though it is still listed on their website no longer offers their specific Y-DNA test is what I was told.

What I was able to find out is the standard Forensic DNA test for Y-STR is the AmpFLSTR® Yfiler® PCR Amplification Kit and is still used by some providers. This Haplotype tool on Applied Bio Systems site is also specifically built for inputing the results of this test and determining Haplogroup from these results.

The marker's provided by this test are:

DYS456 (Marker 25) , DYS389I (Marker 9), DYS390 (Marker2) , DYS389II (Marker 11) ,DYS458 (Marker 12), DYS19 (Marker 3), DYS385 (Marker 5), DYS393 (Marker 1), DYS391 (Marker 4), DYS439 (Marker 8), DYS635 (Marker 95), DYS392 (Marker 10), YGATAH4 (Marker 22), DYS437 (Marker 17), DYS438 (Marker 30), DYS448 (Marker 18)

(Denotes Equivalent Position in a Y-12/25/37/46/67/111 test)

DNA Reference Library offers their own version of the test, but is only 13-15 markers and focuses on specifically on ethnicity, similar to an Autosomal test but from Y-STR using basically using a similar tool like on Applied Bio Medical's site referenced above.

My observation is a Y-17 marker test has little genealogical value, beyond "generally related somehow in the time period of recorded history". So while better than nothing, it would not be useful for establishing a Y DNA marker for a line that there is no male descendant other than 'general relationship'.

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