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Mitochondrial DNA

Cells that make up a human being contain two forms of DNA.Mitochondrial DNA

1. Nuclear DNA.
2. Mitochondrial DNA.

Nuclear DNA is found in the nucleus and contains all the genes that make up who we are. Nuclear DNA is the type of DNA that police use to profile a person, and what DNA labs use to perform a paternity test.

Mitochondrial DNA is a tiny circle of DNA that is found inside small cell packets called Mitochondria. Mitochondria known as the "power house of the cell" are used to create energy for the cells.

Sperm cells have mitochondria in the tail of the sperm, and not in the head of the sperm. When the sperm fertilizes a egg only the sperm head enters the egg, and the tail is dropped off. Thus, children will only recieve mitochondrial DNA from their mother. Testing the sequence of mitochondrial DNA in siblings will show if they are biologically related via the maternal line.

Mitochondrial Inheritance

imageSince in a fertilised egg only the mother's mitochondrial DNA is present we can find the exact same mitochondrial DNA in all children to the same mother.

Daughters will continue to pass the same mitochondrial DNA down to their children, while men will never pass on their mitochondrial DNA.

Thus mitochondrial DNA testing is a very powerful and accurate way to test for biological siblings. Mitochondrial testing is currently used by military DNA laboratories to identify skeletons discovered in old war zones, by tracing the mitochondrial DNA back to living relatives.

The US military is still using mitochondria DNA testing to identify bone fragments from world war II, Vietnam and Korean wars, and many other conflicts.