Mitochondrial DNA

Mitochondria are the oxygen-processing factories of eukaryotic cells. [Review: Nature, 2014, 505, 335]

Organism Code Amino Acid (standard)
All nonplant species UGA Tryptophan (stop)
Mollusks AGA Serine (Arginine)
Yeast CUU Threonine (Leucine)

(For those who may be interested, here is the entire sequence of a human mitochondrial DNA.)

Another significant difference in mitochondrial DNA is that it is circular, like the DNA of prokaryotes.

Mitochondrial DNA is inherited ONLY in the maternal line; all of the mitochondrial DNA in any living human came from that individual's mother.

Bryan Sykes, at the Institute of Molecular Medicine in Oxford, has summarized the work of his group and several others:

Sykes gave these women names, and in a book called "Seven Daughters of Eve", explained the methodology and presented imaginary lives for the women.

Notice in the graphic that the lines converge in the upper center. Now apply this logic:

Sykes calls this woman Mitochondrial Eve, and estimates that she lived about 130,000 years ago, in East Africa.

Another interesting case: Otzi, the Tyrolean iceman.

Sykes found an Irish woman, Marie Mosely, living in southern England, whose mitochondrial DNA was exactly the same as Otzi's - a many times great-grandaughter of Otzi's mother.


This page last modified 1:11 PM on Thursday January 8th, 2015.
Webmaster, Department of Chemistry, University of Maine, Orono, ME 04469