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Autosomal DNA and its Applications: Part 1, Autosomal DNA 101

Autosomal DNA and its Applications: Part 1, Autosomal DNA 101
autosomal

This tutorial is Part 1 of a 3 part series
Part 1, Autosomal DNA 101  <<== You are here
Part 2, Inheritance pattern of Autosomal DNA
Part 3, Applications of Autosomal DNA


What is Autosomal DNA?

Autosomal DNA is the DNA which makes up Autosomal Chromosomes.  



Where are Autosomal Chromosomes found?

Autosomal Chromosomes are found in the nucleus of most of the cells in our body.  





Autosomal DNA come in pairs

Most of the cells in our body (somatic cells) contain 23 pairs of chromosomes consisting of 22 pairs of Autosomal chromosomes and 1 pair of sex chromosomes (the X and Y chromosomes).  One copy is of each pair inherited from our biological mother, and the other copy is from our biological father.




How is this different from Y-DNA and mtDNA?

There are several notable differences between Autosomal DNA versus Y-DNA and mtDNA:
 

  • Y-DNA is found only in males whereas Autosomal DNA is found in both males and females.
  • Males have only one single copy of Y-DNA which is inherited from the father, whereas males and females carry 2 different copies of Autosomal DNA, one from the mother and one from the father.
  • Each individual carries only one type of mtDNA that is inherited from the mother, but carries two copies of each Autosomal DNA, one from each parent.


Our gametes have only one copy of Autosomal DNA

We have two types of cells in our body:  somatic cells and gametes.  Examples of somatic cells include muscle cells, nerve cells (neurons), blood cells, skin cells, etc.  Somatic cells make up the majority of cells in our body.  Gametes are cells involved in sexual reproduction.  The gametes found in females are called "eggs", and the gametes found in males are called "sperm".  

Whereas all somatic cells carry two copies of each chromosome (one from our mother and one from our father), our gametes only contain one copy of each chromosome.





Next, in Part 2 of this tutorial, we will discuss how the Autosomal Chromosomes in our gametes come together to form a unique DNA profile for each individual.

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