The Testing Process

The Clan Donald DNA Project only analyzes tests of the Y chromosome. We do not use tests such as those from 23andme,, or FamilytreeDNA's Family Finder tests.

At present, you can get a 12, 37, 67, or 111-marker Y-DNA test from Family Tree DNA. We recommend at least the 37-marker test to start. The 111-marker test would be best; however, cost may be a factor, and there is currently little utility in going beyond 67 markers, which is the test we recommend. The 25-marker test would be acceptable, but they seem to have discontinued it. Buying one test plus an upgrade is more expensive than buying all markers at once. There may be times that we will ask for upgrades to 67 or 111 markers to better understand the DNA results. Alhough there is a cheaper 12 marker test, we do not recommend it, as about the only thing it will tell you is whether or not you are (possibly) a descendant of Somerled. Upgrades can easily be done from your personal page at Family Tree DNA and does not require another DNA sample from you – they will use the sample you originally submitted.

Signing up for the testing is simple.

Simply go to the Family Tree DNA website and select a Y Chromosome test, preferably 37 or more markers. Then go to the next page and fill out the form and you will have a kit mailed to you. Collecting the DNA sample is painless – you take a scraping from the inside of your mouth. You send the kit and about six weeks later you will learn the results. Once you establish an account with them you will find a place to join "projects". Join Donald USA (McDonald). You can find this be searching for "McDonald" or "MacDonald". When your results arrive, email your FTDNA kit number to our DNA site webmaster in order to receive the "Clan Donald Code" that identifies you on our web site. New If you are registered on the Clan Donald USA web site, use the search box at the right to find your Clan Donald DNA Code.

We can also accept results from other testing companies. Just email your results to the webmaster.

About the National Geographic's new "Genographic 2 Project" at the company called Helix. Current results from this test include a Y chromosome marker called FGC11898_YP328. If you test "AA" for it you are a descendant of Somerled or one of his close ancestors, perhaps his grandfather. If you test "AA" for the marker CLD33 you are are a descendant of the first Chief of Clanranald. Contact the webmaster for more info.

In addition, various project members have participated in SNP testing to attempt to determine whether there are deep mutations within the large R1b group to establish deep divisions within the data. Once you have tested with FTDNA and find you are R1b or R1a you may contact us to determine which SNP tests would be useful.

Among the purposes of this genetic study was not simply to identify modern cousins but also to learn more about us as a clan. What portion of our ancestry was Viking? What portion of our ancestry was Gael? Was descended from Colla? Was paternally descended from Conn or Neill? Were there answers to the historical questions posed above in the genetic data?

The writing of history involves the use of incomplete scraps of data to tell a coherent story. In that way it is not so different from the interpretation of genealogical information. Indeed, Celtic culture saw no distinction between the two roles. The seanachie was both the keeper of history and the keeper of genealogies. What portion of the stories and available information can be reinterpreted in light of newly available genetic information? In fact we already have an answer to these questions, and it is “quite a lot”.

Contact Information

DNA Project Originator

Mark MacDonald


Webmaster and Data Manager

J. Douglas McDonald


Please put the words "Clan Donald DNA" in the Subject.

U. S. Mail:

J. D. McDonald
1105 Baytowne Dr. #23
Champaign IL 61822