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Glossary for DNA Test

In our glossary you will find explanations of the various terms used in DNA testing practices. Please read through it and obtain definitions of the key terms used in DNA testing and paternity testing services. If you miss something, please contact us. We are happy to explain all terms and procedures so that you feel comfortable with your choice of DNA lab:


The accreditation is an objective measure of quality for a service monitored by a third independent party (e.g. the DAkkS (Deutsche Akkreditierungsstelle – German Accreditation Board).

Acknowledgement of Paternity

If a child is not borne within a marriage, the possible father can acknowledge paternity voluntarily. This is usually done at a Youth Welfare Office, but may in some cases be decided in court. Paternity is then legally acknowledged even, if the man is not the biological father.


Alleles are different variants of a piece of DNA (locus) on a chromosome. In humans all chromosomes are in pairs. Therefore all humans have two alleles (which may differ or be the same) at each locus. Thus one can have different eye colours. The alleles analysed in a parentage test are usually variable in length.

Alleged Father

The alleged father is the man taking part in the test and who is named as the possible father of the child.
„Ausländerbehörde“ (Home Office/ Immigration Office)
In Germany each administration district or city has a “Ausländerbehörde”. The office is responsible for the execution of the „Ausländerrecht“ (immigration law). It checks Visa applications and issue temporary passport documents. Additionally the authority decides if the pre-requisites for a family reunification is given.

Biological Father

Paternity can be divided in three different areas: biological, social and/or juridicial. All three roles can be (and usually are) united in one person. The biological father is the man who sired the child. He does not necessarily have any other affiliations to the child.

Blood, EDTA

Instead of using swabs samples for a DNA test, also so-called EDTA blood can be used. EDTA is an anti-coagulation agent. It is usually already contained in the blood vials and prevents the blood clotting. To extract DNA from clotted blood is difficult.

Buccal Swab

A buccal swab – commonly called saliva sample- is in fact gained by rubbing the inner side of the cheek with e.g. a cotton swab. Thus gaining cell material from the buccal mucosa. The method of sampling is painless and non-invasive and yields sufficient material for a DNA test


On the chromosomes all genetic information is contained. They are present in the cell nucleus. All humans have 46 chromosomes, 23 from the mother and 23 from the father.

Deficiency case

A deficiency case is a test with only one parent and child. (see also trio case)

Determination of Paternity

Paternity determination by DNA testing is based on the number of matches between the different genetic characteristics looked at and their frequency in the population. From the data a paternity probability is calculated. The DNA test for determination of paternity can be done on a voluntarily basis or it is ordered by court. Court-ordered testing has different procedures and it is mandatory to attend the sampling. If one fails to keep the appointment without good reason this may result in legal consequences. It is either the child, the Youth Welfare Office on behalf of the child or one of the parents that can file a law suit.


DNA is the complete genetic information which is located in the cell nucleus and packed into chromosomes. The whole information is determined by only four chemical different parts called “base”. The sequence of the four bases contains all the information necessary to determine all of our features such as eye colour, height, sex etc. DNA is the blueprint of all our features and characteristics. For a DNA test particular parts of the DNA are used. Each human receives half of his genetic information from his mother and the other half from his father. The DNA sections are analysed for matches between child and parent or relation.

DNA Profile

A DNA profile is also called “genetic fingerprint”. Like a normal fingerprint it is unique for each individual. The sections of DNA looked at for generating a profile are usually variants in length and each individual carries its special unique combination of these alleles (see above).

Family Reunion

Familiy Reunification is regulated by the „Aufenthaltsgesetz“ (the law for right of residence). The law defines the rules for relatives of permanent residents as well as residents with a temporary permit moving to the country. Aim of the reunification is to restore/ keep the family as a unit.


A gene as a region of the DNA which carries information for a certain hereditary charactersistic. The region where the gene is located is called a DNA or genetic locus (see below).

Gene Locus

A gene locus is simply the position of gene on the DNA. The different variants of a gene are called alleles (see above). The alleles are on the same locus.

Legal Father/ Legal Paternity

The man being acknowledged by law is the legal father. From this the following legal consequences derive: he has parental care/ custody for the child, he has maintenance obligations and is responsible for the child’s education. Legal paternity is automatically given to the husband of the mother, if the child is borne within a marriage. Yet, he does not have to be the biological father and he does not necessarily take over social paternity.


A DNA marker is a short DNA region used for genotyping a person. A marker can have many different alleles.

Objection to Paternity

Once paternity has been acknowledged (see above), objection to paternity is only possible by filing a legal complaint at the family court. The complainant files the law suit under the assumption, that he is not the biological father of the child.

Parentage analysis

In a parentage analysis the relationship of at least two persons are determined using a DNA test.

Parental care/ Custody

By German law for a child born within a marriage both partners will have shared parental care/ custody over the child. If the parents are not married, they can give a formal letter of intent that they have shared parental care. The mother can only share parental custody with the biological father, if she is not married with someone else.

Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)

This reaction is used to amplify the DNA regions need for generating a DNA profile. The DNA has two strands which are melted and with the help of starter molecules certain regions on each strand are copied. Thus the information is duplicated. in the next round of amplification these copies will again be copied and so on. Therefor only small amounts of DNA are needed as starting material for a DNA test.

Proof of Identity

For a DNA test a proof of identity is mandatory. The sampler hast to check the identity of each participant when taking the samples. The sampler (a GP or medical doctor or any other authorized person) will document that the identity of the participants has been confirmed by himself when taking of the sample. The documented taking of the sample is also called witnessed taking of the sample.

Social Father

Social paternity is characterised by the emotional and caring relationship between father and child. The social father does not have to be the man who sired the child. He can be genetically unrelated to the child. Social paternity may be the case when the mother enters a new relationship. The social father has no legal obligations and this kind of paternity needs no acknowledgement by jurisdiction, but it is important for the well-being of the child.

Test kit

Our test kit for your DNA tests is free of charge. It contains all necessary documents, a pre-labelled and pre-paid envelope for sending the samples back to us und the swabs for taking the samples as well as sample envelopes for storage of samples.

Trio Case

If both parents and the child are participating in the test, it is called a trio case. (see also deficiency case)

Zygosity, Twin Zygosity Test

Through a twin zygosity test we can determine if your twins are identical or fraternal twins. The difference of these two types of twins lays in their DNA. Identical, or monozygotic, twins result from a single sperm which then fertilises a single ovum. Dicygotic twins result from two sperm cells which fertilise two egg cells. These  do not possess the same DNA even though they develop as “twins” in the womb. From a biological point of view their DNA can be seen as sibling DNA with no more difference or similarity between them than in any other brother or sister.

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