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mtDNA Matches Introduction

Your mtDNA Matches page lists your mtDNA relatives, who are in our expansive mtDNA database, at each mtDNA level you have been tested. However, matches who have not signed a release form or have opted out of database matching are not shown.

Both men and women have mitochondrial DNA, but it is only inherited from mothers. This means it can help you trace your direct maternal line. Your mtDNA matches are people whose direct maternal line intersected with your own at some point in the past.

There are currently two sets of rules for mtDNA matching.

  • For those who have tested HVR1 (mtDNA) or HVR1 and HVR2 (mtDNAPlus), only exact matches are shown. SmartMatching is also used to prevent a match between different haplogroups.
  • For those who have tested the mtDNA Full Sequence (mtFullSequence), three differences are allowed. These differences include cases of heteroplasmy. Two high-frequency insertion/deletion locations are completely excluded from difference counts. These are mutations at positions 309 and 315.

Genetic Distance

All men and women can trace their direct maternal line to “mitochondrial Eve,” a woman who lived hundreds of thousands of years ago. Over time, her descendants developed small copy errors in their DNA that we call mutations. As different groups drifted apart, the different lineages developed their own unique sets of mutations. The more mutations that two individuals share, the more recently their lines branched apart on the maternal tree of humanity. In other words, the more closely related they are through their direct maternal lines.

We can compare two individuals to see which mutations they share in common. When one person has a mutation the other does not, we count this as Genetic Distance or GD. The greater the GD, the more distantly related the two people are. 

mtDNA Coding Region 

The Coding Region is the part of your mtDNA genome that contains genes. Because it does contain some genes, the Coding Region is believed to be slower mutating than the Control Region. Often, the mutations that are found in the Coding Region are used to define haplogroups.

Matching levels

The mtFull Sequence test offered by FamilyTreeDNA examines the HVR1, HVR2, and Coding Region of mitochondria and is the highest resolution test available to genealogists. The closeness of a mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) match depends on the matching level. Matches at higher levels are more likely to be recent. 

At the top of your match list, you can filter matches by the sections of mtDNA you match. There are three sections of mtDNA used for matching: HVR1, HVR2, and the Coding Region.

  • HVR1 - The HVR1 region of mtDNA is small, and as such, only matches who share your own exact set of mutations are shown. This is to exclude those individuals who are on distant maternal matches. Because this is such a small snapshot of mtDNA, even this exclusion means that matching on HVR1 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 52 generations (or about 1,300 years).*

    *FamilyTreeDNA's discontinued mtDNA test examined only the HVR1 level.

  • HVR2 - The HVR2 region is one of the two mtDNA hypervariable regions used in genealogical DNA testing. Matching on both HVR1 and HVR2 means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 28 generations (or about 700 years). Even so, only exact matches are shown.*

    *FamilyTreeDNA's discontinued mtDNAPlus test examined the HVR1 and HVR2 levels. 

  • HVR1, HVR2, & Coding Region (mtFull Sequence Test) - Matching at HVR1, HVR2, and the coding region brings your matches into more recent times. It means that you have a 50% chance of sharing a common maternal ancestor within the last 5-16 generations (or about 125-400 years). Because this level looks at the entire mitochondrial sequence, our matching program allows a Genetic Distance of up to 3.
Short Hand Testing Level Matching Level
HVR2 mtDNAPlus HVR1 & HVR2
FMS mtFull Sequence HVR1, HVR2, & Coding Region


SmartMatching is a tool that is used to limit your mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) matches and the information about your matches' historic and anthropological migrations to those that are relevant.

Some mtDNA sequences may look the same in the HVR1 and HVR2 regions yet belong to different haplogroups. These sequences are unrelated in recent or even more distant times. Therefore, we do not show them on your mtDNA - Matches, mtDNA - Ancestral Origins, and mtDNA - Haplogroup Origins pages.

Note: Some individuals have taken more extensive haplogroup tests or have tested their mtDNA full genomic sequences to provide them with a more specific haplogroup. In these cases, we still display the name, email, and origin information for those with haplogroup assignments that may be related.

Accessing mtDNA Matches 

You can access your mtDNA Matches from your dashboard or from your navigation bar.

To access from your dashboard:

  1. Sign in to your kit.
  2. On your dashboard, locate the mtDNA Results & Tools widget.
  3. On the mtDNA Results & Tools widget, click the mtDNA Matches button.

To access from your navigation bar:

  1. Sign in to your kit.
  2. On the navigation bar at the top of the page, go to Results & Tools > mtDNA > Matches.






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