News of the WeekHuman Genetics

mtDNA Shows Signs of Paternal Influence

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Science  24 Dec 1999:
Vol. 286, Issue 5449, pp. 2436
DOI: 10.1126/science.286.5449.2436a

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Biologists have long thought that the DNA of the cellular organelles called mitochondria passes intact from mother to child with no paternal influence. On page 2524, however, researchers find signs of mixing between maternal and paternal mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) in humans and chimpanzees. Because biologists have used mtDNA as a tool to trace human ancestry and relationships, the finding has implications for everything from the identification of bodies to the existence of a "mitochondrial Eve" 200,000 years ago.