MyHeritage, the genealogy social networking site, is making affordable "cheek scraper" DNA test kits available to its 27 million plus registered users.
MyHeritage has partnered with FamilyTreeDNA to offer the cheap DNA tests, which it claims will help to identify living relatives with common ancestors.
MyHeritage is used to track family trees and research missing or unknown relatives.
Cheek scraper kit
The DNA kit is described as follows on the FamilyTreeDNA website: "The Family Tree DNA test kit consists of two cheek scrapers and two collection tubes---designed for a single persons use. Each tube contains a fluid designed to arrest bacteria growth, so you can scrape your cheek and return your kit in any type of weather (hot or cold). The freshness of your sample will remain intact for months."
It adds that: "The sensation of using our scraper is like brushing your inside cheek with your toothbrush. Remember, a good scrape produces lots of DNA, which makes the extraction process easier and decreases the chance that one or more of your markers will fail to be readable on the first test of your sample."
Paper records, memory, DNA
"Ninety per cent of people are interested in genealogy," said Bennett Greenspan, the president and chief executive of FamilyTreeDNA, adding that the company estimates that 40% of people are interested in DNA testing and there is no longer any 'stigma' attached to it, as there was only a few years ago.
MyHeritage's founder and chief executive, Gilad Japhet, told The Guardian: "We can build on… paper records and on people's memories – but now we can also use real biology to complete those family trees. You can find relatives from centuries ago, but also use the site to keep in touch with your family today." Japhet added.