Each of us inherits genetic characteristics from our parents that determine our hair colour, predisposition to disease and a myriad of other things about us.
The so called "mitochondrial" DNA is passed only through the egg, that is, you inherit it from your mother and she from her mother. DNA is replicated flawlessly as cells divide but on occasion, a mistake can be made, a mutation. Although these mutations can cause inherited diseases, many do not.
The mitochondrial DNA and its very slow but predictable mutations (once every 20,000 years) allows genetic scientists to analyse and group people into a series of "clans". Since the DNA is only inherited through the female line, it has been possible to identify seven women from whom most Europeans can trace their ancestry.
The seven daughters of Eve have been given names:
Ursula, Xenia, Tara, Helena, Katrine, Velda and Jasmine
Oxford Ancestors supply a swab which you scrape on the insides of your cheeks. After returning the swab in a sealed packet and a cheque for GBP 150, your sample is extracted, 'amplified' and then analysed.
Your sample is compared against reference patterns and you are placed within one of the seven clans with a gold star.
A certificate (above) describes the seven clans and the groupings within them. I am a member of the largest and most widespread grouping in Europe, "Helena". My specific location is at the three o'clock position on the "Helena" cloud.
The relevant DNA sequence comprising the bases adenine (A), thymine (T), guanine (G), and cytosine (C) are printed under the diagram. Where your sequence differs from a reference pattern, the letters are printed in red.