Question: What methods of DNA tests are available?

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Question: What methods of DNA tests are available?

A number of excellent articles are available on this topic

DNA issues can be complex for the non-specialist (especially those who were in high school more than twenty years ago, before much of the modern understanding of DNA was available). A number of excellent articles are available on this topic.

For those interested in general introductions to DNA science:

  • This article provides a basic overview by an LDS bishop who is also a world expert on the use of genetic testing. It is quite short, simple, and straight-forward: John M. Butler, "Addressing Questions surrounding the Book of Mormon and DNA Research," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 101–108. off-site wiki
  • This article provides more detail, but is still accessible to the non-specialist: David A. McClellan, "Detecting Lehi's Genetic Signature: Possible, Probable, or Not?," FARMS Review 15/2 (2003): 35–90. off-site

These articles discuss the feasibility of testing various hypotheses using the Book of Mormon and DNA:

  • Michael F. Whiting, "DNA and the Book of Mormon: A Phylogenetic Perspective," Journal of Book of Mormon Studies 12/1 (2003): 24–35. off-site wiki  (Key source)

Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA)is passed only from mothers to their children

Mitochondrial DNA is passed only from mothers to their children. It has been used in attacks on the Book of Mormon, and yet even known Jewish populations do not share mtDNA.

A new study now shows that the women in nine Jewish communities from Georgia . . . to Morocco have vastly different genetic histories from the men. . . . The women's identities, however, are a mystery, because . . . their genetic signatures are not related to one another or to those of present-day Middle Eastern populations. [1]

So, known Jewish groups cannot be linked at all by mtDNA studies, and yet the critics would have us believe that two of the lost tribes (Ephraim and Manasseh—from whom we have no 'control' or 'reference' samples to compare to) can be ruled out as ancestors of the Amerindians via mtDNA testing?

Y-chromosomes are only spread from father to son

Y-chromosomes are only spread from father to son; the female line does not carry them at all. These markers have also been used by critics to "prove" that the Amerindians cannot be descended from Lehi.

Despite claims that Y-chromosome data do not support Book of Mormon claims, there are some markers which should be considered in another light:

Douglas Forbes points out that Y-chromosome SNP biallelic marker Q-P36 (also known by the mutation marker M-242), postulated by geneticist Doron Behar and colleagues to be a founding lineage among Ashkenazi Jewish populations, is also found in Iranian and Iraqi Jews and is a founding lineage group present in 31 percent of self-identified Native Americans in the U.S. [2]


  1. Nicholas Wade, "In DNA, New Clues to Jewish Roots," New York Times (14 May 2002): F1 (col. 1); cited by Stewart, "DNA and the Book of Mormon."
  2. See "Y-Chromosome Data," in David G. Stewart, Jr., "DNA and the Book of Mormon," FARMS Review 18/1 (2006): 109–138. off-site wiki FairMormon link (Citations omitted)