Support/Connecting and Sharing/DNA Relatives Basics

Maternal and Paternal labels in DNA Relatives

posted this on August 15, 2012 11:59 AM

If you have one or both of your biological parents genotyped with 23andMe, DNA Relatives can determine whether a match shares DNA in common with both you and one of your parents, and therefore is likely to be on either your mother’s side or your father’s side. This can help narrow your search if you’re looking for a common ancestor with one of your matches, and using Map View, you can look for differences in where in the world matches on the two sides come from.

How it works

This feature labels relatives that share DNA in common with both you and your parent. If your relative also shares DNA with your mother, he or she is most likely on your mother’s side of the family. Conversely, if a relative shares DNA with your father, he or she is probably on your dad’s side. This is the case for both male and female relatives, since DNA Relatives is based on your autosomal DNA.

When you include one or both of your parents in Family Tree, DNA Relatives checks each of your matches to see which parent they match. You’ll see this indicated next to each match in your DNA Relatives list. You can filter your matches by which side of the family they’re on:


M labeled relatives match both you and the mother you have linked in Family Tree


P labeled relatives match both you and the father you have linked in Family Tree


Full siblings show DNA shared with both parents


Some more distant matches may not receive labels

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Confirming your parental relationship

Once you have a parent genotyped, you can confirm your relationship via the following steps:

  1. Invite your parent to share genomes. They must accept the invitation for you to proceed. If you share an account with your parent(s) with multiple profiles, this step is not necessary.

  2. Go to your Family Tree and add your parent to the tree by clicking either the "add father" or "add mother" nodes: 


    You can also use the "Add Relative" button in your profile's bio box: 


  3. Use the "Connection" tab in the Family Tree to connect your parent’s 23andMe profile. Your owned profiles and shares will appear in the "select a profile" drop-down list: Screen_shot_2012-08-31_at_11.45.38_AM.png

  4. Once a profile is successfully connected, chromosomes will appear on its node in the Family Tree.

You can also link to a parent from DNA Relatives by clicking on the predicted relationship and setting a confirmed relationship. Be sure to select "Connect this family member to my Family Tree" if you want to take advantage of this feature.


If you only have one parent in the system, you’ll be able to use the filters to show only people who match that parent, or only people who do not match that parent. In many cases, a relative who doesn’t match your father matches your mother, so you can find relatives from both sides even if only one parent has been genotyped.

Undetermined matches
Occasionally, you’ll find relatives that match both your mother and your father. For instance, a sibling should be related to both your parents. This can also happen if the same person happens to be distantly related to both of your parents.

You may also find relatives that don't match either of your parents. Since all the DNA you have comes from either your mother or father, it is biologically impossible for one of your relatives to not share DNA with one of your parents. In these cases, the amount of DNA shared likely falls just short of the DNA Relatives detection threshold. 

Linking other relatives

If you do not have a genotyped parent available, you can use this feature to locate matches in common with other relatives by temporarily linking those relatives as either your mother or father in the Family Tree. The label descriptions of "mother's side" and "father's side" will not be accurate in the event that you link other relatives as biological parents.

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