Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Mitochondrial Inheritance

Children (both males and females) inherit mtDNA from their mothers only; the father’s mtDNA was located in the sperm mid-piece (the mitochondrial sheath) which was lost at fertilization. Current evidence suggests that ubiquitin molecules tag the foreign male mtDNA for degradation. All children in a sibship are hemizygous for mtDNA and thus identical to each other and to their mother; cytoplasmic mtDNA does not undergo meiosis, hence there is no opportunity for introgression of the father’s mtDNA since there is no recombination. Aka maternal inheritance.

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