This new study seem to have pretty much proven that mtDNA is inherited from both parents. I assume that this would lead to most age estimates of ancient human populations that heavily depending on mtDNA, being discarded. Is this right?

What other things would be affected by this discovery?

  • 4
    $\begingroup$ What you refer to is just a (non-peer reviewed) vulgarization of an original (peer-reviewed) article. This original article is Luo et al. (2018). I only read their abstract and wants to highlight this sentence: [..] there are some exceptional cases where paternal mtDNA could be passed to the offspring. I will need to read more (I currently don't have access to it due to a paywall) to have an opinion as to whether that might affect our molecular clock estimates. $\endgroup$
    – Remi.b
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 6:09
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The authors also write the following: Clearly, these results will need to be brought in agreement with the fact that maternal inheritance remains absolutely dominant on an evolutionary timescale and that occasional paternal transmission events seem to have left no detectable mark on the human genetic record, indicating the opposite of your assumption. $\endgroup$
    – Astrolamb
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 12:26
  • $\begingroup$ @Astrolamb Exactly. It has been known at least from some years, that paternal inheritance of mtDNA can occur (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paternal_mtDNA_transmission). However, this is not without consequences, as there was a case of a patient whose mtDNA was 90% paternal and suffered a debilitating intolerance to exercise (nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMoa020350). $\endgroup$
    – user38945
    Commented Dec 3, 2018 at 15:44
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Daud I don't have access to the entire article, so I don't know the author's reasoning. However, considering that so far only 17 individuals in 3 families have been identified who have paternal mtDNA, statistically speaking the impact of a very few compared with the billions on the planet is insignificant. $\endgroup$
    – Astrolamb
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 12:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I should also add that due to decades of study on mtDNA, the vast majority of which followed expected maternal inheritance, we have a pretty decent understanding of what is expected with maternal inheritance, and almost all cases follow those predictions, so unless it were more widespread, paternal inheritance hasn't had a big enough impact to be noticeable. $\endgroup$
    – Astrolamb
    Commented Dec 4, 2018 at 12:27


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .