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Are we closer genetically to our parents or our siblings? © Getty Images

Are we closer genetically to our parents or our siblings?

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You're equally related to your parents and siblings - but only on average.

Asked by: Donna Broster, USA


It’s often said you’re equally genetically related to parents as (full) siblings: your ‘relatedness’ is a half. That means the chance that a bit of your own DNA is shared with your mother (by inheriting it from her) is 1/2. Similarly, the chance of sharing it with your sister (because you both inherited it) is also 1/2.

However, unlike for parents, the amount of shared inherited DNA between siblings varies, and it’s only 1/2 on average. In fact, sex chromosomes and mitochondrial DNA complicate the issue.

For example, considering only the X chromosome, the relatedness of a female to her parents stays unchanged, but to her sisters it’s 0.75 (because they both inherit an identical X chromosome from their father), and to her brothers it’s 0.25.

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