What is mtDNA and Its Impact On Genetic Research?

Eager to learn more about your family after seeing relatives this holiday season? DNA testing can help. Let’s explore mtDNA and how it can be used to further your genetic research.

mtDNA Testing & Its Uses in Genetic Research

What is mtDNA?

Most of the genetic information we inherit from our parents is contained in the 46 chromosomes occupying the nuclei of nearly all cells in our bodies.

Outside of the nucleus, there’s another part of the cell that has a wealth of genetics: the mitochondria. These tiny structures produce cellular energy. Each cell has around 1,700 mitochondria, and each mitochondrion contains identical DNA loops that are 16,000 base pairs long with 37 genes. This is called mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA for short.

While boys inherit Y-DNA from their fathers, mtDNA is inherited along the maternal line when the egg is fertilized. The sperm cell’s mtDNA remains outside of the egg cell at fertilization, which means that while the egg has a combination of both paternal and maternal nuclear DNA, it only has an exact replica of the mother’s mtDNA and absolutely no mtDNA from the father.

mtDNA Testing

Although all of humanity’s mtDNA comes from one very distant female ancestor, also known as Eve, random mutations have changed the genetic information over the past millennia. With mtDNA testing, we can find and trace these mutations then compare the differences and similarities in mtDNA to determine where mutations happened and when family trees branched off. This process can help us learn more about where our ancestors were once settled, how families have expanded, and more.

Lee’s Summit DNA Testing

Test Smartly Labs can help you dig more deeply into your ancestry research. Use our quick, painless DNA testing to learn more about your family history.

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Test Smartly Labs provides accurate, confidential DNA tests. To learn more about our DNA Testing Services, contact Test Smartly Labs today at (816) 800-9699. We have five lab locations in the greater Kansas City area!

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