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My mtDNA (Mitochondrial DNA)

Updated: Jan 23, 2022

DNA is a very complex subject, admittedly too complex for my full comprehension, but one thing that is fairly easy to understand is Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA, for short. Mitochondrial DNA is DNA located in mitochondria, which is inherited from the mother, generation after generation.

Most DNA resides in the chromosomes inside the cell nucleus, but mtDNA is separate and has very important functions. Essentially, mitochondria is the powerhouse of DNA. "In addition to supplying cellular energy, mitochondria are involved in other tasks, such as signaling, cellular differentiation, and cell death, as well as maintaining control of the cell cycle and cell growth." [1]

Mitochondrial DNA has traditionally been believed to have been passed down from mother to daughter in successive generations, but in a study published in 2018, it was found that human babies were reported to inherit mtDNA from both their fathers and their mothers "resulting in mtDNA heteroplasmy". [2]

At any rate, it amazes me to think that I hold a near exact copy of my mother's mtDNA, who got hers from her mother, who got hers from her mother, all the way back to "Mitochondrial Eve" as she is called. Here in this photo set we see the carriers of my mtDNA, passed down for five consecutive generations. From my third great-grandmother to my mother (left to right), these are my direct maternal ancestors - the holders of my mtDNA:

Five Generations of Mitochondrial DNA

For more on this branch of my family, see the Dickinson page.

Unfortunately, because I am female, I didn't inherit my father's Y-DNA, which was passed down from father to son generation after generation since "Chromosomal Adam". In my next post, I'll share what I've learned from my father's DNA. Stay tuned!


  1. McBride HM, Neuspiel M, Wasiak S (July 2006). "Mitochondria: more than just a powerhouse". Current Biology.

  2. Luo S, Valencia CA, Zhang J, Lee NC, Slone J, Gui B, Wang X, Li Z, Dell S, Brown J, Chen SM, Chien YH, Hwu WL, Fan PC, Wong LJ, Atwal PS, Huang T (December 2018). "Biparental Inheritance of Mitochondrial DNA in Humans". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.

  3. WikiTree DNA Help



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