P.S. I know not that much, just some basics, but this question really interested me :)

  • 5
    $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome at Biology SE! Can you edit your question and define 'same'? It is important to clarify what do you mean by this term. Since every cell in your body can acquire mutations independently and this is also true for cell organelles like mitochondria, in the strict sense of same = identical, then the answer is no. Based on the above logic even two mitochondria can have different DNA due to individual unique mutations. $\endgroup$ Jun 10, 2020 at 12:20

2 Answers 2


The mitochondrial genome has a nonzero mutation rate, though estimates differ according to method. Estimates are approximately $10^{-8}$ per bp per year on average, and the mt genome is $\approx20,000$ bp. So we can do some math and expect that many (or most) people experience heteroplasmy, which is to say that they carry various different mitochondria (in the same person).

Note also that you inherit multiple mitochondria from your mother, not just one.

So- no, not everyone has exactly the same mitochondria, even if we can trace them all back to a single hypothetical human.


The M.DNA mutates about 1% in a million years, and because our Mt-Eve is 150,000 years old, our mitochondria are 0.15% different, or 99.85% the same globally, and 99.95% the same in Eurasia.

The variation of mitochondrial DNA between different people can be used to estimate the time back to a common ancestor, because mitochondrial DNA accumulates mutations at the rate of approximately one every 3,500 years per nucleotide. They can measure the differences in a tree:

enter image description here

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Good answer, but I think it would be improved with some reference for those figures and a link for the tree. $\endgroup$
    – user438383
    Nov 2, 2020 at 15:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .