Getting to know "Mitochondrial Eve"


14 Responses to “Getting to know "Mitochondrial Eve"”

  1. Paul Downs says:

    *cough*Parasite Eve*cough*. I can’t help but think of that when someone mentions mitochondrial eve. Damn that book, though it did lead to me reading a lot of proper biological literature about mitochondria and their DNA.

    Never thought that it would be used as a crutch for creationism. That’s kinda hilarious and sad.

  2. It’s passed from mother to child (any gender).

    • ptrourke says:

      Yes, but because it is never passed from father to child [*], it is important for people who don’t understand mitochondrial DNA to realize that it represents only the line F > F > F > F > F > M|F !, where the exclamation point indicates the person tested. That’s why the text says “from mother to daughter.”

      [*]My understanding is that there is at least one case of finding M > M! mitochondrial transmission, NEJM 347, but that is consider a freak case for now.

  3. Also one of the major BSG flaws!

  4. Joe Buck says:

    Here’s another way to visualize how this works.

    Imagine a population with equal numbers of males and females.  They all pair off and have exactly two children who survive to adulthood, either two boys, two girls, or a boy and a girl, and they all have children at the same age (twins, to make it simple, on their 30th birthday).  That way, each generation is the same size as the last, and every member of the original generation has descendants in every subsequent generation.  BUT: in the very first generation, 1/4 of the couples have only boys, 1/4 have only girls, and half have one of each.  The men lucky enough to have two boys, and the women lucky enough to have two girls, double the concentration of their sex-linked DNA in the next generation, and also double their chances of propagating it in every generation thereafter. The result is that before too long, you’ll have a mitochondrial Eve and a Y-Adam, even though all members of the founding generation have descendants in every generation after that.

  5. Sam Buchanan says:

    I thought I remembered the whole mitochondrial eve thing being bullshit.

    If you haven’t got the time, the article basically says that mitochondrions are not 100% of the time passed strictly from mother to offspring.  As with most things in biology, there are no hard and fast rules.  Do a bit more reading, you out there.

    • wysinwyg says:

      Bear in mind that just because there is a study that says something does not mean that that thing is true or even a consensus view in a field.  It would be interesting to see how widely cited this paper is.

      Besides that, it doesn’t seem as though the mother to offspring thing has to be 100% to justify a conclusion that there was probably a mitochondrial Eve.  It seems to me a more relevant question is whether all mitochondria that have had their genes analyzed are descended from a relatively recent common ancestor.  If we keep looking at mitochondria and keep finding that they’re related with a common ancestor 200,000 years ago the idea of a mitochondrial Eve starts seeming pretty plausible, no?

  6. bluethunb says:

    Interesting. Its been many years since I had any updates on the subject. Thanks

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