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Mitochondrial DNA and Mother's Ancestral Line

What is Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA?

Mitochondrial DNA is contained in the mitochondria in all of our cells. The mitochondria are the power houses of the cells providing the energy to drive the chemical reactions in the cell.

How did it originate?

At the dawn of our evolutionary history it is thought that two single celled organisms merged and one of these became the mitochondria with their own packet of DNA.

Why is it important to ancestry?

All the mitochondria inherited by the next generation are from the mother, hence they only contain the mitochondrial DNA from the mother. Consequently a mitochondrial DNA test will help tracing the mother's ancestral line through the grandmother, greatgrandmother etc. Of course this also means that it doesn't have the possibility of confusion which can arise from researching the father's ancestral line using Y-chromosome tests.

Testing for Mitochondrial DNA

As mitochondrial DNA is passed onto sons and daughters both can do a test, whereas y-chromosome tests can only be done by men. The most common form of DNA testing is autosomal testing, which is offered by a number of companies. The company "Family Tree DNA" also offer a mitochondrial DNA test.

DNA And Your Irish Roots

 •  DNA and your Irish Heritage
 •  DNA, Discovery and Functions
 •  Types of DNA tests
 •  DNA testing companies
 •  Y-chromosome and Father's Ancestral Line
 •  Mitochondrial DNA and Mother's Ancestral Line
 •  DNA and Ethnicity