Mitochondrial DNA and female lineages, Douglas Wallace
Intervewee: Douglas Wallace
Mitochondrial DNA and female lineages
The only way that the mitochondrial DNA can change is by sequential mutations along female lines. And so as mutations accumulate in different female lineages then they become progressively more and more different. And as those women migrated 200,000 years ago to about 40,000 years ago and to different parts of the world, they carried along their distinctive mitochondrial DNAs. So now we can reconstruct through the mitochondrial DNA lines, the entire history of women for our species all the way back to what is now known as the Mitochondrial Eve, about 200,000 years ago.
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DNA found in the mitochondrion of a cell differs in structure and is separate from the DNA found in the cell nucleus. Mitochondrial DNA, or mtDNA, exists as a circular loop of double-stranded DNA rather than the linear form found in nuclear DNA. However,