Mitochondria DNA Analysis

The mitochondria DNA refers to the DNA material situated in the mitochondria; a cellular organelle found in the eukaryotic cells responsible for converting chemical energy from food components to a form of energy that could be efficiently utilized by the cells. It converts chemical energy to adenosine triphosphate that is used by the cells. The mitochondria DNA forms only a small portion of the DNA in the eukaryotic cells, with most of them located in the cell nucleus in plants and algae. It is also found in plastids, including chloroplasts. The mitochondrial DNA was the first significant part of the human genome to be sequenced. The mitochondria DNA sequencing suggests that the mitochondria DNA includes 16569 base pairs and encodes 13 proteins.

The mitochondrial DNA traces the matrilineal using the DNA in their mitochondria. The mitochondrial DNA is passed down from the mother to the off springs, both males and females, without being altered (Lledo et al. 2018). The mitochondria DNA test can consequently be performed on both males and females. It results in the generation of ancestry by determining a match to the mitochondrial DNA of another individual. It mainly focuses on the determination of ancestry through the determination of matrilineage.

Advantages of mitochondrial DNA analysis

The mitochondrial DNA presents an essential element in the determination of the evolutionary relationship within a species. It offers significant benefits compared to nuclear DNA in the process of ascertaining phylogenetic pathways, including maternal inheritance. Essentially, the mitochondrial DNA is only inherited from the mother, consequently leading to the determination of a more direct genetic lineage (Lledo et al. 2018). As the mitochondrial DNA is only passed from the mother, it ensures that no combination occurs, consequently maintaining sequence fidelity.  It is also essential to follow the fact that it has a higher mutation rate.  The mitochondria produce reactive oxygen species, which results in a higher mutation rate of the sequences. Following the fact that each cell has a mitochondrion, the mitochondria DNA has a high copy number, resulting in the possibility of gathering high amounts of mitochondrial DNA for sequencing.

Disadvantages of mitochondrial DNA analysis

Other than the advantages of the mitochondrial DNA, there are also disadvantages associated with the mitochondrial DNA. Although the Mitochondrial DNA could explore far deep into the ancestry of an individual and consequently provide the necessary information being sought, it presents the disadvantage that it only has the potential of determining the maternal linage. The mitochondrial DNA, in this sense, could not be traced back to a single maternal linage. The mitochondrial DNA does not consider the maternal side of the family as an individual does not have the mitochondrial DNA of the father. Even as the mitochondrial DNA is based on the mitochondrial DNA of the mother, it also ignores the paternal side of the mother as it only moves through the female parents. It ignores everyone in the family lineage, which is not of the direct maternal lineage.

Could a police officer take a DNA sample from a suspect arrested for a serious crime?

The police cannot use the mitochondrial DNA in the prosecution and conviction of a suspect arrested for a serious crime. Compared to the nuclear DNA, the mitochondrial DNA is only specific and passed down through the direct maternal lineage. It overlooks a significant number of individuals in family organizations. Following how the mitochondrial DNA functions, it could result in the overlooking of a high number of pieces of evidence that could be necessary for the course of a criminal conviction and prosecution.


Lledo, B., Ortiz, J. A., Morales, R., García-Hernández, E., Ten, J., Bernabeu, A., … & Bernabeu, R. (2018). Comprehensive mitochondrial DNA analysis and IVF outcome. Human reproduction open2018(4), hoy023.

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