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Who and why

We are a team of professional historians, researchers and scientists with a passion for genealogy, using DNA to grow family trees even further.

Launched in July 2018, we are the first company in the world to offer commercially-available testing of envelopes, postcards with stamp/s, aerogrammes and other artefacts from deceased relatives for genealogical purposes. We are based in Brisbane, Australia, and have clients from all over the world.

Our current focus is to generate an autosomal DNA (atDNA) text file compatible for use with GEDmatch Genesis, a free genealogy database where people who have tested across any of the commercial DNA genealogy providers upload their DNA file. If we are able to obtain sufficient quality DNA from our client’s sample, they are then able to use DNA from a deceased ancestor to understand more about their genealogy and family tree. 

We are now offering Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) which is a proven method to deal with older, degraded DNA samples - typical of our sample types. While we have successfully genotyped atDNA files for a number of our clients on Illumina’s Global Screening Array (GSA), it has been challenging to deliver consistently good results with this approach.

Moving forward, we do not believe the GSA will be a viable option for the majority of our samples. We have now clearly established what degree of DNA quantity and quality can be tolerated by the GSA. This allows us to advise our customers after extraction whether GSA or WGS is viable moving forward. The customer can then decide what they wish to do with the extracted DNA.

If DNA is found in the customer’s sample, we offer three options:

  1. Pay for extraction and store the customer’s DNA sample until they are ready (or can afford) to progress to GSA or WGS ($341AUD / approx $235USD for envelopes, stamps and aerogrammes / price on application for other artefacts)

  2. Pay for extraction and offer to progress the customer’s sample to the GSA if the sample is suitable ($831AUD / approx $575USD including the already paid extraction cost - pricing is for all artefact types)

  3. Pay for extraction and progress the customer’s sample to WGS if GSA is not suitable or the customer prefers the WGS option ($3460AUD / approx $2385USD which includes the already paid extraction cost - pricing is for all artefact types)*

*Customers who placed orders before 20 January 2019 are offered Option 3 for $2766AUD / approx $1909USD.

WGS is clearly more expensive than the GSA. The advantage to WGS is that it will provide both chromosomal (including Y-DNA in the case of males) and mitochondrial DNA data. We do anticipate that the price of WGS will reduce over time and therefore a customer may prefer for totheletter DNA to hold the DNA on their behalf until the price has reduced.

The reason why some vendors are able to provide WGS at a much reduced cost to our pricing is that due to the DNA we find invariably being degraded and low yield, a different approach is required to the standard “saliva in a tube” approach. We also perform bioinformatics analysis on the output from WGS in order to create an atDNA file. These factors contribute to the higher cost for WGS for artefacts.

We advise our customers that there is always a possibility that DNA will not be found in the sample, or that the DNA will be degraded to the degree that it cannot be progressed. There is also the possibility that the DNA will not belong to the person the customer anticipates. As we extract DNA from under the flap or stamp, and take extensive precautions to remove any external DNA from a sample, as well as undertake extractions using forensic procedures in world-class accredited laboratories, we do our best to remove the possibility of contamination. Customers accept these risks when placing an order.

Our progress and new product offerings can be followed on our FaceBook page totheletter DNA, or the Results page of this site.

We are committed to providing our services at a fair and reasonable price. Pricing in Australian Dollars (with an estimate in US Dollars) are advertised at "Find DNA" on our buy page. You can pay in any currency which will be automatically converted to Australian Dollars. Any changes to pricing will be published here and on our FaceBook page. We anticipate that WGS will reduce in price and will ensure our customers benefit from any reductions in our costs.

We are also able to advise and assist law enforcement agencies with the use of genetic genealogy to assist in the identification of alleged offenders or unidentified human remains. Please visit our Genetic Genealogy page and email info@totheletterDNA.com for further information on this service.

Our business is conducted in accordance with the ethics prescribed in the Genetic Genealogy Standards 2015. To read these, click here.

We are an Australian-registered company ACN 626 042 028 / ABN 97 625 793 808 and operate in accordance with Australian laws and legislation.

*Please email us for specific pricing on other artefacts including hair brushes, shavers, spectacles, teeth and other items.